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Installing Replacement Windows

Installing replacement windows correctly can be a really confusing undertaking. This is simply because there are many different ways windows are installed and there are many different types of walls conditions in which they are installed. Regardless of the type of window, the type of wall, or they type of installation, the most important thing is to insure you have someone who is familiar with installing replacement windows.

The Replacement Window Experts know that no two window installations are alike and each installation should be addressed on a case by case basis. When installing replacement windows, there are two basic rules that should be followed no matter what:

Install the replacement window to insure proper function and ease of use

Choose an installation method that will prevent any potential water infiltration around the window.

The installation methods shown below are just a few options for installing replacement windows to insure a high quality installation in your home.

 

Brick installation with flush flange for existing aluminum windows

This method is the preferred method for window installations where there is an aluminum window set inside a brick exterior. This installation method is best because it does not require tearing the old window frame out of the opening. This keeps the existing wall envelope intact and reduces the potential for water infiltration in the future.

The installation starts by removing the operable sash from the old window and removing the upper glass from the window frame. Once the glass is out, the center rail on the frame of the window is removed. What is left is an opening with the old frame still in the wall.

The new windows are measured to fit just inside the old aluminum window frame, and are designed with an outer flange on the window that acts as a piece of trim at the exterior of the window. This flange is cut to fit tight to the brick all the way around the window prior to installation. The less damage you can do to the existing house when installing replacement windows, the better.

Once the flange is sized right, a heavy bead of sealant is applied to the back of the flange and the window is inserted into the opening. The window is set plumb, level, and square to insure proper operation.

The flange on the new window presses against the frame of the old window and creates a seal where the sealant is applied. A second bead of sealant is run all the way around the window where the brick meets the flange in order to create an outer seal and further insure there is no water infiltration.

Low expansion foam is inserted in the small space around the window and the wall and trim is applied to the interior to finish out the inside. While some people may prefer to have their old windows completely torn out prior to installing replacement windows, this method provides better water protection.

 

Full window tear out brick wall with aluminum windows

This method can be done very well or it can be done very poorly. A good installer will take their time both in removing the old windows and sealing the new ones. A poor installer could damage your brick or your interior wall, or fail to properly seal the windows and create potential water leaks.

This method of installing replacement windows starts by removing the operable sash from the old window and removing the upper glass from the window frame. Once the glass is out, the center rail on the frame of the window is removed. What is left is an opening with the old frame still in the wall. The sealant is cut on the interior and the grout is removed around the exterior frame of the window.

The old window frame is then collapsed into the opening and removed completely from the wall. The opening is then prepped using flashing tape on the sill. This method may require cutting back the sheetrock to get the window in place which can be a messy undertaking.

Once the opening is prepped and ready, the window is inserted into the window and set plumb, level, and square to insure proper operation. These windows will be sized close to the brick opening size so they will “fit tight” to the brick.

Once the window is in place, low expansion foam is sprayed into the wall cavity around the frame of the window to insure proper insulation. Most of the time when installing replacement windows, you will have a gap on the interior that needs to be filled. Since you will only have a small space between the wall and the window on the exterior, a bead of sealant is applied all the way around where the window meets the brick on the exterior.

On the interior, the window is trimmed out around the frame to cover any gap between the replacement window and the existing wall. This can be done with a small trim piece that dies into the existing sheetrock, or the window can have jamb extension applied on the interior and trimmed with window trim on the roomside wall. Installing replacement windows with this finish style will have the windows trimmed similar to your existing interior doors.

 

Flushed flange installation with a stucco exterior

This method is the preferred method for installing replacement windows when there is an aluminum window recessed inside a stucco exterior. This installation method is best because it does not require tearing the old window frame out of the opening.

This keeps the existing wall envelope intact and reduces the potential for water infiltration in the future. This installation is not recommended when the window frame sticks out past the stucco finish on the wall.

Installing replacement windows using this method starts by removing the operable sash from the old window and removing the upper glass from the window frame. Once the glass is out, the center rail on the frame of the window is removed. What is left is an opening with the old frame still in the wall.

The new windows are measured to fit just inside the old aluminum window frame, and are designed with an integrated outer flange on the window that acts as a piece of trim at the exterior of the window. This flange is cut to fit tight to the stucco all the way around the window prior to installation.

Once the flange is sized right, a heavy bead of sealant is applied to the back of the flange and the window is inserted into the opening. The window is set plumb, level, and square to insure proper operation.

The flange on the new window presses against the frame of the old window and creates a seal where the sealant is applied. A second bead of sealant is run all the way around the window where the stucco meets the flange in order to create an outer seal and further insure there is no water infiltration.

Low expansion foam is injected into the small space around the window and the wall and trim is applied to the interior to finish the inside. While you may prefer to have their old windows completely torn out prior to installing replacement windows, this method provides better water protection.

Once the new window is installed it will cover all signs of the old window frame and provide you with a better looking, better performing window for your home, and with the added security of a tight building envelope, you can rest easy.

 

Full frame removal for aluminum windows in stucco exterior

If a flange frame window installation is not possible with a stucco exterior, the best way for installing replacement windows in stucco involves a pretty extensive process. Some window installation companies may simply cut the window out of the opening and slide the new window back in. This saves them the trouble of having to patch and paint stucco around the window.

However, this method of installing replacement windows relies on the caulk bead being the only water barrier around the window. If the caulk seal fails, over time, water will infiltrate the wall cavity and could cause major wall damage.

Start by cutting the stucco approximately 3″ away from the side of the window frame. This allows us to remove the window completely from the wall intact. Once the window is removed, we can install the new window using a nailing fin installation on the exterior.

The window is installed plumb, level and square to insure proper operation, can the window is secured to the house with the nailing fin.

After the window is secured, it is properly sealed on the exterior using a high grade butyl backed installation tape. This tape creates a tight seal around the window and insures water will not penetrate the wall opening in the future.

Once the tape is in place, we use an AZEK trim board that is coated with a textured paint finish to trim around the window. AZEK trim is a composite material that is resistant to weather and will not rot. The textured paint simulates the look of stucco. The net result is a stucco band appearance around the new replacement window.

If you don’t like the look of a stucco band, the stucco can be repaired to the edge of the window frame, however, it is often difficult to match existing stucco finishes.

On the interior, the window is trimmed out around the frame to cover any gap between the replacement window and the existing wall. This is done with a small trim piece that dies into the existing sheetrock.

As an option, the window can also have jamb extension applied on the interior and picture framed with trim on the roomside wall. With this finish style, the windows will be trimmed similar to your existing interior doors.

 

Siding Installation for aluminum windows in a siding opening

Installing replacement windows in a siding opening is often the easiest type of installation. However, it still takes time and attention to detail to insure a proper installation.

This installation begins by removing the exterior trim around the existing window. Once the trim is removed, the siding is cut back 3 inches from the window to reveal the old windows nailing fin.

The window is cut loose from any sealant on the exterior and the nailing fin is pried loose from the wall. The window then comes out as one complete unit.

Once the window is removed, install the new window using a nailing fin installation on the exterior. The window is installed plumb, level and square to insure proper operation, and the window is secured to the house with the nailing fin.

After the window is secured, it needs to be properly sealed on the exterior using a high grade butyl backed installation tape. This tape creates a tight seal around the window and insures water will not penetrate the wall opening in the future.

A 3 inch piece of OSB is applied back into the 3 inch gap between the siding and the new window frame. This allows the trim to be applied over the top of the OSB and the siding overlap. An AZEK trim material is used for the exterior trim finish.

On the interior, the window is trimmed out around the frame to cover any gap between the replacement window and the existing wall. This is done with a small trim piece that dies into the existing sheetrock.

As an option, the window can also have jamb extension applied on the interior and picture framed with trim on the room side wall. With this finish style, the windows will be trimmed similar to your existing interior doors.

 

Pocket Replacement for replacing existing wood windows

A pocket replacement installation is possible when we are replacing old wood windows with new replacement windows. Installing replacement windows this way is usually done with the old rope and weight type of double hung wood windows.

On many older wood windows there is usually a very nice interior trim finish around the window. Craftsmen of the past took the time to create a beautiful trim detail around the windows that would be tough to duplicate today.

Custom trim and finish on the interior is available today, however, the costs associated with it would make window replacement a very expensive option. A pocket replacement solves the problem by sizing the window to fit inside the existing window frame, eliminating the need to remove any interior or exterior trim.

To begin the we measure the opening inside the existing window frame and order the windows slightly smaller to fit inside this opening. The sash stops that hold the old sashes in place are removed from the window frame.

Once the sash stops are removed, the old sashes are taken out of the window. To do this, the ropes holding the sashes are cut and the weights fall into the wall.

After the sashes are removed, you now have the rough opening for the new replacement window inside the existing frame of the old window. Depending upon the slope of the old sill, a shim wedge is cut and placed on the sill of the old window. This keeps the new window level in the opening and provides support for it at the bottom.

The new window is then inserted in to the opening and it butts up against the existing trim on the inside of the frame. The window is set in the opening plumb, level and square to insure proper operation.

Once the window is installed, a bead of low expansion foam, or backer rod is inserted in the space between the replacement window and the old window frame. A small trim piece is then applied to cover the gap between the new window and the old frame. A bead of sealant is run between the trim and the window to prevent water infiltration.

Since no interior trim is removed for a pocket installation, no additional trim work is usually required on the interior once the window is in place. An additional strip may be required to cover any gap between the window and the existing trim, but this is usually remedied by a small bead of sealant around the edge of the window.

 

Summary

Installing replacement windows isn’t brain surgery. However, it can be a challenging undertaking if you do not know what you are doing. There are several different wall conditions to consider, various methods of installing replacement windows, and critical factors such as waterproofing to consider when installing replacement windows. Take the time to understand each method for installing replacement windows, and you will surely have a successful window replacement project.

 

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