Q. I want to get new replacement windows, but the cost is outside my budget. Is it possible to install windows myself and save the labor cost? Do I have to remove all the old trim and framing?
Replacement windows can be very expensive to have installed. You should realize some savings on your utility bills each year to offset the costs, but the savings often are not as large as the contractor states.
Beware of phrases such as “up to” a certain percentage savings. That can mean anything from zero to the maximum. For example, the percentage savings can be very high for a house with many very old, leaky windows located in a very mild climate. Ask to see actual savings results for your area, and try to get a savings guarantee in writing.
A better way to afford the new windows is to install them yourself. This is not a difficult project because the replacement windows are custom-sized to your existing window openings. Once you learn how to do one window, the rest will install in a similar manner. Practice your technique on a small, easy-to-access window.
You have three basic options for replacing windows yourself. If your window frames are in good condition and you like the way they look, install just a sash replacement kit. This is a simple do-it-yourself job. The old leaky window sashes are removed and new high-efficiency tilt-in (for easy cleaning) sashes are installed in their place. These kits cost only slightly less than a complete replacement window.
The next easiest installation is called a pocket window. Again, if your existing window sill, jambs and trim are in good condition, an entire replacement window, including the frame, is installed in the existing frame.
Installing pocket windows has several advantages.
Since the old window frame is not removed, your house will not look much different when the new windows are installed. If your budget allows you to replace only several windows per year, your house will not look half done. The only drawback is the window glass area is smaller because there are two frames, one inside the other.
The third and most common method to install replacement windows is to completely remove the old window and frame so the rough window opening is exposed. This is the most involved installation method, but the best if done correctly. With custom-sized windows, not much shimming and hand fitting is required.
When you have selected the type of window (vinyl, fiberglass, wood) that you want, get specific measuring instructions from the manufacturer. It is much easier to install windows that perfectly fit the wall opening. Most prefer three horizontal and three vertical measurements along with the diagonal distances.
When your windows are delivered to your home, remove one of your old windows. The technique varies depending upon your old window design and style. Always remove the sashes first to minimize the possible of breaking glass and getting cut. Always wear heavy work gloves and long sleeves.
New replacement windows are generally screwed into the window opening lumber framing with long screws. These are hidden when the sashes are installed. Use foam insulation in any large gaps. It expands, so don’t over fill the gaps. Caulk all around the frame.
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