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What You Need to Know When Replacing a Window in an Existing Wall

What You Need to Know When Replacing a Window in an Existing Wall

When it comes to home repair jobs, few solutions can create a more dramatic change than replacing your home windows. But while many other projects can be taken care of with a little bit of elbow grease and a good blueprint, replacing a home window requires serious work and a good deal of technical knowledge.

Because of that, replacing your windows is no easy feat. You’ll want to understand what type of window you’ll need, the specific tasks required for replacing the window based on the size of the opening, and what materials it will take to make the proper fit for your new window. Here are a few thoughts you may wish to review:

What is Your Frame’s Condition?

The condition, or even presence, of the window frame is the first major factor in matching the right type of window to your replacement plan. If you are building a new window frame, taking out a damaged frame, or otherwise tearing the wall down to the studs, choose new construction windows, also referred to as full frame replacement windows. Pocket replacement windows can be used in projects where the window frame is not being taken out, is in good condition and properly leveled.

The size of your window will also play a factor in which style of window you should install. Replacing a window with one that is an equal size will make a pocket replacement window a better choice. But, upgrading your window to a larger size will mean removing the previous frame and building a new frame to fit your larger window as part of a full frame installation. Thus, a full frame replacement window will be needed for the job.

Removing the Old Frame

Choosing a full frame replacement window, as the name infers, typically requires replacing the pre-existing window frame, sashes and screen. This can usually be accomplished with a utility knife, screwdrivers, pry bar, hammer, putty knife and circular saw, depending on your installed window.

To safeguard your home exterior trim when removing the frame, place a block of wood between the wall material and window, and then use a pry bar to clear away the previous window trim.

Full Frame Window Options

Two window styles can take care of your needs when doing a full frame window installation: Nail fin windows and block frame windows.

Nail fin windows are frequently seen in new construction projects, or any remodel where the walls will be pulled to the frame (studs). These windows feature a thin piece of metal connected to the window itself that follows around the perimeter of the window frame. When affixing the window to a new frame, this nail fin attaches the window directly to the house’s studs and is unseen between the interior and exterior of your home.

Adding a nail fin window can be both hard work and may require the addition of a new window frame or removal of siding so the installer can attach the nail fin to the studs. Nail fin windows are better to install in new construction (for example, when adding a room to your house), as the window is placed before the rest of the wall is built around it. Plus, if you are wishing to place a nail fin window to a present wall in an area of the house where a stone or brick exterior would also have to be damaged, the job might not be worth the expense required.

Block frame windows present a choice for jobs where nail fin windows would be more difficult to add. These windows come without a nail fin and are designed to fit inside existing window flashing (the part of the window that holds material to prevent water from entering into a house’s walls) with minor new construction work. This makes block frame windows a standard replacement for a number of older homes that currently have a window structure constructed or homes with siding or brick exteriors that would otherwise have to be harmed or removed to add a nail fin window.

Using Your Existing Frame

Replacement pocket windows are somewhat different than full frame replacement windows and are created to be added inside an existing window frame. While the existing window sashes and exterior stops of the window should be taken out for the new window to be installed, pocket replacements allow homeowners to maintain the original frame, trim, siding and casing.

Just as with full frame window replacement, the house exterior surrounding the window opening will determine how the pocket replacement process works, but with fewer steps. Unlike full frame replacement window removal, much of the existing sash, hinges and operating hardware will be connected with screws that must be unscrewed before pulling out the head, jamb and sill stops with a pry-bar. Like the full frame replacement window, using a piece of wood to safeguard your wall exterior when removing the old window is a sensible way to help defend against any accidental damage.

After pulling out the existing sashes and inspecting and preparing the opening, the replacement window can be placed into the opening and existing frame. Don’t forget to plumb, level and square the window at each step of the installation to ensure a proper, balanced fit.

Consult with a Professional Installer

The requirements necessary to replace a window in an existing wall demand a clear vision of your design ideas and a precise installation of your window. You can see detailed step-by-step installation plans based on both the kind of window, as well as the type of window opening, at install.pella.com.

Even with these illustrated instructions, a number of homeowners discover that the idea of incidental damage to their home (as well as the time, expense and labor demanded) make window installation a project they’d rather not undertake. Planning with a professional home window installation expert, like the pros at Pella of Cheyenne, provides the technical knowledge and know-how to do the job right.

Wherever you are in your home window replacement project, contact a Pella professional today. Even if you are thinking about replacing a home window on your own, a technician can help determine what installation method is best for your home and discuss installation options.

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