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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 options can make a more dramatic change than replacing your home windows. But while many other improvements can be handled with a little work and a good strategy, replacing a home window demands substantial work and a bit of technical knowledge.

So, replacing your windows is no easy task. You’ll want to identify what type of window is necessary, the specific plans 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 concerns you may need to think about:

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 creating a new window frame, taking out a damaged frame, or otherwise exposing the wall down to the studs, consider new construction windows, also called full frame replacement windows. Pocket replacement windows can be installed in projects where the window frame is not being removed, is in good condition and properly leveled.

The size of your window will also play a role in which kind of window you should use. Replacing a window with a window that is the same size will make a pocket replacement window a better choice. Still, upgrading your window to a larger size will require taking out the previous frame and creating a new frame to fit your larger window as part of a full frame installation. Because of that, a full frame replacement window will be needed for the job.

Removing the Old Frame

Choosing a full frame replacement window, as the name implies, typically calls for replacing the existing window frame, sashes and screen. This can normally be taken care of with a utility knife, screwdrivers, pry bar, hammer, putty knife and circular saw, depending on your existing window.

To safeguard your home exterior trim when removing the frame, lay a block of wood between the wall material and window, and then use a pry bar to take out the existing window trim.

Full Frame Window Options

Two window options can meet your needs when undergoing a full frame window installation: Nail fin windows and block frame windows.

Nail fin windows are often use in new construction projects, or any remodel where the walls will be exposed to the frame (studs). These windows have a thin piece of metal added to the window itself that goes around the perimeter of the window frame. When adding 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.

Applying a nail fin window can be both labor-intensive and may need the addition of a new window frame or removal of siding so the installer can apply 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 installed before the rest of the wall is finished around it. Plus, if you are wishing to install a nail fin window to a present wall in a part of the house where a stone or brick exterior would also have to be replaced, the task might not be worth the expense demanded.

Block frame windows offer a choice for projects where nail fin windows would be more cumbersome to add. These windows are built without a nail fin and are designed to sit inside existing window flashing (the part of the window that holds material to prevent water from entering into the walls) with little new construction work. This makes block frame windows a standard replacement for a number of older homes that already have a window structure built or homes with siding or brick exteriors that would otherwise have to be impacted 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 built to be placed 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 placed, pocket replacements allow homeowners to maintain the original frame, trim, siding and casing.

Just as with full frame window replacement, the home exterior around the window opening will impact how the pocket replacement process works, however with not as many steps. As opposed to full frame replacement window removal, a good deal of the existing sash, hinges and operating hardware will be adjoined with screws that must be unscrewed before pulling out the head, jamb and sill stops with a pry-bar. Similar to the full frame replacement window, using a piece of wood to safeguard your wall exterior when uninstalling the old window is a good way to help avoid any unintended damage.

After taking out the existing sashes and inspecting and preparing the opening, the replacement window can be placed into the opening and existing frame. Remember 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 need a clear knowledge of your design goals and a precise installation of your window. You can find 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 detailed instructions, many homeowners realize that the chance of accidental damage to their home (as well as the time, expense and labor needed) make window installation a project they’d rather not handle. Meeting with a professional home window installation expert, like the staff at Pella of Wilmington, offers the technical knowledge and know-how to do the job safely.

Whatever part you are in in your home window replacement job, contact a Pella professional today. Even if you are thinking about replacing a home window on your own, a window installation pro can help you choose what installation method is best for your home and discuss installation options.

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