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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 projects, few options can make a more dramatic impression than replacing your home windows. But while many other projects can be completed with a little work and a good blueprint, replacing a home window needs significant work and a good deal of technical know-how.

As a result, replacing your windows is no easy job. You’ll want to identify what type of window is necessary, the specific steps required for replacing the window based on the size of the opening, and what items it will take to make the right fit for your new window. Here are a few things you may wish to consider:

What is Your Frame’s Condition?

The condition, or even presence, of the window frame is the first significant factor in matching the proper type of window to your replacement job. If you are constructing a new window frame, removing a damaged frame, or otherwise exposing the wall down to the studs, choose 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 part in which style of window you should install. Replacing a window with a window that is the same size will make a pocket replacement window a better choice. But, upgrading your window to a larger size will necessitate 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 demanded for the job.

Removing the Old Frame

Using a full frame replacement window, as the name infers, typically calls for replacing the current 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 existing window.

To protect your home exterior trim when taking out the frame, place a block of wood between the wall material and window, and then use a pry bar to clear away the existing window trim.

Full Frame Window Options

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

Nail fin windows are often use in new construction projects, or any job where the walls will be pulled to the frame (studs). These windows have a thin piece of metal added to the window itself that runs around the edges of the window frame. When adding the window to a new frame, this nail fin connects the window directly to the house’s studs and is unseen between the interior and exterior of your home.

Installing a nail fin window can be both hard work and may require the construction of a new window frame or removal of siding so the builder can add 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 put in before the rest of the wall is finished around it. Also, if you are looking 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 removed, the task might not be worth the effort needed.

Block frame windows bring an alternative for situations where nail fin windows would be more cumbersome to place. These windows come without a nail fin and are designed to sit inside existing window flashing (the area of the window that has material to prevent water from entering into your walls) with minor new construction work. This makes block frame windows a standard replacement for many older homes that currently have a window structure in place or houses with siding or brick exteriors that would otherwise have to be harmed or removed to install a nail fin window.

Using Your Existing Frame

Replacement pocket windows are a little different than full frame replacement windows and are built to fit inside an existing window frame. While the existing window sashes and exterior stops of the window should be uninstalled for the new window to be added, pocket replacements allow homeowners to keep the original frame, trim, siding and casing.

Just as with full frame window replacement, the wall exterior surrounding the window opening will impact how the pocket replacement process works, but with fewer steps. Unlike 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. As with the full frame replacement window, adding a piece of wood to protect your wall exterior when removing the old window is a sensible way to help defend against any accidental damage.

After taking out the existing sashes and inspecting and readying the opening, the replacement window can be set into the opening and existing frame. Make sure to plumb, level and square the window at each step of the installation to have the best chance for a proper, balanced fit.

Consult with a Professional Installer

The tasks needed to replace a window in an existing wall demand a clear knowledge of your design goals and a precise installation of your window. You can find detailed step-by-step installation manuals based on both the kind of window, as well as the type of window opening, at install.pella.com.

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

Wherever you are in your home window replacement plans, get in touch with a Pella professional today. Even if you are thinking about replacing a home window on your own, a professional can help you decide what installation method is right for your home and discuss installation options.

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