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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 produce a more dramatic change than replacing your home windows. But while many other jobs can be completed with a little work and a good plan, replacing a home window needs serious work and a good deal of technical smarts.

As a result, replacing your windows is no easy feat. You’ll want to understand what type of window you’ll be using, the specific tasks required for replacing the window based on the size of the opening, and what tools it will take to create the correct fit for your new window. Here are a few concerns you may wish to consider:

What is Your Frame’s Condition?

The condition, or even presence, of the window frame is the first prominent factor in matching the correct type of window to your replacement project. If you are building a new window frame, removing a damaged frame, or otherwise pulling the wall down to the studs, consider new construction windows, also known as full frame replacement windows. Pocket replacement windows can be placed 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 purchase. Replacing a window with a choice that is an equal size will make a pocket replacement window easier. But, upgrading your window to a larger size will necessitate removing the previous frame and building a new frame to fit your larger window as part of a full frame installation. That means 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 requires replacing the pre-existing window frame, sashes and screen. This can usually be done with a utility knife, screwdrivers, pry bar, hammer, putty knife and circular saw, depending on your installed window.

To protect 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 clear away the old window trim.

Full Frame Window Options

Two window choices can meet 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 job where the walls will be exposed to the frame (studs). These windows feature a thin piece of metal extending from the window itself that goes around the perimeter 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 placed between the interior and exterior of your home.

Installing a nail fin window can be both labor-intensive and may need the construction of a new window frame or removal of siding so the person placing the window can apply the nail fin to the studs. Nail fin windows are more convenient 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. Plus, if you are wishing to place a nail fin window to a current wall in an area of the house where a stone or brick exterior would also have to be removed, the process might not be worth the time required.

Block frame windows offer an alternative for jobs where nail fin windows would be more damaging to install. These windows come without a nail fin and are designed to be placed inside existing window flashing (the section of the window that holds 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 presently have a window structure constructed or houses with siding or brick exteriors that would otherwise have to be harmed or removed to place a nail fin window.

Using Your Existing Frame

Replacement pocket windows are slightly different than full frame replacement windows and are created 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 installed, 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 play a role in how the pocket replacement process works, but with not as many steps. As opposed to full frame replacement window removal, much of the existing sash, hinges and operating hardware will be attached with screws that must be unscrewed before clearing away 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 prevent any accidental damage.

After pulling out the existing sashes and inspecting and preparing the opening, the replacement window can be installed 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 tasks required to replace a window in an existing wall need a clear understanding of your design ideas and a exact installation of your window. You can review detailed step-by-step installation instructions based on both the type of window, as well as the type of window opening, at install.pella.com.

Even with these detailed instructions, a number of homeowners discover that the possibility of accidental damage to their home (as well as the time, price and labor needed) make window installation a project they’d rather not take on. Planning with a professional home window installation expert, like the staff at Pella of Casper, provides the technical knowledge and know-how to do the job correctly.

Wherever you are in your home window replacement plans, call a Pella professional today. Even if you are thinking about replacing a home window on your own, a professional can help you choose what installation method is correct for your home and discuss installation approaches.

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