Whether you’re looking to sell your home or live in it for the next 40 years, windows play an important role in both endeavors. For those wanting to sell, low-quality, ugly windows or windows that simply don’t match the style of the house can be a turn-off to prospective buyers; for those wanting to continue living in their home, ill-fitting or drafty windows can be a huge drain on your wallet due to high heating and cooling bills.
That is why we here at Movoto would like to teach you some real estate tips on how to install replacement windows using 12 easy steps, courtesy of from This Old House. This project should take around 4 to 6 hours and should cost around $500 to $600 (if you’re installing a high-performance 36 x 54-inch wood insert replacement window down on the ground floor). If the window in question is bigger or is on the second or higher floor, it may take longer and/or be more expensive.
- Measure the Window. Pull out the old tape measure; measure the inside width of the old window frame across the top, middle, and bottom (you’ll be doing this from jamb to jamb); and take note of which of the 3 is the smallest. Next up, get the frame’s height; you’ll get it by measuring at the left jamb, in the middle, and at the right jamb. (Measure from the top of the sill to the underside of the head jamb.) Measure from corner to corner diagonally in order to determine the squareness of the frame. Since you can sometimes select the sill angle of your new window, be sure to also measure the slope of the sill with an angle-measuring tool. All of this will need to be performed long before you order your new window.
- Take Out the Sash. To remove the lower sash, carefully take out the fragile interior wooden stops by either prying them off or by unscrewing them. To remove the upper sash, take out the parting beads, if installed. (Some windows may not have beads.) Once the beads have been removed, push the jamb liners in, pull the top sash out, and then tilt upward one side of the sash to get the sash out of the jamb liners.
- Pry Off the Jamb Liners. Vinyl or aluminum jamb liners can be removed using a flat bar. Meanwhile, original windows should have any leftover wooden stops removed from the frame and the interior and exterior casings left untouched.
- Prep the Frame. Any loose and/or blistered paint needs to be scraped off, any holes and/or cracks need to be filled in with exterior-grade wood putty, and then all the jambs need to be sanded, primed, and painted.
- Remove the Old Sash Weights. The original sash weights may or may not still be in place. If they are, take them out of their pockets by unscrewing the access panels on the side jambs, then insulate behind the window frame.
- Prep for Insulation. The weight pockets may be filled with fiberglass, so go ahead and remove it. (Be sure to wear gloves!) You will then bore three 3/8-inch-diameter holes down through the sill and up through the head jamb, one in the middle and one near each end.
- Spray In the Foam. We recommend using low-pressure, minimally expanding polyurethane foam intended for windows and doors for this step, as any high-pressure foam will cause frame warping. Spray foam into the sash-weight pockets, as well as the holes you drilled earlier until the foam starts coming out. You will then need to let the foam harden for 6 hours minimum, then you can remove the excess until the surfaces are flush. Now replace the sash-weight pocket panels.
- Caulk the Opening. Elastomeric caulk works best here. You will be applying it to several areas: the exposed inner face of the exterior casings, the blind stops on the top of the frame (as well as the sides), and along the windowsill. (Be sure to apply two continuous beads to the sill.)
- Install the Window. Now comes installing the window proper, which should be done from inside the house. Put the bottom of the new window on the sill, then push it upwards so the whole window is now in the opening. Push on the window so it fits tightly against the exterior casings or blind stops.
- Fasten It Loosely. Put one 2-inch screw loosely into the framing, through the upper side jamb, so the window will stay in place. The screw should be in just enough so the window can operate. Now close and lock the sash.
- Shim as Necessary. You need to make sure that the window is centered properly and that it opens, closes, and locks easily. You can do this by putting shims in under the sill and behind the side jambs. Now, take your tape measure and measure from corner to corner diagonally. If the measurements are identical, then the window is square. You can now screw it in place using the holes you drilled earlier. In order to prevent yourself from damaging the frame, just screw each screw through a shim placed behind the jamb. Finally, take a utility knife and cut the shims so they’re flush.
- Caulk, Prime, and Paint. Any gaps between the window frame and the casing on the outside of the house must be filled. Elastomeric caulk works for gaps less than 1/4 inch wide; foam-rubber backer rod works for gaps wider than 1/4 inch wide. Inside the house, use more of your low-pressure, minimally expanding polyurethane foam to fill in gaps around the window. Reinstall the stops or, if desired, put new ones in. To finish up, just prime and paint, or you can instead opt to stain the interior of the window sash and frame.
Now you’re done! Enjoy your new window!
Stephanie Huskey is the resident real estate blogger for Movoto and would feel better if she left installing windows up to carpenters and other home-remodeling professionals. Interested in getting her advice on your blog? She’s currently seeking guest blogging opportunities so she can share her knowledge with new communities! You can find her over here at Elance.com.