Elbert Insights: Residential Window Installation Process

Replacing your house’s windows is one of the home exterior upgrades that often leads to energy cost savings, improved comfort and safety inside the home, increases the home’s value, and makes your life as a homeowner more beautiful and bright. There are a few steps to the process of installing a window. Measuring for the new window, old window removal and disposal, and necessary safety precautions for replacing a window are just some of the considerations. Here is a timeline of professional residential window replacement and steps to make sure a window is replaced or installed correctly.

Step One: Determine Residential Window Size and Needs

The first thing you should know to install a window in an existing wall is that your replacement window needs to be a little smaller than the old one. This is because a new frame must be built to make sure the window is secure. However, that’s a few steps ahead. Here are the measurements to take before buying a residential window to make sure the window will fit:
Measure the height of the window inside the frame along both sides and in the middle.
Measure the width of the window at the top, middle, and bottom
You might be surprised when all these numbers aren’t exactly identical! Use the smallest numbers on your list to define the size of a window you will buy for your home. The new window needs to be about three-quarters of an inch smaller than the old one, to leave room for the new frame. However, it's best to trust your installer with this task, as the order and build-out has to be perfect.

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Step Two: Gather Materials and Supplies

Replacing a residential window requires lots of supplies and tools. A power drill, circular saw, hammer, level, finishing nails, a caulk gun and sealant, shims, fiberglass insulation, drywall, paint, and brushes are just some of the basic items required to do a quality job replacing a residential window.

Unless you’re comfortable working with lots of these items already, a window replacement project is not a good beginner-level DIY project for a homeowner. This is because of the high risk for injury or damage to property during a window installation. Between removing the old window and framing in a new window so it will be safe, secure, and weatherproof, there is a lot of room for error in the next steps. Contracting a professional to complete the work quickly and with ease may be more cost-effective and safe in the long run.

However, this also depends on the type of window being replaced. For example, insert windows are more straightforward to replace than full-frame windows or a bay window installation.

Step Three: Old Residential Window Removal

Removing an old residential window starts with cutting through the interior wall around the window using a utility knife. Using a hammer and chisel, the old wall is pried away to reveal where the window was originally framed into the house.

Then, outside, the exterior siding will need to be removed carefully so it can be put back later. This is another area where a professional has the skills needed to make sure siding is not damaged during a window replacement. If you have brick or other material like stucco on the exterior of your house instead, you should consult a professional local window contractor.

Before the nails are pulled and the window is removed, the glass should be taped up with a big X or other pattern of masking tape to prevent breakage during removal. Removing the nails and frame holding the window is another step where it is potentially very easy to damage the structure of a home. Many windows can be removed in one piece, but not all. If you have an older home or unique window with sills or other custom framing like shutters, consult a professional. High end window replacement projects like window upgrades or creating a bigger window are also best left to the experts.

Step Four: New Window Installation

The time has come for the new window to become part of the home. If you take on the project yourself, be sure you feel most confident in this part of the process. Before charging full-speed ahead, the raw opening in the house should be measured to make sure the window that has been purchased really will fit. This step can save a lot of time, frustration, and money!

Framing a residential window requires the header beam that supports the ceiling, roof, and any floors above the window. There are also two king studs that go along either side of the window, the sill that supports the weight from the bottom, and trimmers that fill in the gaps between the window and the main supports.

All these parts of the window frame are just as important to the structural integrity of your house as they sound. This is why it’s important not just to carefully question if you have the skills to do the project yourself, but also to find an experienced window contractor with a good reputation to do the work for you if that is what you decide. With the right person using the tools, many new window installations can be completed in a day or two.

Once the frame for the new window is constructed, seasoned window contractors take several precautionary steps to make sure the window fits snugly without damaging internal and exterior walls, before they actually attach the window to the house. This includes making sure a window is level. Caulking the window, adding insulation, reattaching siding, and adding trim and fresh paint are the finishing touches that make the window look like it has always been there.

Whether you feel ready to take on your window replacement alone or are thinking you want to hire a local window replacement contractor near you, we hope you now know what to expect when a window is being replaced in your home. There are several good signs that a contractor is doing a great job for you, and the other red flags we mentioned that might show someone is being unsafe, or not as skilled or attentive as they should be in their work.

If you just want to skip the worrying about whether someone knows what they are doing, or if you are getting a fair deal on Indiana residential window replacement, contact Elbert Construction. We replace windows across Central and Southern Indiana, from Evansville to Kokomo and everywhere in between. Every home we walk into we treat like it is our own, and take completing your project as seriously as if you were doing the work yourself. Let us help you install your new residential windows for a fair price and you’ll have our guarantee the job is done right.