Window Replacement Instructions & What to Watch Out For
Are you looking for a renovation project to improve the energy efficiency of your home and increase your property value? Replacement windows are an excellent way to reach this goal while also giving the exterior of your house a bit of a facelift.
In fact, it is one of the most common requests we receive from Houston homeowners. While many television shows about home repair and renovation make this project look like it is super easy, the truth is that it really isn’t a beginner’s project and you can very easily run into all kinds of issues when you’re putting in new windows if you’re not careful.
Benefits of Replacement Windows
Before we dive right into the process, let’s talk about why you might consider replacing the windows in your home. Today’s styles are much more energy efficient and offer better insulation than those from the past. Changing them out can easily save you from having to pay extra heating and cooling bills throughout the year.
Sound dampening is another benefit most people enjoy. If you live near a busy road or in an area that is just plain noisy, you will certainly enjoy the quietness that comes with replacing your current windows.
And let’s appreciate the visual aspects of installing new windows throughout your home. Not only does this add immense curb value to help improve the exterior aesthetic of your home, modern windows are also easier to clean due to a special tilt feature.
In short, adding new windows to your home has a large number of benefits. Now you just have to decide if it is worth your time and money to attempt the project yourself.
How to Install Replacement Windows
Step #1: Start by Removing the Old Window
This might seem like an obvious first step, but it is really important to remove the old window before you can replace it with a new one. At this point, you should already have your custom-made windows available and ready for immediate installation. Unscrew the frame and go all the way down to the sheetrock and framing if you can.
In our video, you can see that we’ve taken out the window and are now down to just the basic structure where the frame once was. You shouldn’t have to remove any trim at this point, but we will check for issues like that in the next couple steps.
Step #2: Remove the Glass from the New Window
While lighter than some previous designs, new windows are still a little bulky and heavy if you’re trying to work with them as a whole. Instead, professional installers generally remove the glass and set it aside until after they’ve already installed the frames. This makes getting your new window frame in the right position much easier and helps when it’s time to add screws to the frame to secure it in place.
Step #3: Install the New Window Frames
Now comes the fun part: installing the actual frame itself. With the old window out, you should be able to align the new frame into the opening where the old frame used to be. You will need a level to ensure the frame is in the right position and possibly even a helper or two to hold it in place.
Next, you’ll add screws to secure the frame in the opening. The number of screws and the positioning will likely depend on the size of the window you’re installing. In some cases with larger openings, you might even need a mull system to help attach multiple window frames together.
This is often the time when do-it-yourselfers find themselves in a bit of trouble. If there’s going to be a major problem with securing the new window in place or matching trim up, this will be where you will find it.
Step #4: Replace the Glass
Next, you want to place the new glass into the frames. This is also a good time to check that the window opens and shuts easily. It’s probably the easiest part of the whole window installation process, as today’s windows are designed to easily tilt out for cleaning and other maintenance tasks. Once you’ve done this and your window looks like it should, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step #5: Seal the Window
Finally, you want to seal the window to keep water and air from leaking around the frame. If there are large gaps, you will need backer rods to fill into the spaces before you caulk. Backer rod is a special type of cylindrical foam that sort of looks like a rope and is designed to act as a barrier. Our video does a great job of explaining this process including tips from a pro on how to install it with a putty knife.
From there, you need to caulk around the edges of the window to create a seal. To ensure the caulk is smooth, spray it with a little WD-40 after squeezing from the caulking gun, wipe smooth with your finger to remove ridging or bubbling, then remove the residue with a clean rag. This is a tip that you likely won’t see anywhere else, but our professional in the video swears by it!
See how you can easily caulk like a pro and save up to 20% in energy bills for $30 and a 2 hour project.
Potential Pitfalls When Installing Replacement Windows
Of course, big projects like this always have a few downsides. If the home is older and the windows are original, you can also run into situations where the surrounding trim isn’t flush with the new window. In this case, you might even have to purchase additional trim to cut, paint, and install after the new window is in.
You can also easily get the wrong windows or incorrect sizing. Nearly every older home is just a little bit different, so make sure you’re working with a professional supplier when purchasing new ones. They will often guide you on the appropriate way to measure or send out a representative to help. This is not a project where you want to just buy off the shelf from your local home improvement store.
Why Should You Consider Hiring a Professional for Window Replacement in Houston?
As you’ve seen, replacing windows in your home can be very time-consuming and complicated. In fact, most people—including seasoned home renovation experts—don’t even want to attempt it without professional guidance. While we hope this video helps you understand the process more clearly, we highly advise hiring a professional to tackle the job for you.
At Legal Eagle Contractors, we offer numerous services to help turn your home renovation dreams into reality. From smaller projects like moving a light switch to large scale renovation projects and new builds, we handle it all. Please contact us today to discuss your project.
Article reviewed by Dan Bawden, CAPS, GMB, CGR, CGP, and President of Legal Eagle Contractors.