How to Install Replacement Windows -- a DIY Guide for the Newbie

February 15, 2010

First--a brief caveat. Replacing your home windows is not a basic DIY project. If you're a newbie in the home improvement game, you'll want to defer to a professional contractor for this one. If you're still determined and you want to know how to install replacement windows, read on. Here is a quick "how-to" with common sticking points that facilitate your vinyl window installation project's success.

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  • Measure Your Window Openings
    Before you know how to install replacement windows, you need to know how to measure for them. Take measurements at each end and in the middle, using the smallest measurements to ensure fit. You can shim gaps, as necessary.

    HINT: Use a folding ruler as opposed to a traditional tape measure; it's easier to find the precise measurement.
  • Remove Your Old Windows
    It's best to remove sash and all. That way, the old windows have less of a chance to shatter and cause injury. Some sashes are embedded, in which case you'll be forced to remove the pane only. Always use hand and eye protection during the extraction.

    HINT: Place a huge "X" across the interior and exterior window panes using electrical tape; this will secure the glass in case it should shatter during removal.
  • Install Your New Windows
    Follow the manufacturer's guidelines that will come with your new windows. Use a level in various places to ensure that your windows are plumb. Open and close the window when you're finished to verify correct installation.

    HINT: Encourage an watertight seal by sealing the opening with sheets of waterproof membrane, strips of metal flashing and caulk.

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