Guide for Installing Replacement Windows: 60-seconds to Success

December 15, 2009

If outdated windows are hurting your curb appeal and skyrocketing your energy costs, pull out your toolbox and do something about it. Here is a quick lesson on how to install replacement windows without having to call a professional in to bail you out.

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  1. Measure for Replacements. This is the single most important step. Measure jamb to jamb and sill to jamb--top, middle and right. Always record the smallest measurement.
  2. Take Out the Sash. Simply press in on the jamb liners and pull the sash top forward. You may have to unscrew the interior wooden stops first.
  3. Pry off the Jamb Liners. Use a flat bar to pry off the vinyl or aluminum jamb liners. Leave the interior and exterior casings intact.
  4. Prep the Frame. Scrape off loose and blistered paint. Fill any holes or blemishes with an exterior-grade wood putty. Then sand the jambs and prime.
  5. Remove Old Sash Weights. Remove the original sash weights from their pockets. You'll have to unscrew the access panel to get to them.
  6. Prep for Insulation. Use polyurethane foam--it's better at blocking air than fiberglass insulation. Use low-pressure, minimum-expansion foam for best results.
  7. Spray in the Foam. Spray foam into the sash-weight pockets in the side jambs and allow it to harden for at least six hours.
  8. Caulk the Opening. Apply elastomeric caulk to the exposed inner face of the exterior casings.
  9. Install the Window. Set the bottom of the replacement window into the sill from inside the home and press tightly.
  10. Fasten Loosely. Work one 2-inch screw loosely into the upper side jamb and into the framing for support.
  11. Shim as Necessary. Install shims into the sill to reach a precise measurement.
  12. Caulk, Prime and Paint. Fill gaps less than 1/4 inch wide with elastomeric caulk--then prime and paint the sash and frame.

Read through these "how to install replacement windows" instructions at least twice before embarking on your project, and keep a print out of these steps handy.

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