Tom Shafer

Vinyl replacement windows explained

October 15, 2013

If you have an older home - one that maybe has the same windows installed as the day you moved in - you may be considering buying vinyl replacement windows. Older windows are prone to leaks and aren't as energy efficient as today's models, so replacing them can be a good long-term investment. But what exactly is being replaced? How long will it take? If you don't know where to start, take a look at the basics below so you know what's going to change in your home.

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First off, what is a replacement window? To start off with the obvious, it replaces an old window in your home with a new one. However, not every piece is replaced.

When you see ads for replacement windows, the product typically being discussed is a "pocket" replacement window. With these windows, the structure that holds the window glass (also called the sash) is removed, and the replacement window is installed. This leaves the actual window frame - which is only installed with new construction windows - untouched. The window frame is part of the structure of your home and can't be removed easily or cleanly.

So what do you do if you discover the window frame is part of the reason you need new windows? There are several possible fixes. If the wood frame of your window has rotted, it can usually be repaired with new wood parts or wood filler. If one of the reasons you're purchasing new windows is to avoid having to paint your existing wood window frame, you can have it capped with either thin aluminum or vinyl.

Because you don't need a whole new frame installed, pocket windows can be replaced quickly. Experienced window installers can do a window in about 20 minutes. This includes removing any trim pieces that hold the sash, removing the sash, cleaning the opening, caulking, inserting the new window, securing it with screws, insulating around the frame of the new window, and re-installing the stops.

What this all means for you is that you can get a new window without a lot of mess or hassle. You don't have to disturb your house, you can get new energy efficient glass, and you'll be enjoying the warmth and beauty of your vinyl replacement windows in almost no time.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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