How to Replace an Old Window in Your Home

A Guide to Installing a New Window in Your Home

If your old wooden window is drafty, does not open or close well, or is showing signs of water damage and decay, it is probably time to think about replacing it with a new state-of-the-art Low-E glass, vinyl-clad window.

Also, if the glass pane associated with your existing old wooden window is foggy or you can feel cold drafts during the winter months emanating out from around it, or you need to hold it open during the summer months with a prop of some sort then it is definitely time to replace it.

Replacing an old window is something a Do It Yourself homeowner can tackle with some basic carpenters knowledge and a few basic carpentry tools that you probably already have in your home.

Purchasing the Proper New Window

Prior to installing a new window you first need to figure out what size window to purchase. The key parameter required when ordering a new window is its rough opening. This is specified by the window manufacturer and tells you how large of an opening you need for installing a specific window. Typically the rough opening is 1 to 2 inches taller and wider than the actual window itself.

You may need to remove the interior trim from around the old window to obtain the rough opening dimensions for your new window.

Make sure you purchase a new window that has rough opening requirements that are equal to or smaller than your measurements.

Removal of the Old Window

Once you have purchased your new window it is time to remove the old one. Using a hammer and a claw remove the old exterior trim and any nails that may be securing the window to the home. There may be a nailing flange around the perimeter of the old window. Simply use your hammer and claw to remove these nails.

With the nails removed the window should be able to be pulled out of the window frame opening.

Installation of the New Window

With the old window out, it is now time to install the new window. Before, installing the new window, make sure the rough window opening is clear of any debris and any old nails.

Place the new window into the window opening and center it within the window frame.

Use a level and a measuring tape to make sure the window is plumb and square, otherwise, the window will not work properly. You may need to add some shims to plumb and square up the new window.

Once the window is plumb and square within the window frame, fasten it with a couple of nails. With most new windows they come with a nailing flange that makes nailing the window to the outside home exterior straightforward.

When nailing the window, start on the upper right-hand side and work your way down with just a couple of nails. Check again with the level to make sure the window is level and plumb. Also, take one more look at the inside of the window to make sure the window is square and centered.

If the window has remained square and plumb, go ahead and install a couple of additional nails on the other side of the window. Again, one at the top, and the other about halfway down the window.

Then go into the home and remove/cut away the retention bands that held the window square during the window installation. Slide the windows up a down and see if they operate smoothly.

If the window operates smoothly go ahead and add additional nails every 4-6 inches around the nailing flange of the window. If it does not, you may need to remove one or more of the initial nails installed and readjust the window to make sure it is plumb and square.

With the window now installed, add new trim boards around the window perimeter on both the inside and outside of the window and enjoy your new view.