ASK STEVE: Window Installation tips and recommendations

My wife’s Dad wants to replace the windows on his house with vinyl units, the kind designed to be installed without disturbing the existing wooden frames. We’re thinking of doing the work ourselves, and need to know what precautions to take so the job gets done in an efficient and effective manner. If we decide to have someone else do the installation, what should we look for in their work?

Window installation may seem simple, but it’s a moderately difficult do-it-yourself job. Good windows are highly sophisticated and require specific installation details be met to reach their full potential. If neither you nor your father-in-law has ever done this work before, then learning on a bunch of windows in his house probably isn’t a great idea. Marrying his daughter is one thing, but ruining his house while boosting heating bills might not be the best way to bond with the man. Perhaps it’s wiser to gain experience on a garage or tool shed window first.

The Window Installation Procedure has Four Steps:

  1. measuring the openings and ordering your replacement windows
  2. removing the old windows
  3. shimming the new windows in place and anchoring them
  4. then sealing the gaps with caulking and foam.

As it turns out, window performance depends so much on proper installation procedures, that the industry here in Canada has launched a training and verification program for professional installers. It’s called Window Wise and is so successful that it’s moving into the US market now. I’ve read the training and testing manuals used in Window Wise classrooms, and the techniques taught are complete and trustworthy. There’s no reason to choose a window installer who doesn’t understand and follow these guidelines.

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