Better Windows: Installation
Professional, experienced installation is key to the performance, durability and maintenance of your new windows. For this reason, most manufacturer’s warranties specifically exclude caulk and improper installation. Caulk can be interior or exterior specific and cost from $1.99 – $7.99/tube. Better caulk will form a weathertight seal for many years with permanent elasticity, without shrinking, cracking, sagging or slumping. It adheres to most building materials (brick, stucco, wood, cement fiberboard, vinyl, fiberglass and aluminum), is waterproof and mold/mildew resistant. Two brands proven to stand up are NovaFlex and OSI Quad. Our window installers say the NovaFlex is easier to work with and it’s offered by and color matched to the Sunrise V-Class window and other quality manufacturer’s windows. OSI is an excellent choice as well, especially if installing JamesHardie ColorPlus siding to which it is color matched.
The first step in professional installation is proper measurements of each window opening. Remember, your brick, stucco and/or siding was installed by the builder after your windows. Therefore, correct measurements may vary from one opening to the next even with the same size original window. Brick openings can be out of square and uneven due to either the original masonry work or settling of the home.
Several width measurements are taken along the vertical plane and height measurements taken along the horizontal plane of the opening to find the shortest distance. 1/4” is then deducted to allow room to insert the new window leaving only 1/8” on each side where a bead of caulk is applied inside and out for a double barrier, weather-tight seal.
On the interior side, your drywall or wood window casing will cover a portion of the window frame, therefore most measurements are taken from the exterior. However, it is important to caulk the seam where the new window frame meets drywall or wood casing.
Now that we’ve covered width and height, depth must be considered. Most single pane aluminum window frames are approx. 2 ½” in depth where the new vinyl windows are, with few exceptions, 3 ¼” in depth. In a brick opening, this difference in depth usually does not require any modification as the new window simply covers ¾” more of the exterior brick return than the old frame. Where siding is present, the exterior edge of the original window frame sits approx. 1/8” behind the 1x4 siding trim. Therefore, the new window would protrude past the siding trim and would neither look appealing nor perform properly. The most common way of handling this depth difference is to cut back the drywall and wood window stool ¾” so the new window is seated further inside with the exterior frame edge sitting where the old frame did. Professional installers have vacuum hoses attached to some of their saws. Upon completion of cutbacks, dust and debris should be vacuumed and cleaned up as cutting drywall and wood stools create a dusty environment. Proper exterior and interior caulk are then applied.
Before deciding to cut back openings in siding, you should consider your window returns, that 3-6” interior drywall or wood trim inside the house where some windows may have granite stools, tile returns and/or window treatments that cannot be cut back or moved to accommodate the additional depth. Some homes have only a 3- 3-1/2” drywall return. When the brackets for the blinds are 3” wide, a cut back may push the brackets out into the room and look less than desirable or cannot be fastened securely In these cases, the usual solution is a 1x2 build out of siding trim material fastened to the existing 1x4 so the trim steps nicely as it builds to the depth of the new window. Often, a single build out, say where a granite window stool is located over the kitchen sink or the master bathtub will look fine. Other times, homeowners may want all their windows built out for a more consistent appearance. You will want to consider additional costs of material and carpentry for build-outs and for painting your new trim. Your consultant should go over the options considering all windows visible from each elevation of the home.
Finally, you’ll want to ensure the fasteners used to install your new windows will not rust or corrode. Though many window manufacturers included screws with the product, our installer discards the included fasteners in favor of 2 ½” deck screws which have a hex head to prevent stripping and are specially coated to prevent rust and corrosion. These better fasteners help ensure a lifetime installation to go with the manufacturer’s lifetime warranty.
Professional installation is a key component in a quality turnkey project. Poor installation negates the benefits of even the highest quality window. Ask your consultant to fully explain the installation process and what is and is not included. Replacing and/or painting rotting or termite infected exterior trim, and/or framing and/or improperly installed or wet drywall usually entails additional labor and material costs to the homeowner. Read the fine print and ask questions. Larger companies use many installation crews. Some crews are excellent, some mediocre, others inexperienced or worse incompetent. Better installers typically take more time and care during the measure, removal and replacement process to ensure a better fit, proper seal and a cleaner install. Inexpensive windows usually entail cheaper material and labor costs to leave room for profit. The bottom line – you usually get what you pay for.
While much information is available to the consumer, most homeowners require an educational approach from a professional they can trust to decipher which information is marketing and which is important in finding the window and installation that best suits their needs. An objective expert should be willing to point you in the right direction even if the product they offer is not the right fit for you and your home. Our choice of manufacturing partners may not fit every situation, but if you plan to stay in your home or to leave behind a saleable asset for your children, we offer professional grade installation of the right products with the most comprehensive warranties at aggressively competitive prices. At Truwin, we believe it is our duty to go above and beyond sales to assist our homeowners with their choice. We seek to build partnerships with homeowners for all their remodeling needs.
For more information, please call to schedule a free in-home consultation.
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