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Can I Install Replacement Windows Myself?

If you know you need a replacement window, it can be tempting to want to do the job yourself, especially if you have received a high estimate from a home improvement contractor for installing a replacement window. While some home improvement jobs can certainly be DIY, it can be difficult to know when to try it yourself or to seek out a professional. Depending on your skill level and abilities, you may be able to replace a window yourself if you have the tools. However, if it is a big project with multiple window replacements, it is certainly worth onboarding a professional window replacement contractor.

Signs Your Windows Need Replacing

  1. Your heating and cooling bills are growing If your utility bills are increasing year on year, this can be a clear sign your windows are not working effectively.

  1. You are having trouble opening and closing your windows If your windows are hard to open or close, this could mean your windows have reached their maximum life span. Layers of paint, water damage, warping and wood rot all negatively impact the operation of your window, which most often cannot be repaired.

  1. You have single-pane windows Single pane windows lack the benefits of newer, double or triple pane windows offer, with increased energy efficiency being the biggest one. Double and triple pane windows are insulated and the cushion of inert gas maintained between the two or three panes of glass can make a big difference in your energy bills, noise reduction and maintaining a steady, comfortable temperature in your home.

  1. There is noticeable condensation or fogging between panes When you see condensation or fogging between your existing window panes, this is an indication that the window’s seals have failed.  Seal failure cannot typically be repaired, so the window or the insulated glass unit (IGU) requires replacement.

The Type of Window Replacement

In order to determine if you can install a replacement window yourself, it is important to discern whether it is a new construction window or a replacement window. A new construction window has fins or nailing flanges that let the window be nailed to the front exterior sheathing of your house. New construction windows are typically used when you are undertaking a big home project, like major renovating or a knock-down and rebuild. 

Replacement windows on the other hand are window units that have window sashes inside a small frame and are designed to fit into an existing window frame. These windows are generally installed from inside the house. Because replacement windows do not have fins or nailing flanges, the new window fits straight into the existing opening.

Can You Install a Replacement Window Yourself?

When it comes to replacement windows, you do not have to remove or replace any window trim (although that is a normal component of a professional window installation.) With new construction windows, trim must be removed on both sides of the window and is typically replaced with new trim. New construction windows also require you to handle outside waterproofing, caulking and installing new flashing.

Taking a basic viewpoint, a replacement window can generally be installed with the right skills and tools. However, removing the existing window while preserving the trim, sill and drywall can be a tricky process. Additionally, for replacement windows to perform as intended, the existing window frame must be perfectly square. Not to mention the frame needs to be solid and have no signs of rot or any structural damage. If you do choose to install a replacement window yourself, make sure you check with the window manufacturer to ensure the inserts will work.

New construction windows on the other hand are best left to a professional, or at the very least you should have basic skills in carpentry and construction.

Tips for Installing Replacement Windows

  1. Choose the right replacement window for your needs
  2. Make sure the positioning is right. Use plastic packers and always leave a small clearance between the frame and wall.
  3. Unlock and open all window sashes to make sure no binding occurs
  4. Seal the windows in place
  5. Leave to dry

Or, if you need help replacing your windows, get in touch with Windows on Washington for a free quote.

Replacement Windows Buyer's Guide


Topics: Replacement Windows