How to Install an Insert Replacement Window

Few home improvement projects make a bigger difference than replacing old, drafty windows. The single-pane, double-hung windows that were once standard in older homes are no longer practical in times of high energy costs, and new windows with double or triple panes may pay for themselves in just a few years through lower heating costs.

Window replacement is often done as a major home improvement project hired out to a professional contractor. Such projects can cost many thousands of dollars and are often financed through a home improvement loan. But by using insert replacement windows, a DIYer can do this work themselves at a fraction of the cost. Replacing three or four windows a year using inserts can allow you to update your entire house within a few years without emptying your bank account.

Insert replacements windows are designed with DIY installation in mind, and with a little preparation and practice, you will find that it can be done in just a couple of hours.

New Construction Windows vs. Insert Replacement Windows

Residential window units come in two main types: new construction windows, and insert replacement windows.

New construction windows have nailing fins attached to the window perimeter that allows the window to be nailed flat against the outside of the house. New-construction windows are best suited for new homes or for extensive remodels that involve radical exterior changes, but some contractors will choose them even for window replacement projects. When used in a replacement project, new construction windows will require you to remove the outer case moldings and portions of the siding in order to attach the nailing fins to the sheathing. This is normally a job for professionals. New construction windows are also the logical choice where a window opening is being enlarged. Home centers and builder’s supply houses generally stock a good inventory of new construction windows.

Insert replacement windows have no nailing fins and are meant to fit into existing window frames once the old sashes are removed. Using insert replacement windows minimizes the construction work since it doesn’t require the removal of the outer case moldings or siding. Insert replacements are a good choice for DIYers since they require only basic carpentry skills and are relatively inexpensive. Replacement windows are meant for retrofits only—you can’t install them in a newly framed opening.

But be aware that insert windows do slightly reduce the overall glass exposure of the window since they add an additional frame component. The overall glass exposure of a window shrinks by at least 2 to 3 inches in both directions when you install an insert window. The ease of installation and affordable cost, however, make insert windows a good choice for DIYers. It’s not uncommon to pay as much as $1,500 per window for a professional replacement, while a DIYer can often install an insert window themselves for as little as $250.

Insert replacement windows may be stocked in limited supply at home improvement centers and building supply centers, but it’s likely you will need to take measurements and have the windows custom-built for your window openings. You can expect this to take several weeks.

Professionals sometimes scoff at insert replacement windows, arguing that they are less durable and weatherproof than new construction windows. Many homeowners, though, find that carefully installed insert windows perform quite well for many, many years.

Before You Begin

Insert replacement windows are best for replacing standard double- or single-hung windows that open and close vertically. They are not a good choice if you are replacing sliders or casement windows that pivot open horizontally. For those types, it may be best to hire professionals to install new construction windows.

You will have several choices for frame materials and glazing. Frames can be made of solid wood, aluminum, wood-clad with aluminum or vinyl, or from a pure composite material with no wood at all. Glass glazing options now include a full range of options, ranging from single-pane glass suitable for mild climates to triple-pane insulated glass with low-E coatings and inert gas filling the gaps between panes.

Do your research before buying insert windows. There are many manufacturers, and the quality of the warranty is often a good indication of the durability of the window. Also, study the installation instructions; easy installation is an important quality for DIYers.

Proper sizing is critical when you are buying replacement windows. Insert replacement windows are designed to fit snugly with only the slightest of gaps to allow tight insertion within the existing window frame. Measure your window frame opening exactly as the manufacturer instructs, down to 1/16-inch increments. Ideally, the insert window unit should be only about 1/8 inch shorter and narrower than the window opening. In an older home, however, this can be tricky since window frames may be slightly out of square. Consult with the window specialist at your home center to ensure you’re buying the right size.

When buying vinyl or vinyl-clad insert windows, you should be able to order the windows to match the color of your window trim. If the right color isn’t available, make sure you are ordering windows that can be painted. Vinyl windows may not be paintable.

Safety Considerations

When you are replacing an old double-hung window, the process usually involves removing heavy pocket weights that counterbalance the window sashes. These weights are often made of lead, which needs to be disposed of in an approved manner. Never throw lead weights into household trash. Most communities now have procedures for disposing of hazardous materials such as lead. It may involve delivering the lead weights to a drop-off center equipped to handle them.

When installing insert replacement windows, take care to properly caulk the windows with a good-quality silicone caulk. Moisture seepage is the main cause of failure in replacement windows.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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