This Guy I was talking with told me that he had been looking into replacing his old windows in his house because they are single pane and the house is old enough that they might still have lead paint on them. He and his wife are expecting a kid in the next few months and he wanted to get it done before the child was born.
This probably is a good idea if they need replacing however I just read a research paper from some college in the midwest that found that the cost of replacing windows does not pay back even if you are making the home your permanent residence. In the study they were not taking into account the possibility of lead paint or that a single pane window might be worn beyond good function they only looked at replacing windows to upgrade to better insulated models.
With that in mind and the fact that it is possible to remove the lead from your moldings or even replace the moldings not to mention everything else in the house from baseboard moldings to doors and other items that might need replacing just to remove the lead paint there can be good reason to get this job done if you recently purchased a home or maybe even if you are thinking of selling a home and want to ask more for it.
How to Select the Right Replacement Window
Early on I understood the benefit of good windows and how they changed the feel of your home. In the Home I grew up in we had single pane side by side windows which was great because they were large and let in lots of light. They were drafty though so in the winter we would install a storm window which made the unit tight. We did the same in our screen doors which had removable screens that we would replace with glass. It wasn’t the most difficult thing to do and later on we would keep some of the windows as storm units year round. A friend up the street had double hung windows which were smaller. About half the width and less of the height of ours and they were made out of wood not aluminum frame. They were difficult to use and there wasn’t an option for a storm unit to reduce the winter drafts.
In the home I live in now I have single hung windows made of Vinyl. They are contractor grade windows but they function well. The top window does not come out for cleaning or move and the bottom window has a screen which I am thinking of getting storm panels made to reduce some of the drafts we get from the splitter bar area. If I had it to do over I think I would still stick with this type of window. It is double pane and supposedly insulated. But like I said insulated windows really do not pay back so Argon or other gasses are just a selling tool not so much for reality. Eventually the seals go on double pane glass units and then there is no benefit.
So, My suggestion to you is to pick a unit that is neither the most expensive or least expensive available.
You can purchase single hung double pane windows for as little as $90 a unit or you can pay as much as $400 for the same size window. The model that has the best cost benefit and a good long life is somewhere in between. You should expect to pay between $150 and $250 for a good single hung window unit. The cost will depend on the manufacture mostly but a better quality unit where you can actually feel that it is sturdy and the locking mechanism works well should be someplace in the middle. Give or Take $200 a unit is not out of line for a really good window.
You should shop around for your windows but most likely you are going to find decent deals at a home center and if you sign up for their credit cards you can normally get 10% off your first order. Are there ever sales on windows or when are these sales? It will depend on your location but often the early spring is a good time to get windows. Look for sales and even if you have to order them in the dead of winter you can always find a place in your basement to store them for a couple months.
How to get the right size replacement window
Measuring for doors and windows is not that difficult but you want to visit your retailer and ask them how they want you to measure for your type of window.
Normally what you are measuring is the rough opening of the window and not the actual window or any of its parts. Don’t be fooled and measure between moldings because they will be removed and normally discarded. You will also need to measure the angle of the window sill if it has an angle away from the house. Some do and some don’t it depends on the type of unit you have.
If you have brick or vinyl that is another thing you need to account for. Brick normally takes a bead of caulk around the outside of the window and not a molding. However if you have Vinyl Siding the window that was installed may be acting as a molding for the siding to hide behind. Talk with your supplier or maybe take a picture with your phone and show them what you have.
Another thing people don’t realize is that many retailers now require a visit to your home for free measurements before they will sell you the units and this means even if you are installing them yourself. They do this because windows and especially special order windows that they don’t always stock in the store are not returnable to the manufacturer for refund by the store. If a measurement is off the retailer wants to make sure they understand why and they want to reduce their losses and problems for you.
Installing Replacement Windows is really not that hard
Now that you made your order and your windows have arrived you need to begin the process of installing them. Most people can do this so don’t get frustrated but you might want to have some cardboard and tape around in case you have a problem and need to seal up your window for the night. You think cardboard isn’t enough? Well that is what all glass repair companies use now when they come out on an emergency call. They will tape up your window and order a replacement unit that might take over a week to arrive and then replace it when they have a slot for you. So, overnight won’t be a problem but most likely you won’t need to do this because the process is easy and goes fast.
The first thing you need to do is remove the windows so you can get to the moldings that hold it in.
Double Hung units come out really quick but a single hung unit requires that you remove two clips on either side of the window jam that hold the top unit in place.
Once the Glass is out you can examine the moldings and start to remove them. If you live in an older home you might have had counter weights on the window sash to help in the movement of the window. If you do remove the cords and just let the weights stay inside the wall. If you have pockets cut then you should make sure that they don’t stick out. Hammer them in flush or remove them.
If you have brick on the outside of your home you are likely to have metal retaining clips around the window that need to be either hammered flush or into the void between the brick and the house or they can be cut off with tin snips or a jig saw with a metal blade.
Once everything is removed you have the choice of using a chemical stripper to remove any paint that you might think contains lead. Don’t sand or scrape it off. If necessary you can also remove and replace the sill if there is rot or damage.
The only thing that should remain is a bead molding around the opening that will limit the window from falling through the opening. This most likely won’t be present on brick houses.
Dry fit the window to make sure it fits well then remove it so you can caulk the opening.
The manufacturer will then recommend that you use a 30 year silicon calk around the window. I suggest that you use a lot of it. Most installers place a single 1/4 inch bead. I suggest you use more than you think you need and then remove the excess later. you don’t want a bad caulk job to cause failure and this is the point where having a good seal is your priority.
Place the window unit into the opening and if needed use a suction cup to hold the window or have a friend on the outside just in case.
Once the window unit is centered you can use shims between the window and the frame where ever there is a screw opening. If there isn’t pre-drilled holes for screws then read the manufacturer’s instructions on where to drill them. Install screws to hold the unit in place. The screws should be tight but don’t go overboard and damage the window. Before you continue make sure the window operates properly.
Now you can cut off the remaining portions of the shims and fill the void around the window with insulation or foam in a can. Foam in a can expands a lot so don’t completely fill the gap with foam or it will expand and get all over everything and it is sticky.
Install your interior moldings and then go outside and caulk around the window with a paintable extended life silicon latex caulk.
Painting is all that has to be done and some clean up.
The guy I was talking with was quoted two prices for seven single hung vinyl replacement windows. The first was $3,200 and the second was $5,800 and both quotes used about the same quality window.
By going to a home store and doing the work himself he paid on average $138 for a double hung unit and paid about $7 per unit for caulk and new molding on the interior. Total cost ended up being about $1,200 for a savings of $2,000 to $4,600 and that didn’t account for any overruns or the extra heavy caulking job he did.
So, you can get someone to do the work for you or you can save a ton of money doing it yourself. There are people out there at retailers that their primary job is to help you understand what you need to buy and how to make it work. Many of them will even send someone to your home to take measurements.
With the money you save you can make other upgrades in your home or just save the money for something you may really need.