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Super Home Center Article

Replacement Window Installer Shares Secrets

By Robert Clarke

Are you thinking about taking on a good do-it-yourself home improvement project? With some simple tools and a few tips from a professional installer, you can take on the job of installing your own vinyl replacement windows.


The newer vinyl replacement windows have many benefits to offer owners of older homes. First of all, it’s all but impossible to find stock windows at your local lumber yard or home improvement center that fit the measurement of the openings from your old windows. Since the newer vinyl replacement windows are made-to-order, the size you get will be a perfect fit.

Another advantage to considering vinyl replacement windows is, you don’t have to cut the window existing opening bigger to accommodate a larger window or patch the inside walls and siding because the new window is smaller than the old opening. Since the new replacement windows will be built to fit your existing openings, no other major alterations need to happen. Usually, a little caulking and some minor touch-up painting is all that’s necessary.

Some other important advantages of installing new vinyl replacement windows are also inviting. You can expect some energy savings on your fuel bill because of the better insulating properties of thermo pane glass. The glass can also be tinted to reflect heat or to block UV rays. You’ll love the tilt-in panes for easy cleaning. No more risky trips up the ladder. Newer windows usually have fewer problems with condensation in winter time because of the better insulating properties of the newer glass panes.


You’ll need to take an exact measurement, height and width of each window frame to be replaced. Put a small piece of masking tape on each window and give it a number for identification. Write the number of each window on a list, along with the height and width measurements for each window. Tell your window supplier to tag each window ordered with the corresponding number from your list. This will be a great time saver later on when the windows arrive. You’ll know exactly where each window goes.

When measuring, use a carpenters framing square to check each window for square. If a window is 1/8th inch out of square, you’ll need to deduct 1/8th inch from your measurement(s). Use a small level also to check for level and plumb. If the top and bottom of the window opening are level, yet the opening is out of square, there’s a good chance that the side openings are not plumb. If the side opening is 1/8th inch out of plumb, deduct 1/8th inch from the "width" measurement. Usually, your window supplier can give you a printed sheet with their measuring and ordering guidelines. Don’t worry; most windows are built with sliding top or side moldings to make up for out of square openings.


It’s best if you have a helper, at least someone to hold the window in place while you attach the mounting screws.

From inside the home, use a flat pry bar to remove the stop moldings on the sides and top of the window. Pull the bottom sash inside. You’ll have to cut the weighted ropes on each side to release the window. The lead weights will then drop down inside the wall cavity. Don’t worry, you won’t need them. Once the bottom sash is out, remove the top sash the same way. Use a paint scraper to clear away any paint chips that might prevent the new window frame from sitting properly. You should then brush and vacuum any debris and dust from the opening.

Slide the new window into the opening to check the fit. If all looks good, remove the window and prepare the opening for installation. Each window manufacturer may have their own specific instructions for installation. Generally, you’ll want to run a bead of caulking on the sill and sides for the new window to "set" in. Most windows will have pre-drilled openings in the sides for mounting screws, which are also usually provided.

Next, set the new window back into the opening. Press the unit forward to rest against the outside window stop moldings. Check the window for plumb on the sides. Use wooden shims to move the unit as needed. Once the frame is plumb in the opening, check it with your framing square. Again, shim as needed to get the unit square.

The next thing you’ll want to check is that the unit is plumb, from inside, to outside. Again, use wooden shims to force your new window unit into plumb. You’ll also want to take note where the mounting screws will go and put wooden shims in, as necessary, to fill any voids where screws will be placed. After installing the mounting screws, check each window for smooth operation. You may find it necessary at this point, to remove or add shims for proper operation of the window.

After you are comfortable with the operation of each unit, you’ll want to slide the extension moldings on the top and sides, to take up any extra space. You can then apply a bead of caulk around all four sides of the window, inside and out.


To install new vinyl replacement windows is not rocket science. With these tips, some simple tools and printed instructions from your supplier, you can easily install your own vinyl replacement windows.

Robert Clarke has operated several home improvement companies over the last 30 years. He is the owner of ContractorsUSA Inc., a nationwide contractor referral service at

Get more information about vinyl replacement windows at

ContractorsUSA Inc, 2005 – All Rights Reserved

San Diego CA Windows / Replacement Windows

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