Updated March 1, 2019 . AmFam Team
Your windows are the key to keeping your home safe, dry, warm and comfortable. And when they start to break down, get cracked or their seals stop working, you need to replace them as quickly as possible.
It’s easy enough to call a professional to have your faulty windows removed and replaced with a new window, seal and the works — but if you consider yourself handy and want to save some serious cash, it is possible to do the job yourself. But before you yank out your old window and damage your house’s structure, take a look at our list of DIY window installation tips.
Removing a window and replacing all its pieces with a new unit isn’t easy. Consider these factors before you decide against hiring a pro for the job:
Your experience. If you’ve removed and replaced a window successfully before, you’re already in a much better position than an inexperienced homeowner. However, don’t assume that all window replacement projects are the same. Consult the manufacturer’s website for instructions on removal and replacement before you start the job.
Price. Maybe you got a quote from your local window installation and replacement contractor in town and bristled at the price — now, you’re determined to do it yourself. However, consider the cost of a DIY installation that doesn’t go correctly. When you hire a professional, you’ll likely get a warranty on the window and its installation, something you won’t get when you break a window or damage the window frame yourself.
Tools. The typical toolbox might not be enough to tackle a window replacement project — you’re going to need more than a ruler, screwdriver and a level. If you plan on taking on more DIY projects in the future, investing in things like safety goggles, power drills, crowbars and caulk guns will make this project and others much easier.
Time. When these types of projects are done right, they’re done carefully and take a lot of time. Consider whether you want to devote an entire weekend’s time to replacing your windows, plus any downtime due to weather, faulty materials or other unexpected issues.
Each home and every type of window will have at least a slightly different process for removing and replacing windows, but here are the basics:
Measure your current window. To make sure you buy the right sized window and avoid a messy return and exchange process and delay your project, measure your current window inside its frame.
Remove the old window. This step consists of removing storm windows (if you have one), scoring the area around the window from the inside, removing any siding that might be in the way of the windows exit path, as well as any trim, sills and the frame. Pull away exposed nails and carefully take the window out. Some windows will have multiple pieces, so be sure to refer to manufacturer instructions.
Measure the opening. Measure the new opening in your wall and take note of how big your frame and sill will need to be. If you noticed that moisture found its way into your walls or inside your old frame, there’s a good chance it happened because of poor measurement. Be very careful and deliberate to get the correct calculations.
Look for any moisture or damage. Before you get to putting in your new window, look for any rotted wood and structural damage that your old window may have caused. Contact a professional if you notice weakened wood or other noticeable deterioration.
Frame the opening. Add your new sill and your carefully measured frame to the wall and attach them firmly. The frame will help distribute the weight of your window to your foundation, keeping the structure of your home sound and your windows and walls functional.
Install your new window. Follow the window manufacturer’s instruction and install your new window with the help of a friend. Make sure it’s level, seal the exterior and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions again for information on insulation.
If you’re overwhelmed by the instructions above and don’t feel like you can get the job done yourself, don’t worry — there’s no shame in outsourcing that work to a professional. In fact, a professional installation can save you lots of money in the long run, especially if you’re not confident in your installation skills. Here are some tips for getting your new windows installed by a licensed contractor:
Do your homework. Research window installers in your area and look for testimonials of their work. Online reviews can be very helpful, but ask your family and group of friends if they’d recommend any particular company, too.
Get multiple estimates. When you’re looking for a professional to install your windows, you’ll want to get an estimate for more than just how much it’ll cost. Be sure to ask how long the project should take, too.
Get a warranty. Your installer should offer a warranty or workmanship guarantee on your window should it be installed incorrectly or break soon after installation. When you install a window yourself, you won’t have this kind of protection.
See what other services are offered. Plenty of companies will offer complete window installation as well as finishing — things like re-attaching trim, installing storm windows and more.
After you’ve fixed all the window problems in your home, make sure your insurance policy is giving you the protection you need, too. Talk to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) about getting a customizable homeowners insurance policy that gives you the peace of mind you deserve.