Blog
What You Need to Know When Replacing a Window in an Existing Wall

What You Need to Know When Replacing a Window in an Existing Wall

When it comes to home repair tasks, few options can create a more dramatic change than replacing your home windows. But while many other jobs can be handled with a little bit of elbow grease and a good strategy, replacing a home window requires substantial work and a good deal of technical knowledge.

Because of that, replacing your windows is no easy feat. You’ll want to know what type of window you’ll need, the specific tasks required for replacing the window based on the size of the opening, and what materials it will take to create the right fit for your new window. Here are a few concerns you may want to consider:

What is Your Frame’s Condition?

The condition, or even presence, of the window frame is the first major factor in matching the correct type of window to your replacement job. If you are creating a new window frame, removing a damaged frame, or otherwise tearing the wall down to the studs, consider new construction windows, also called full frame replacement windows. Pocket replacement windows can be used in projects where the window frame is not being replaced, is in good condition and properly leveled.

The size of your window will also play a factor in which type of window you should install. Replacing a window with one that is a similar size will make a pocket replacement window more likely. Still, upgrading your window to a larger size will necessitate taking out the previous frame and creating a new frame to fit your larger window as part of a full frame installation. That means a full frame replacement window will be demanded for the job.

Removing the Old Frame

Selecting a full frame replacement window, as the name infers, typically requires replacing the pre-existing window frame, sashes and screen. This can usually be taken care of with a utility knife, screwdrivers, pry bar, hammer, putty knife and circular saw, depending on your installed window.

To protect your home exterior trim when removing the frame, place a block of wood between the wall material and window, and then use a pry bar to remove the old window trim.

Full Frame Window Options

Two window options can meet your needs when doing a full frame window installation: Nail fin windows and block frame windows.

Nail fin windows are often use in new construction projects, or any job where the walls will be pulled to the frame (studs). These windows feature a thin piece of metal connected to the window itself that goes around the outer edges of the window frame. When affixing the window to a new frame, this nail fin attaches the window directly to the house’s studs and is placed between the interior and exterior of your home.

Applying a nail fin window can be both labor-intensive and may need the construction of a new window frame or removal of siding so the person placing the window can attach the nail fin to the studs. Nail fin windows are easier to install in new construction (for example, when adding a room to your house), as the window is placed before the rest of the wall is built around it. Further, if you are wanting to place a nail fin window to a present wall in a section of the house where a stone or brick exterior would also have to be replaced, the process might not be worth the effort needed.

Block frame windows present an option for projects where nail fin windows would be more cumbersome to add. These windows are built without a nail fin and are designed to sit inside existing window flashing (the section of the window that has material to prevent water from entering into a house’s walls) with minor new construction work. This makes block frame windows a standard replacement for most older homes that currently have a window structure in place or walls with siding or brick exteriors that would otherwise have to be damaged or removed to place a nail fin window.

Using Your Existing Frame

Replacement pocket windows are a little different than full frame replacement windows and are designed to fit inside an existing window frame. While the existing window sashes and exterior stops of the window should be taken out for the new window to be added, pocket replacements allow homeowners to retain the original frame, trim, siding and casing.

Just as with full frame window replacement, the wall exterior around the window opening will determine how the pocket replacement process works, this time with fewer steps. As opposed to full frame replacement window removal, most of the existing sash, hinges and operating hardware will be connected with screws that must be taken out before clearing away the head, jamb and sill stops with a pry-bar. Similar to the full frame replacement window, placing a piece of wood to safeguard your wall exterior when uninstalling the old window is a sensible way to help avoid any unintended damage.

After taking out the existing sashes and inspecting and readying the opening, the replacement window can be set into the opening and existing frame. Remember to plumb, level and square the window at each step of the installation to have the best chance for a proper, balanced fit.

Consult with a Professional Installer

The steps required to replace a window in an existing wall require a clear knowledge of your design ideas and a exact installation of your window. You can review detailed step-by-step installation plans based on both the type of window, as well as the type of window opening, at install.pella.com.

Even with these specific instructions, a number of homeowners find that the possibility of accidental damage to their home (as well as the time, expense and labor demanded) make window installation a project they’d rather not undertake. Working with a professional home window installation expert, like those at Pella of Springfield, brings the technical knowledge and know-how to do the job right.

Wherever you are in your home window replacement job, call a Pella professional today. Even if you are planning on replacing a home window on your own, a window installation pro can help you choose what installation method is correct for your home and discuss installation plans.

Back to Blog
Live Chat
I can help with your window or door replacement questions.