How to Install Replacement Windows

Marshall McCauley | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

If you want to remodel your home in hopes of improving its overall energy efficiency, or simply to increase your home's curb appeal, then you may want to consider purchasing new windows for your home. The crisp looking frames of new windows can give even the most dilapidated home a much needed face lift, not to mention that many types of energy-efficient windows can help reduce heat loss from your home, which can actually save you money by decreasing your home's energy consumption.

Getting started: window installation

Installing new windows in your house can be a straightforward home improvement project. With the right tools and some detailed installation instructions from the window manufacturer, an experienced home remodeler should be able to successfully complete the job. When installing your new windows, you are going to need the following tools and supplies:

  1. Hammer
  2. Nails
  3. Level
  4. Exterior-grade silicone caulk
  5. Can of foam insulation
  6. Weatherproof flashing tape

In most cases, you'll also need someone to help you lift and position the windows in place during the installation process.

When ordering your new windows, you will need to know the length and width of each window opening. You can order replacement windows from a window showroom or a home improvement warehouse, where you can also consult a window salesperson about the various types, styles, and options that are available in your budgeted price range.

Do you have the DIY skills to install replacement windows?

Most replacement windows have a nailing fin around the frame's perimeter that is nailed flush to a home's exterior sheathing and secures the window in place. After laying a bead of caulking around the underside of the entire nailing fin, you should install the window from the outside, centering it in the window opening. Each window should sit level, but keep in mind that you may need to shim a window to level it before nailing it into place.

Once the window is level and centered within the opening, you can set the nails through the holes in the nailing fin as detailed in the manufacturer's installation instructions. You should then cover the entire nailing fin with exterior flashing tape, which helps create a weatherproof seal around the window. On the interior side of the window, you need to fill the gaps around each window frame with a low-expanding foam insulation, which helps reduce heat loss.

Replacement windows are a big investment for your home, and they should be installed correctly in order to perform as designed and be warrantied by the window supplier. If you think this job is better left to the pros, then you can hire a window installer to do the work for you.