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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-01-2010, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Default Replacement Windows

I have a couple of questions:

1) How easy is it to replace existing windows with new ones?

2) Vinyl or wood - and why/why not?!

Thanks
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-03-2010, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by tbagjohn View Post
I have a couple of questions:

1) How easy is it to replace existing windows with new ones?

2) Vinyl or wood - and why/why not?!

Thanks
Hi John:

I'm in the process of changing several windows in my home, once the snow clears, I'll get on to the next one.

If the windows are exactly the same size +/- ½" it is a simple matter of removing the old (without disturbing the studwall,) and installing the new.

I'm using vinyl on the north side but because of decor problems, I'll probably be using wood on the south side. However, finding robust finishes for wood windows is not easy and can be very expensive. I'm using a variation of spar varnish.

Allthunbs
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-10-2010, 11:00 AM
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Hi John,
Let me preface this by saying that I am employed by a major window manufacturer. That being said, I have been involved in replacing windows for over 30 years and have learned a thing or 2 along the way.
Vinyl & wood, along with fiberglass, aluminum and composite windows all have their pluses and minuses. In addition to that there are different methods to replace windows. the 2 most common ones are, full frame replacement, where everything gets torn out down to the rough stud opening and everything gets replaced including interior and exterior trim. And pocket replacement, where the existing window is gutted but the frame, interior and exterior trim remain. This method is somewhat dependent on what type of windows are existing.
It ultimately boils down to; what features you want in a window, such as ease of cleaning, low maintenance, energy efficiency, aesthetics, etc... How much you are willing to spend. And what you want the finished product to look like.
Out of the 5 types of windows I listed above, my preference is an aluminum clad, wood window. I feel it gives the best of both worlds with a low maintenance exterior and a wood interior.
Ron is correct in that replacing windows is a relatively straightforward process, providing that the new windows are sized correctly. Proper flashing and installation techniques are CRITICAL. Do your research thoroughly, and follow the manufacturer's instructions to a T. Failure to do so will result in a voided warranty and worse, a window that doesn't perform well. Most of the major manufacturers have posted installation instructions on their websites. Take a look at them before you commit to one.
Keep in mind that you may need some specialized equipment such as scaffolding or an aluminum brake. Be sure you have everything you will need on hand before you start. Nothing will get the people you live with madder than big holes in the walls of the house.

Hope this helps,

Tim
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tbagjohn View Post
I have a couple of questions:

1) How easy is it to replace existing windows with new ones?

2) Vinyl or wood - and why/why not?!

Thanks
Hi John,
How easy is it to replace windows?.... That is a loaded question. It is usually easy if you know what you are doing. With that said, most window openings usually need at least some modification for the new window to fit right. But it is pretty straight forward and not a big problem.
I agree with Tim, I prefer aluminum/vinyl clad wood windows as you get the most weather protection on the outside and the nicest looking/paintable/stainable window on the inside.
If you have not changed windows before I would recommended getting a friend with experience to help on the first one.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 04:33 PM
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Tbagjohn,
For what its worth
As Indy points out it is a loaded question much of which depends on the age of the house and the age of the existing windows. The further back you go the less absolutes there are in the grade and or quality of construction. Quite often one can see 2 or more styles of construction on the same floor for the same period. Add alterations over a 20 to 50 yr. period and you end up with Frankenstein's monster. This is what makes remodeling so much fun and allows Magnesium hydroxide to remain a popular aperitif with contractors.

Houses built within the last 30 to 45 are more consistant in structure and form due to the Regional and later National Building Codes.

In general all old style Counter Balanced windows, are more difficult to replace. The Rough Opening can be up to 6" wider and 3" higher than the unit due to the balancers, (16 to 18"L 1-1/2 to 2"W cast iron 8 to 10lbs each). Where CB windows are concerned the standard method for determining ROs by measuring the sash glass and adding the default plug-in fails. These ROs require padding to close the opening down. I always remove the cap and one side to get reliable meas.

Non OSCB windows are much easier to replace, the RO is usually about an 1" wider and higher than the unit dim. So the old can be slipped out and with a few amendments the new one can be slipped back in.

In general hollow core vinyl and aluminum full framed windows have issues they are rarely square and the frames sweat (condensate). Vinyl and aluminum are not good insulators. In the winter they freeze on the inside of the house. I haven't installed either in nearly 10 yrs, but I hear the newer versions are better but not great.

Aluminum and vinyl Insert windows, (remove existing sashes and slide in replacement inserts) these are not perfect must be heavily caulked you can not nail or screw into them so they sort of float in the space confined by the new trim one installs around them. They must have fiberglass insulation gently stuffed between before caulking as an added draft stop and to allow for expansion and contraction. As time passes the caulking dries and cracks and the drafts return.

Regarding Hollow core vinyl and aluminum full frames and insert windows, I would not install them in my own home. I would religate them to garages, sheds, barns and at worst someone elses rental property

Vinyl and aluminum clad wood full frame windows are the best regarding exterior maintenance and insulator quality, however most manufacturers void the warranty if the aluminum clad window is placed within 2 miles of the ocean or any other salt water body.

Electrolysis eats aluminum. Ever see the white pasty dust around aluminum windows and flashing? It also eats the mortar bonds in your fireplace joints causing the lime to leach out of the mortar and run down the brick.

While tilt wash windows appear to be great for washing without ladders, the most common reason for loss of vapor barrier, (loss of vacuum allows moisture between the pans of glass fogging and mildew growth) is the panes getting hammered by wind during the winter, (regardless of whether the house is heated or not) the 2nd most common is torque on the sash during removal and replacement for cleaning. Truly a simpler treatment is to buy or rent a moderate pressure power washer with soap adductor and do the exterior from the ground.

Even though I prefer the look and open area of double hung windows and prefer having storm glass as an extra dead air space, double hung windows lose their air tight ability due to the tilt sash tech and repeated openings and closings and slamming when one or more of a sashes counter balances break. The best for air tight seal are casements but they limit the direction of air in flow.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-31-2010, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by tbagjohn View Post
I have a couple of questions:

1) How easy is it to replace existing windows with new ones?

2) Vinyl or wood - and why/why not?!

Thanks
Very easy to replace if you order the right size. All kidding aside I did my house 6 years ago and had the old Aluminum sliders. Took the sliders out and left the frame and slid in new insert windows. Took me 4 hrs to do all the windows 7 in total.

I went with Vinyl because I do not like to paint. FOr the inside I used a 3/4 drywall return and used MDF to build the window out. Look for my posts and see whatI have done on window trim.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-31-2010, 06:56 PM
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Yea, but you're super-man.. er, carpenter, Dan!

Check out that new high-tech cordless router.. wireless and no recharging required!!
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