Can You DIY a Window Replacement?

What’s it cost to have your windows replaced?

During the year 2017, a surprising 3.7 million Americans had their home windows replaced. The average cost for a professional replacement rests right around $3, 422. However, that price can go way down if you do the installation yourself!

By completing a DIY window replacement, you can save thousands of dollars. However, if you’re not up for the job, you’ll wind up wasting both your time and money. Before you start a project you can’t complete, let us help you set realistic expectations.

Read on to learn the in’s and out’s or replacing windows by yourself.

DIY Window Replacement Skills

What type of DIY window replacement does your house need? There’s a ton of different types of replacement windows, and some are easier to install than others.

For instance, if you’re installing a single hung window, the process will be easier than installing egress windows. If you’re a handy type of person and you do a lot of home improvement projects already, you should be just fine. 

However, if you doubt your ability to use power tools, you may need a professional to put in your new windows. Next, determine whether or not you have enough time to do the window replacement yourself. If you plan on installing multiple new windows, and you’ve never done it before, it could take you a few days or more.

Watch Out for Lead Paint

If your home was built before 1978, you could have lead paint. While the lead paint is typically harmless sitting under layers of new paint, you could expose yourself to the lead during the window installation process. If you suspect your house has lead paint, reach out to a professional for advice before moving forward.

Window Installation Tools and Materials

What tools and materials will you need to install your new window? Here’s a short but complete list of everything you’ll need:

  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Caulk gun
  • Silicone and latex caulk
  • Roll flashing
  • Foam insulation
  • Safety glasses
  • Tape measure
  • Shop-vac
  • Utility knife
  • 2-Foot level
  • Cordless drill and driver bits
  • Plywood

When you’re buying latex caulk, make sure it’s paintable. 

Remove the Old Window

Before you can put your new energy-efficient window into place, you’ll have to get rid of the old window. Start by removing the old caulk that’s lining the window. To get all of the caulk off, you’ll need to use your utility knife.

Slowly trace along the outside of the old window with your utility knife. Next, go ahead and grab your pry bar. Carefully begin prying out the nails that are supporting the old window.

You can also use a hammer and chisel to help separate the reveal board from the casing. Another alternative is to use a small hacksaw to cut through the nails.

Pull It Out in One Piece

If you have a standard old window, you should be able to pull it out in one piece. However, if you have a double-hung window or a particularly old window, you may have to remove it in pieces. For instance, if you have a double-hung window, you should start by removing the bottom sash. 

Inspect the Rough Opening

The rough opening is the open space you’re left with once you remove the window. It doesn’t matter what type of new window you’re installing, you have to make sure the rough opening is square and level.

Begin measuring all sides of the window, even diagonally from corner to corner. If you have a traditional square sized rough opening, you’d need a total of six measurements.

One measurement for each side of the window, and two measurements for each diagonal distance. When you have all of your measurements, you can order your new window.

While you wait for your new window to arrive, cover up the rough opening with plywood. However, be careful to not damage the sheathing when you put up the plywood.

Install Your Replacement Windows

You’re almost there! Once you have your new windows, you’ll want to measure them to double-check that they’re the right size.

Next, remove anything that’s covering up your rough opening. Get the shop vac, and make sure the window area is nice and clean. Moving on, you’ll need to apply the flashing tape to the window sill.

Once the sill is level, you can apply the silicone caulk around the top, sides, and window sill. Gently place the new window in the opening, pressing it firmly against the caulk. You can use more shims to help secure the window in place while the caulk works its magic.

Drill and Spray

From the inside of your home, start drilling screws into the premade holes along the sides of the window. It’s perfectly okay for the screws to drill through the shims. Next, grab the level and check to make sure that everything is still square and level.

When you’re sure everything’s level, go outside and begin applying the spray foam insulation. Be careful to not overspray, and instead follow the directions on the insulation packaging. Once the insulation is set, you can take measurements to put in the sill adapter.

Finishing Touches

Measure the bottom of the window to the window sill. Next, use your utility knife to cut the sill adapter to make it the perfect width.

Drill two weep holes in the bottom of the sill adapter and lock it into place. The weep holes will help drain rainwater that’s collecting in the window tracks.

Once the sill adapter’s in place you can start installing the exterior trim. Seal the exterior trim around the window frame using finish nails.

You’ll also need to seal the edges of the trim with your paintable latex caulk. Be careful however to not cover up the weep holes. Finally, apply the latex caulk on the interior of the window trim.

Enjoy Your New Windows

While a DIY window replacement can take a little bit of time, you’ll be able to save a ton of money. We hope our step by step guide will inspire you to start replacing any windows you’re not happy with! For more articles like this one, check out the rest of this site.