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Remodeling Journal


Replacement or Replacing Windows?

What are the differences?

Recently I was asked what is the difference of replacements windows verses replacing a window both in cost and other factors?

Well I'll give you my best on this. First of all, like a stated previously in my journal about replacement windows, as they do not remove your window frame siding or trim generally. They were design as retro fits to existing windows where cost savings could be created by utilizing good existing frames and upgrading just the sash components to the newer better technologies of window manufacturing.

A replacement of an entire window, replacing a window, requires gutting the opening of all window components down to the house frame and sheathing. In most cases this will require careful consideration on window sizing if you want to limit the impact to the siding, however most situations will impact the siding some.

I have on occasion been able to size a window to fit within the exterior trim and siding so that the 908 or other molding fits exactly the same as it did and align the interior molding and trim almost near perfect on the interior, but that depends on circumstances and window manufacturing methods that result in a positive combination of interior and exterior measurements and in some case good fortune. If care is taken on these measurements and the manufacturers design matches well with the old window frame, yes a window can be totally replaced and not disturb the siding or affect the interior paint or wall paper. 

A complete window replacing, is a few hours longer to complete and the adding of exterior and interior trim, as unlike window replacements you are utilizing nothing from the old window. The good advantage here is you will be upgrading the way the window is attached to the house with a complete nail fin which results in a superior seal around the windows contact points to your house. Most older windows are weakly sealed at the sill with no overlapping to the house at that point but a small groove where the siding may or may not be integrated. 

The window measurements, the trim size and the distance the siding is from the windows components are all a crucial part of the ordering of the window size that will  best fit to that opening affecting each variable. If you were to just measure the rough opening and get what the manufacture deducted to make that fit, you may be disappointed at how much work you have created for yourself and be forced to remove siding to attach the nailing fin properly. A good craftsman tries to avoid unnecassary work, by accurately measuring and planning, thus saving you money if he can help it.

Three things are to be considered I think when deciding whether you want Replacement windows or to replace the windows completely.

Cost, with all factor's equal, replacement windows are less expensive and less of an impact to your home with just a small amount of trim removed and then replaced when inserting them. The same high quality window can be bought in either design from most manufacturers, so there is no lose of value, or advantage to be gained at the sash. Dollar for dollar replacement windows are the best value if all other factors are secured.

Sight-lines, with replacement windows you lose a little on your opening sizes because they are a frame within your existing frame. In other word the amount of glass area may be slightly reduced depending on how much space is lost to the window structure compared to what you had previously. It isn't usually much, just about 1/2 inch all around in some cases. 

Need, If your window frames are not worth saving or would take more than $100 or more to repair you may be at the breaking point of were replacing the entire frame and window is better than patching and installing replacements. This has to be weighed against the whole house project. If all your frames are good and only one is bad, then replacements are still a valued choice with the expense of only one window being a loss in the overall project aim.  

I think I would add one more consideration that only weighs in if you are suspicious of how your windows are attached to your house and that is; Energy and weather resistance. A new window, that replaces all your trim both inside and out can be guided to a better mechanical seal than perhaps the original intentions of the builder because of todays better materials and more energy conscious designs that start at where the window is attached to the house. Although in most case a replacement window equals a modern design a complete window replacing can insure the most modern attachment to your houses frame and sheathing insuring the best upgrading to your investment. It will add to the cost to replace windows over replacement windows, but that decision has to take in consideration the three factors I mentioned and which is the best application of those factors to your situation. 

As always, develop a relationship with a trusted professional who can help guide you to the best solution for your budget and desires. 



Replacement windows

    Replacement windows are those windows manufactured to fit inside the existing window frames already in place on your house. They were designed to be custom manufactured so as to facilitate not removing the sturdy affixed part of the window on your house but to replace the movable sashes in all homes without excessive dismantling of what in most cases is a good window frame.

To determine what type of window is right for your application is a matter of style and energy concerns and what is the best value for your house. Available to you will be Vinyl, wood, fiberglass, aluminum and a combination of materials. An example being in the case of wood clad windows, where the exterior is clad with aluminum, urethane or fiberglass, so the sturdy beauty of wood can still be on the interior, while the exterior gets the highest degree of weather protection possible.

All manufactures include Glass properties that can be from simple thermal pane to the highest level of coated glass and thermally efficient gasses that can be locked in-between each pane for superior insulation values. Look for energy star rating, low E and argon filled thermal pane when upgrading your windows. The added levels of insulation to sash members and the new Government mandates for energy efficiency are a good investment considering energy cost are always a major concern.

The energy rating a window earns is a combination of the glass, sash and frame members and how well they prevent air infiltration and resist outside temperature changes. All manufactures can be compared by observing and noting their energy ratings. In general a lower number will mean a higher value to you. Quality of parts and serviceability along with a reputable manufacture that is local to your needs should be considered also.

It is important to note that all manufactures do not use the same components and that the working mechanisms such as locks, balances and gaskets can be of different quality substantially causing differences into the future efficiency of those windows. For instance, block and tackle style balances are superior in durability and function then wound spring or what was called spiral balances which are prone to dysfunction before the life expectancy of the window is achieved. The clock spring like balances that some companies use are also a good alternative and are quite simple to replace if necessary. Double locks and aluminum reinforcement on wide vinyl windows is preferred and double gasketting along all joints and moving parts is also a plus.

The style of windows you choose is nearly as unlimited as what has been on the market for decades with the exception that now windows can be made to withstand far worse weather with far less care. The choice should be in keeping with your homes existing architectural character.

Installation of replacement windows is a simple procedure with some attention to problem spots and details. In older homes the need to remove the storm windows will be necessary, and that is as simple as removing the screws around its perimeter or when they are painted on with many coats of paint, you will need to gently pry them off with a flat bar being careful not to damage the stop or the trim that they are fastened to.

In the interior removal of the old sashes will be methodical. First you should score along any paint edges with a utility knife to avoid breaking off paint chunks un necessarily and remove the side stops that hold in the sashes. In some cases the side stops are part of the window frame as in some modern manufacturers. These can be scored multiple times to be split off with care if needed.

Once the window sash is exposed the method of removal of the spring balances, ropes, weights or friction liners can be determined. In the case of ropes and weights, there will be a little door access 1/3 the way up on either side with a nail or screw keeping it secure. It can be removed and the weights can be removed along with the ropes and pullies. Most other sash springs and liners can be removed with a flat bar and some careful leverage and the removal of screws and nails that hold them in place.

At this point, when the sash is completely removed and all the dividers, parting beads and loose nails have been attended to, you should clean the opening of dirt and loose paint. If the sill needs repairing this is a good time to either replace it or make minor repairs and wrap it with aluminum coil stock. If you are unfamiliar with coil stock and the methods to bend it into place it is perhaps best to leave this to a profession contractor with the proper tools for bending sheet aluminum or vinyl.

Once every thing is determined to be satisfactorily cleaned and corrected it time to install your new replacement windows. On windows that had weights and pullies, there is an extra step where you must fill the cavity where the weights used to hang with insulation. You can stuff fiberglass insulation up from the bottom and struggle to get it tight and complete but I would rather use a small blower and inject blown insulation completely into every void correctly than to struggle attempting a blind stuffing of fiberglass with limited success. If you can't acquire or build a blower to suit your need, then removal of the interior trim will gain you complete access to the weight pockets and they can be filled correctly with attention to details and needs with the assurance that it is done right. 

After this step is complete you can prepare your opening like any other window. Place a bead of calking around the entire interior of the exterior trim where the window will contact. Be neat and steady so clean up will be minimized after installation. Along the bottom place a strip of pipe insulation which is exactly the right width for window installation and will be used at a bout one small rol per window. Determine where the base expander of the new window will rest and add a small bead of calking along the sill at that point also making sure the insulation isn't going to interfere with it.

If the manufactured new replacement window has been measured correctly and the company uses a top expander, make sure you full that expander with a few strips of pipe insulation to keep the wind out. Place the window into the sill first and then as you compress the top expander you will be able to hinge the window into place using the bottom of the exterior trim and the interior sill as your guide.

Once you have forced the window into the calking that surrounds the edges on the outside that you placed there earlier, you can align the window to straightness, within the confines of that frame. When you measure for your new windows you should have allowed 1/4 of an inch clearance on the sides and 1/2 on the overall height to insure an easy fit. Too much clearance and the window will fall through the opening. Too little clearance and you will be struggling and swearing to force the fit and probably damage the windows ease of operation later.

Once the window is placed firmly in the opening, aligned to square and looks good it is time to lock it in place with the screws provided in their correct locations. Next adjust the mid point adjusting shims to keep the window frame from bowing after installation. Shim if necessary. Take pipe insulation and stuff it around the seam between the new window and the old frame and calk that also before closing it in with the side stops. All joints should be calked on the outside (as you did before installation) and all interior seams (as you do after installation).

Once the side stops are returned to their former locations and the calking is all cleaned and neat, the little bit of interior painting can be done around the window edges and side stops. If a careful neat application has been done then clean up should be a breeze.

Tools needed; Drop cloth, flat bars, one small one regular size, a flat screw driver and a Philips head, calking gun, nail puller or plyers for pulling small nails, hammer and utility knife and a trash bag.

A screw gun is handy as is a rag for clean up. A power blower if you need to blow in insulation and a Metal break for bending sheet aluminum if you have that situation where the sill needs to be covered. A ladder for outside reaching per job requirements.

The most important part of this job and in fact most jobs is accurate measuring! Always measure your window opening absolutely accurately being aware of circumstances such as out of square openings. Manufactures take two methods of sizing that are explained as "Tip to Tip " or "Rough opening".

I like to do tip to tip so I get the most accurate measurement for my concerns which means I must subtract the clearances needed to fit the window in. A rough opening measurement is when you give the manufacturer the actual window sash opening and they deduct the needed clearances. Either way it is up to you to insure that the windows fit snug and squarely at the sight, so your efforts must be sure and your solutions and applications enduring as the window life is expected to be 20 years at  least.

May your house be warmed by your expertise and satisfaction be from your skill.

Good luck.






Is Service Magic ?

Is Service Magic?

 Not to a successful company it isn’t. Service is something you create with customer dedication and takes no magic but a desire to include a commitment to quality and value in every aspect of your business or trade.

 It is no secret that reliability, availability, good communications while contacting the customer with the knowledge of products and quality of application methods, are just some of the things it takes to have service that would be considered magic by some.

 A local contractor who has developed his reputation through a customer chain, respecting of his service, is not magic but hard work and dedication to a customer base.

 The service you should be looking for is actually a developed report that a contractor seeks to employ in his business profile and is a reflection of his concern for his customers. No outside company can manufacture what a dedicated professional has developed and earned from his labor built from his companies aims to you.

There will always be secondary advertising companies and methods promising a way to choose contractors. Each of these generic processes will sell you their method as best. Each of these methods includes promises that they can not back up as well as the man who can personally do the job for you.

 If you want true service, true value and true magic service then you must locally hire, locally filter out and research your best contractor values. Otherwise you are welcoming a middleman who is profiting from quantity of clients and not quality of those clients no matter what their claims may be. The ability for nationally advertised businesses to BUY a process and advertise its quality is too easy to manufacture with a slick web design and advertising campaign.

Your local community, your neighbors and your friends are the best way to qualify your tradesman and he knows that. Seeking out your best value isn’t an easy process but that is what makes it most affective and true to your local area. Community connection is your strength and your local government and communication avenues can be a help. Your best local contractors have invested in you and your community personally, developing a trust built by and for you the customer, reflective of your communities input.

Here are some tips; Check out the better business bureau, check out forums on the internet for reviews, check out local resources like the chamber of commerce and your local newspaper. Talk to your neighbors and trust your instincts. Be wary of promises from second party advertising companies paid to create images of security in hiring when you already have that in your community with your control at the touch of a phone dial.

 Like I mentioned service isn’t magic but a shared creation that a company develops along with his happy customers. Gain the trust and develop your connection to your community and experience the difference you can make.


Christmas is coming soon!

Well, I just returned from another night of rehearsal preparing for the Christmas chatter. That noise in the background of holiday music and the bustle of hectic work preparations and closures to insure our customer can enjoy their Christmas without us in their Homes for the holidays. That is what I call the chatter. Mostly pleasant but at this time of season it speeds up and grows into a frenzy of anticipation. A little bit of excitement fills the air not just at work but especially at what we play at.

What I am rehearsing for are Concerts. That is my donation to the Christmas Chatter.

The Merrimack Valley Concert Band, which I am a member of will be giving a Holiday concert at Northern Essex college and my Sax quartet will be roaming streets and town squares here and there.

First on the list of events is the Atkinson country club's great tree lighting held annually at the club house and we play the tunes down stairs in the ball room.

Then Friday evening the Haverhill stroll will listen to us roam the streets and businesses playing Christmas carols and such. After that will be a parade Sunday in Merrimac and the next weekend in Newburyport playing in the square. So you can see I will be a part of that Holiday chatter that sets the tone for shopping and enjoyment for a night out on the town.

We'll rap up a few small and medium sized jobs this next few weeks and put off anything big that will harm anyone's Christmas enjoyment. This year we have a lot to be thankful for and that is something worth chattering about.



What's next

As we sit down to thank our friends, family and clients on this Thanksgiving day our thoughts are with you all. We give thanks for the incredible amount of support we have received in these trying economic times as we strove to maintain quality and cost and above all VALUE to our customers.

As the preparation around here gets hectic and the smell of foods intoxicating aromas permiate the home atmosphere, I look outside to the rainy sky and ponder; What's next!

What is next from now and until Christmas. The greatest Holiday of thanks and warmth. A good question to ponder some other time perhaps as I'm needed in the kitchen.

Will the weather hold, will the economy hold, will you get in here and help...oops excuse me, I'm needed.

What matters right now is that I get ready for now, Thanksgiving, the pilgrims gift to us all. A day of warmth and cheer a day to remember the good we did and the friends we spent it with and a time to celebrate family.  

Right now, it is time to stoke the fire, fill a cup with hot coffee, add myself to the buzz of preparation and enjoy the moment of hustle and talk that lends itself to good cheer and the day we call Thanksgiving.

Have a great Holiday and remember to truly eat and live well giving thanks for the splender of it all. 

Focus on success, and yule be blessed

while learning to succeed , providing the family needs.