Introduction

Photo: Russell Kaye
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When Maddy Krauss and her husband, Paul Friedberg, first laid eyes on their 1897 Shingle-style home, they fell in love with its handcrafted turn-of-the-century construction, wide front porch, and massive entry-hall staircase. They were also delighted to find that many of the original architectural details were still intact, including wood paneling, exquisite carvings, stained-glass windows, and an ornate cast-bronze fireplace.

The windows were another story. The originals had been swapped out a decade earlier for low-quality sash kits that were drafty, ugly, and completely inappropriate for the graceful Victorian-era home, This Old House TV’s fall 2007 project in Newton, Massachusetts. The solution: Call in TOH general contractor Tom Silva and his crew to install energy-efficient replacements.

Because the existing window frames were sound and square, Tom could use insert replacement units—in this case, Andersen's Woodwright Insert Replacement Windows, vinyl-clad wood units fitted with energy-saving, low-e insulated glass. These fully assembled, ready-to-install windows slip right into the existing openings. When the job was done, the house had beautiful new double-hungs that looked right, worked smoothly, and gave Maddy and Paul one more thing to love about their old house. Here's a look at how Tom made the switch, with tips for choosing and installing replacement windows.
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    Tools List

    • 100-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • flat prybar
      Flat pry bar, used to remove old window stops and jamb liners
    • putty knife
      Putty knife, for applying wood putty
    • caulk gun
      Caulking gun with exterior-grade elastomeric caulk
    • drill
      Cordless drill/driver, used to drill holes and drive screws
    • spade bit
      3/8-inch spade bit, for boring foam-insulation access holes in window frame
    • paint scraper
      Paint scraper, used to scrape loose, blistered paint from window frame
    • utility knife
      Utility knife, used to trim shims flush

    Shopping List

    1. Insert replacement window
    sized slightly smaller than existing window frame

    2. Exterior-grade wood putty
    used to patch holes in window frame

    3. Minimally expanding polyurethane foam
    used to insulate wall around window

    4. Wood shims
    for adjusting the window to sit level and plumb in opening

    5. 100-grit sandpaper
    for smoothing window frame prior to priming and painting 6. 2-inch screws
    used to fasten replacement window to frame

    7. Foam-rubber backer rod
    used to fill 1/4-inch-or-wider gaps prior to caulking

    8. Interior window stops
    needed if the original stops broke during removal

    9. Paintbrush, primer and paint
    for applying fresh finish to window frame