Overview

illustration of window parts «»
Replacement Players

Unlike full-frame windows, which are designed for new construction, replacement windows are made to fit into existing window openings. They're available in dozens of standard sizes, from as narrow as 11 ½ inches to as wide as 68 inches, and come in wood, vinyl, fiberglass, vinyl-clad wood, and aluminum-clad wood.

There are three basic types of replacement windows: sash kits, insert replacements, and full-frame units. Sash-replacement kits—what Tom found on the Newton house—give an old window frame new movable parts, including jamb liners and sash. The liners are fastened to the side jambs of the window opening, then the sash are slipped in between. For these to work, the existing window frame must be level and square. An insert replacement window consists of a fully assembled window in a ready-to-install secondary frame. Sometimes called a pocket window, an insert replacement slips into the existing opening and is then fastened to the old side jambs. Because you’re adding new jambs and liners, the glass area will be slightly smaller than it was before.

Full-frame replacement windows are similar to inserts, except that they have a complete frame that includes head jamb, side jambs, and sill. These are the only option when the old window frame, sill, or jambs are rotted. To install these, you must strip the window opening down to its rough framing, inside and out.
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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