Home Replacement Windows – Ready to Install Them Yourself?

This is about home replacement windows. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but replace those broken and damaged windows with something more efficient. Vinyl double hung windows might be the answer.

The different manufactures will custom build you anything you specify to meet your requirements. However, remember the home replacement windows are not at the store waiting for you to pick them the same day.

Typical delivery times range from three weeks to several months. Always include this delay time in your job completion schedule.

We bought a house several years ago that we used as rental property. The house was built in 1958. It was a single story brick house with three bedrooms and one bath. The overall condition of the house was poor, but not that bad.

window needs repair Most of the windows had to be replaced as they were old wooden ones and most of them had broken glass and/or frames. This is a relatively simple task with the biggest problem being the delay in getting the new windows. The picture to the right shows an outside frame that needs repair.

The old windows were single hung, which means that only the bottom sash moves up and down. They were wood windows with a single layer of glass. The frames were between excellent and rotten and/or missing. So, we changed out all of the windows.

Before you read any further on how to replace your windows. Click here to read about energy efficient windows. I’ll join you back here in a few moments to continue.

JUST A NOTE BEFORE WE GET STARTED: If you have any damaged window frames, NOT THE FRAME HOLDING THE GLASS, repair the damage before removing and replacing the windows as we did in the picture below.



The first thing to do is measure to determine exactly what size you will need.

  • To do this you should remove the inside trim piece with a pry bar. Try not to damage the trim piece as you will need to reuse it. Do not remove the outside framing around the window. Click on the picture below to see what I mean.

The inside molding is a piece of trim that looks like shoe molding or quarter round. It is directly in front of the window tracks next to the frame. If this comes out easily, the job is going to be really simple.

  • Take a large framing square and place at every corner and make sure the window frame is square. If it is not square, correct the problem.
  • Now measure the distance across at the bottom, the middle and the top. Hopefully all the measurements are the same. If not, the new windows may not fit.
  • Measure the distance from the top to the bottom on both sides. Hopefully these are the same.
  • Measure all the windows, no guess work here because they can be different. I like to write on the frames behind the molding I removed what those measurements were, as well as a number I assigned when I measured them. For example, 1,2,3, etc. This makes the replacement easier to identify from the pile.
  • It’s time to go shopping. Take your measurements to suppliers and look at the different types of home replacement windows and the different price ranges.

Replacement windows in this area, which is Middle Tennessee, are usually vinyl double hung (both sashes go up and down) the windows are double glazed (2 layers of glass) for insulation. There may be others available depending on the area you are in.

They also offer solar block and grid inserts to make the home replacement window appear to have smaller pieces of glass. Most of these offer tilt in sashes for ease of cleaning. Some come with or without screens. Look at the style typical for your neighborhood.

Make sure the windows you receive are NOT new construction. Note the flange in the picture to the right below.

  • When your home replacement windows arrive, take your measurements and verify that the windows are the correct size. Write the number you assigned them when you measured them the first time on the side of the frame. For example, 1,2,3, etc.They will come in shrink wrap plastic. Be careful not to damage anything. After they are delivered, stand them upright in a safe place for storage until you are ready for them.
  • To do the installation, take the home replacement windows from the area you stored them in and set next to the window you are replacing.
  • Re-measure again just to make sure this is the correct window. Once you rip the old window out, there is no going back. Lets get it right the first time.


  • Starting with one of the original windows, remove the screen. Make sure you are wearing heavy duty leather gloves to keep you from getting cut.
  • Raise the lower sash to the top position.
  • Grab the aluminum tracks and bend toward the middle. At this point, the windows should start falling down.
  • Pull the unit out without breaking the glass and safely remove the window. At this point you should be looking at a big opening.
  • Place the vinyl channel on top of the first of your home replacement windows and push it down. Some windows come with sponge rubber or some type of insulation. Make sure it is in place.
  • Clean out the opening making sure there is nothing to stop the replacement from seating squarely in the opening.
  • Test fit the first of your home replacement windows. If it fits OK, remove the new window. Remember to test fit every window.
  • Apply caulking to the outside corner where the new window will be placed on all four sides. Be liberal as we want the caulking to squeeze out to the edge and seal everything.
  • Place the new window in the opening and press tightly against the outside edge.
  • Raise the top piece of the vinyl window frame to press against the top of the opening. Click on the picture below.
  • Place four screws into the sides and secure to the frame. Use shims if necessary. Go outside and check to ensure the first of your home replacement windows is pressed against the outside edge, If there is any caulking visible, press it back into the edge with your finger.
  • Go back inside and place caulk into the inside corner and then replace the inside molding you removed as you were measuring the windows. This is why you kept it.
  • Place additional caulking around the inside edges and the outside edges to ensure there are no air leaks.

NOTE: You should never use caulking to fill a gap of more than 1/8 inch.

There is another step that some people do, which is wrapping the exterior window frames. Wrapping is the placement of aluminum to cover the exterior wooden frames. Why do this, you ask? This reduces any future maintenance of the wooden window frame.

Make sure what ever you wrap does not just cover up damage. Repair any damaged area prior to wrapping. Then, caulk and paint all surfaces to ensure a long life for the new windows.

If you decide to wrap the exterior frames, do that AFTER the windows have been installed.

At this point you can go on to the next window. After the first window, it will get easier to replace the rest of the windows. An average house can be completed in just one day. If there is any painting required to the window frames, it may take a little longer.

Dave Altman

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