You need new windows. You did your research and you've picked out the perfect windows for your home. You’re not quite sure what you’re getting yourself into, but you’ve decided you want to install the windows yourself.
Well, there are some things you should take into consideration before installing those perfect windows. Pay close attention, because it's definitely something you want to get right on the first try!
Installing a Window In an Existing Wall
Installing a window isn’t the hardest DIY project you could do, but it’s also not the easiest. There are a number of steps in the process, which is why we created this step-by-step tutorial with Amy Matthews. But before you get started, ask yourself a couple important questions:
Do you have the experience necessary?
If you've never installed a window, you'll want to keep in mind that this project requires some carpentry skills. However, there are plenty of videos and how-to articles available online to guide you through the process. If you have a friend that knows carpentry or is a seasoned home improvement DIYer, you may want to ask them for guidance if you need it. But if you find yourself in over your head once you get into the project, don’t be afraid to call a professional.
Do you have the right tools?
If you’re a newbie to DIY, you may have to invest in not only a window, but the right tools for the job. If you’ve done any home improvement projects in the past, you probably have most of the tools you need. Some of the required tools include:
- Safety Glasses (never attempt a home improvement project without them!)
- Utility Knife
- Caulk Gun
- Pry Bar
- Waterproof Shims
- Tape Measure
- Power Drill
- Hammer and Screwdriver
- Putty Knife
If you have already purchased your window, check the instructions for any brand-specific tool requirements before you get started. It’s a good idea to gather all your tools and supplies together before you get started so you don’t have to stop and grab something in the middle of installing a window.
And don’t forget, you can find many of these tools at one of our Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations!
Make Time for the Project
This one is key. Depending on how many windows you have to install (and what type of window), this project could take an entire day or several days. If this is your first window installation, or your first home improvement project, it will take even longer. Make sure you have enough time to complete the project. If you have several windows to replace, you may want to break the project up and do a few windows at a time.
Double Check Measurements
Double check the measurements of the new window and the rough opening to ensure that everything is correct. Once you have the window installed, use a tape measure to square off the window opening.
Insulate the Window Properly
If you’ve purchased specific windows for their energy efficiency rating, that rating will mean nothing if the window isn’t properly insulated. After you put the window in, there should be a little bit of space for shims and insulation. You can use batt (fiberglass) insulation or foam, but foam tends to expand to fill the space creating a seal that batt insulation can’t. Batt insulation also has a tendency to absorb water, whereas foam does not.
Replace the Trim
While you can use trim from the old window, it’s best to replace it with new trim. Old trim with a new window can look out of place and be difficult to seal properly. The old trim can also be damaged during installation, meaning you’ll have to replace it anyway.
Install Your Window While Doing Some Good
Planning a new DIY home improvement project or just need some inspiration? Stop by the Twin Cities Habitat ReStore! We have everything you need for your next project.
As always, the ReStore’s goal is to continue supporting Habitat for Humanity’s mission to eliminate poverty housing from the Twin Cities and to make decent, affordable shelter for all people a matter of conscience.