close up of window replacement installed by contractor

Posted On: November 25, 2020

How To Replace A Window: DIY Window Replacement Guide For 2024

If you’re a homeowner, eventually you’re going to replace a window.

Many homeowners opt to hire a professional, but if you’re an avid DIYer, you’ll need to learn how to replace a window.

There are many reasons you may need to replace a window. Maybe your aging house is super drafty and you want to increase your energy efficiency. Perhaps you’re looking to up the value of your home to sell. Or, maybe you sustained the classic baseball through the window.

Either way, you may feel intimidated by how expensive window replacements can get, especially if you need to replace more than one. Well, have no fear. We’re going to walk you through the steps to install vinyl replacement windows, and how you can do it yourself, or how the pros will do it.

Full-Frame vs Insert Window Replacement

Vinyl windows are commonly used in many houses to replace older wooden frame windows that lack energy efficiency and can become worn down over time. When it comes to replacing the window, you have two options:

vinyl window replaced in window frame in new home

First, if the window frame is in good shape and is a standard size, you can simply install an insert window replacement. However, if the window you are removing is of a custom size or the frame is just not in good shape, you will have to remove it down to the house frame and do a full window replacement including a new frame.

Tools & Materials You Need:

  • Safety Goggles
  • Work Gloves
  • Sound-proof Ear Muffs
  • Dust Mask
  • Drill & Drill Bits
  • Oscillating Blade Set
  • 2+ Foot Level
  • Shop-Vac
  • Silicone/Latex Caulk and Caulking Gun
  • Pry Bar
  • Putty Knife
  • Utility Knife
  • Hammer & Nails
  • Drop Cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Shims
  • Finish Nails
  • Weatherstripping
  • Flashing Tape
  • Window Foam Insulation
  • Wood Filler

How to Replace a Window in 3 Easy Steps

Now that you have your tools ready and your windows selected, it’s time to dive into replacing your windows. Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Measure for Your New Window

northface professionals measure frame before demonstrating how to replace a window

  1. Grab your tape measure and measure both height and width of the inside pocket.
  2. You want to measure all the way to the frame, this might mean opening the window to get the full height measurement.
  3. Grab three measurements for both height and width. You will measure the left, middle, and right for the height and top, middle, and bottom for the width.
  4. Use the smallest measurement for height and width for your window size. You can fill in any gaps in the frame much easier than trimming the window.
  5. Measure a few times and ensure accuracy before you order your window.

Step 2: Removing the Old Window/Frame

  1. Remove the storm windows by lifting them out of their tracks or removing the screws holding them in place.
  2. Using your utility knife, run it along the edges of your window to loosen the seal.
  3. Pry the window out of the frame using a pry bar or your 5-in-1 tool.
  4. Many older windows have spring or sash systems that allow the window to go easily up and down. Springs can easily be removed. For sashes, you will need to cut the rope and left the weight fall into the frame. Attempting to remove the weight could damage the existing frame.
  5. Remove the interior or exterior stop the same way you removed the window, using a utility knife and prying away. The stop you remove will depend on whether you are installing the new window from the inside or outside. They will be replaced once the window is put in place.
  6. Prep the install by filling any holes and ensuring the wood is solid enough to screw into.
  7. Clean up the area so there is a nice blank slate for install. This is where the shop-vac comes in handy.

Step 3: Install The New Window

contractor seals window replacement with strips and caulk

  1. Start with a level window sill. Make any adjustments until it is level. This will ensure a proper fit.
  2. Install flashing tape, which is critical for sealing the window and preventing leaks. Make sure it is flush with the sill.
  3. Fit your new window in the frame to see how it fits. A gap between the window and frame is normal.
  4. Using your silicone caulk, lay a strip, or bead of caulk, about 3/8″ around the edges of where the window will go: the top, the sill, the stops.
  5. Place your new window quickly against the caulk, and secure with shims around the edges. Secure with screws into the frame.
  6. Use your level to make sure the window is level on both the top, bottom, and sides. At this time you can use the shims to adjust it until the entire window is even. Once you know it’s good to go, go ahead and cut the shims that extend out from the window.
  7. Use spray foam insulation to seal around the edges of the window from the outside.
  8. Install a sill adapter and weep holes to allow rainwater to run out.
  9. Install your trim.
  10. Caulk the interior trim to finalize the seal.

When to Get Help on Your Window Replacement

Installing your own window, especially a pocket window replacement, can be done on your own. For the average handyman, with the right tools, measurements, and abilities, there should be no issue. But if you’re taking on larger projects like needing to remove and re-build a window or custom fittings, it’s best to call a professional!

If you happen to be located near Elk River, MN, make sure to contact our team of experienced pros at Northface Construction!


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