Tips on replacing parts or a whole window
Any window can be replaced, but the new window will have to fit the existing rough opening. Custom made wood or wood with vinyl or aluminum cladding will be more expensive than stock windows. Check with local suppliers to see if they have stock windows that will fit your existing openings.
Because of costs, the less expensive but serviceable vinyl double-hung windows are the number one choice for replacement windows. Hundreds of companies small and large make vinyl windows in all styles to fit whatever opening you have.
In judging a vinyl replacement window, the key thing to look at is a cross section of the extruded vinyl the company uses to make the window sash. You will see that the interior is honeycombed, with a network of hollow areas and webs. The more webs, the stronger the sash will be.
A total window replacement is not always necessary to upgrade your windows. You can add one or more of the following vinyl elements to your double-hung windows regardless of what the original window was made of.
- Vinyl track inserts: If your existing double-hung windows are difficult to move up and down, new vinyl tracks on each side of the existing window sashes may be the answer. The existing windows are removed and the vinyl tracks installed on each side. The tracks contain built-in counterweight springs to hold the window open. The windows must be trimmed to fit, however, so ask the company that sells the vinyl replacement parts if they will trim the windows.
- New sashes and vinyl tracks: If your existing window sashes are too far gone, you can replace the sashes and install new vinyl tracks at the same time. The new window sashes may be all vinyl or may be wood windows that fit the existing openings. The glass is normally double pane. Another advantage is that the double-hung windows readily snap out of the vinyl tracks for easy cleaning.
- Vinyl inserts: With these windows, the new vinyl sashes are contained in a single vinyl unit that fits within the existing window frame and trim. They are a common choice when both window sashes are in poor condition. The advantage is that they can be fairly easily installed without having to remove interior or exterior trim. The drawback is that they are obviously vinyl replacement windows that don’t match other windows in the house.
- New window unit: This option is a large job because both interior and exterior trim must be removed and then replaced after the new window unit is installed. The new unit can be the material of your choice, including wood, if you find stock sizes that fit your rough opening. Vinyl is a popular choice because it can be readily fabricated to fit any opening.
Other options if needed though include sash replacements, sash-and-frame replacements, and frame replacements. Sash replacements are useful when the window frame has no water damage, and the opening is still in good condition. Sash replacements are installed by removing the old sash and installing new jamb liners. Sash-and-frame replacements are installed when the original windowsill has water damage, or if there is an air leak between the sash and frame. Frame replacements occur when the frame has been damaged beyond repair for the other two options to work, and the materials to choose from to replace it include vinyl, fiberglass, wood and aluminum-clad.
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