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DIY Window Replacement Install: Save Money And Improve Your Home

Norm Abram enters his shop and knocks out a project in an hour that would us five months to complete. He’s got the special tools for creating biscuit and mortise & tenon joints. Seemingly he has every tool for every job imaginable. Ol’ Norm seems to make the average do-it-yourself project seem like child’s play.

What if I told you Norm Abram’s status could be approached with a sizeable project which could save you a boatload of money? No special tools are necessary! You’d be ready to grab your tools and get started, wouldn’t you?

Get ready, I’m going to show you exactly how to install beautiful, brand new windows.

Installing replacement windows yourself saves you money in two ways. First, and most obviously, you are doing the installation so it only costs you your time. Paying a contractor to do this would jack up the price by at least $100 per window. Second, you’ll be saving on your heating and cooling costs by installing newer, more efficient windows.

And I don’t need to tell you that you’ll increase the value of your home.

Replacing your old windows with vinyl replacement ones can sound daunting, especially since it involves opening up large portions of the sides of your home. I know– I’ve been there. But once I got started with it, I realized it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined.

If you have average carpentry skills, you can do this. You don’t need Bob and Norm…we have you covered.

What You Will Need


Caulk gun

Pry bar

Putty knife

Utility knife

Screwdriver/drill with tip


Caulk / expanding insulation

Fiber insulation

What to Do First: Measure

Measure the width of the window opening first. That’s from jam to jam allowing for the jam liners if the existing window has them. You can do that by measuring to the stop bead.

Measure the width once again halfway up the window to allow for any bowing of the frame and then measure across the top as well for consistency. You will want to use the smallest measurement when you buy your window.

Measuring vertically, you want to measure at the highest point of the sill on the innermost edge of the stool. Measure that on the left and the right once again for consistency, using the smallest measurement as you did with the width.

Order the new window

Drop by your local home improvement store to see if your windows are a size that’s on the shelf and ready to go. If you have an older home or have custom size windows, you must order them. No big deal just bring those measurements with you to the store and share them with the clerk in the window department.

They’ll ask if you want new construction windows or replacement windows. You will want replacement windows. You can then choose the style and efficiency ratings for your new windows. The higher the quality and efficiency rating, the higher the price per window.

Once you have all the tools, supplies, and windows on hand, it’s time to move on to the fun part.

Remove interior window

Remove the old sash. Use a utility knife to cut the paint where it meets the stop bead to make it easier to remove the trim.

Use a wide putty knife between the stop and trim and pry it off carefully so you can use it after you install the new window.

Remove the parting bead in the middle of the top of the jam, should pull right down with a pair of pliers

Use your putty knife to put behind the jam liner and pop out the staples. Then grab the sash and pull it out near the top, the bottom should follow.

Remove storm windows if you have any. They should remove easily with a screwdriver from the exterior.

Insulate as Necessary

In older homes, there may be a sash cord that will lead you to the weight cavity. Open the weight cavity access panels in the jam and remove the weights. Remove the pulleys if they will impede the placement of a new window. Use fiberglass insulation to fill the weight cavity.

Insulation should fill the cavity but be sure to avoid jamming it in there.

Install New Window

Caulk the edges of the face frame with a flexible caulk to make a seal between the window and old face frame… so it can expand and contract as the weather changes.

Use expanding foam or caulk along the windowsill just prior to window installation and inside the expander at the top of the window. This will provide an additional layer of insulation.

Lift the new window onto the sill, bottom first. Slide the bottom until it hits the face frame and then slowly stand the window up and press it into place fully against the face frame.

Use shims to ensure the window is square, then proceed with tightening.

Use the 2” stainless steel screws that come with your window to secure it in place through the pre-drilled holes in either side of the sash.

Caulk around the perimeter of the window before putting the window stop bead back on.

That’s a Wrap

Sometimes a fresh coat of paint along the trim and stop beads may be necessary to blend everything together.

Now you’ve saved money on the installation, and the savings will continue for years to come with your new, highly efficient replacement windows.

For other home efficiency techniques that can increase your HVAC savings, check out our blog on How You Can Save Money With Heating Costs This Fall.

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