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Learn how to install California Vinyl retrofit windows and doors
Learn how to install California Vinyl retrofit windows and doors

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Removing your old wood double hung windows


Last week I told you how to measure your wood window openings to properly order your new vinyl replacement windows. This week I'm going to explain how to remove your old windows. The vast majority of wood sash double hung windows in America have the same specifications. Starting from inside the house and working out, you have a wood stop approximately 3/8" X 3/8". Then comes the lower sash (the sash is the piece of glass and surrounding wood frame). Then you have another wood stop (called a parting bead) between the lower sash and upper sash. This stop is approx. 1/4" X 1/2". Then you have the upper sash, and finally, the outside wood stop (called a blind stop) that is approx. 1/2" X 3/4".


Before beginning, be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves. The safety glasses will protect your eyes from debris, and the gloves help avoid splinters. The inside stop needs to be removed first. Try not to damage these,they will be re-installed after the replacement windows are put in. If you should happen to crack the old stops, you can take a piece to a hardware store or molding store to get replacement wood stops. If the stops have been painted to blend into the surrounding trim or wall, you need to put a flat screwdriver or putty knife into the indented area that separates the stop from the surrounding area. Drag the blade from top to bottom to chip away the paint. Then put a stiff blade putty knife into this seam and pry the stop away from the frame. Start in the middle of the stop where there is the most flexibility. Work the putty knife from the middle to the top, then from the middle to the bottom. The number of nails that were used to install the stop will determine how difficult removal will be. I have seen some stops that have just 3 nails, while others have had 6. Most of the time there will be stops around all four sides of the opening, but i have seen some openings that didn't have a top stop, and others that had no bottom stop.


After the inside stops have been removed, you should be able to pull the lower sash out. If the windows were painted shut at some time, you might have to pry the area where the lock is located to separate the sashes. Now, once you get the lower sash out, it will still be attached to the cords that hold the window up when you raise it. Take a pair of tin snips and cut the cords while maintaining tension on them. The cords will recoil back into the assemblies. Take the lower sash and set it aside.


Next, we need to remove the middle stop, or parting bead. This piece is going to be thrown away, so you don't have to be careful when removing this piece. The parting bead will be on top and along both sides. It's never on the bottom. Take a screwdriver and tap it into the groove between the side frame and parting bead. Pry out. The bead is nailed into a recessed groove. When all of the parting bead is out, the upper sash will come out. If it's painted to the outside stop, CAREFULLY pry the sash from the outside stop with a stiff putty knife. You want to avoid damaging the outside stop. Remove the upper sash the same way you did the lower sash, cutting the cords under tension.


At this point, you should have the inside stops removed and set aside to be installed later, both sashes removed, the middle stop or parting bead removed and discarded, and the outside blind stop left in place undisturbed. Check to make sure there are no obstructions in the opening such as nails,the metal tab at the bottom for holding in the old screen, etc. The final step is to take a stiff putty knife and scrape the inside face of the outside blind stops to get rid of any old caulking. This is the surface that the replacement windows are going to rest against, and we are going to want this area as smooth as possible. Clean up all loose debris from the opening, and you are now ready to install your replacement windows. That will be our topic for a future article.
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MEASURING FOR YOUR VINYL REPLACEMENT WINDOWS



Let's say you're tired of those old wood windows and you decide it's time to upgrade to vinyl replacement windows. You get 2 or 3 contractors to come out and give you an estimate. After they leave, you can't believe windows can cost so much. I mean, having to get financing to replace your windows just doesn't seem right. Let me explain to you why the windows are so expensive. You have to pay the salary of the salesman who comes over to give you your "free" estimate. Then, you have to pay the salary of the installers. Finally, you have to pay the owner of the company. In some cases there is a broker who acts as a middleman, and he or she gets a cut too. No wonder you need financing! Now, imagine if you already knew how to shop for windows, how to measure for new windows, how to remove the old windows, and how to install the new windows. You just eliminated everybody except the owner. All of a sudden you can afford to replace your windows without taking out a loan! The next few articles are going to cover this process. This article is going to discuss the proper way to measure for your double hung replacement windows.

It's important to properly measure for your windows. If you order them too small, you're going to end up having to improvise in order to get them to work. Even if you do get them to work, you're probably going to have problems. And if you order them too big, you're really in trouble. Chances are you will be ordering more windows. So, measuring is very important. Fortunately, it's also very simple. We are dealing with old double hung wood windows here, so if that doesn't apply to you, don't worry. Future articles will discuss other types of windows. In the case of the wood sash windows, you want to measure the width first and height second. When you go shopping for windows, always give the dimensions as WIDTH X HEIGHT. To measure your width, you want to pull a tape measure from the top right corner to the top left corner. Put the tape measure in that 1 1/2" pocket where the window frame slides. Measure to the sixteenth of an inch. Do the same thing at about the midway point,right above where the window locks. Then, raise the bottom sash and take the same measurement at the bottom. If you can't raise the window for whatever reason, go outside and measure from there. You will have to remove the screen though.

The majority of the time all three of those measurements will be the same. If they're not the same, use the SMALLEST measurement. Now subtract 1/4" from that measurement. This is your width for the new window. The height is a bit tricky. If your window sill outside slopes downward for water drainage, you have to make sure that you measure from the HIGHEST Point of the sill. You want to measure from the top right corner to the bottom right corner. Put your tape at the top where the upper sash closes. If the bottom has a 5/8" high inside wood sill piece to prevent water from coming inside, you need to raise the bottom sash and run the tape past the 5/8" sill and down to the high point of the sloped sill. Do this in the middle and on the left. Once again, take the smallest measurement, but this time deduct 3/16". This is your height. If you order your windows using these dimensions, they will fit right in and leave just enough room to adjust if needed. The final step is to measure the depth of the pocket where both sashes slide. By depth, I mean from the point outside where the top sash rests against the outside wood stop to the point inside where the inside bottom sash rests against the inside stop. This measurement should be between 3 1/4"- 3 1/2". The reason you need to know this dimension is because not all replacement windows have a 3 1/4" depth frame. You want a replacement window that's going to fit right into the existing pocket of the wood frame. If you purchase a window with a 2 5/8" frame depth, you're going to have approximately 3/4" to fill. That means buying new wood stops for the inside of the house that are 3/4" wider than the existing stops. Get the 3 1/4" frames and save yourself a lot of extra work. Now, if you're on a really tight budget, the lower grade windows will be the 2 5/8" frame, and you will have to get the wider trim. But that's something you should weigh in your mind, whether the money saved on the lesser grade window is worth the extra expense and time of installing new stops around the inside of all your windows.

So, now you have the measurements and it's time to go shopping. What should you look for to know you're getting quality windows? A top quality double hung replacement window will have tilt-in sashes that allow you to clean the outside glass from inside the home. All double hung windows have a mechanism that keeps the window in the open position. The better windows use a state of the art mechanism known as a constant force balance coil. All replacement windows will have double glazing, meaning there will be two panes of glass in each sash separated by a 1/2"-5/8" spacer material around the edge of the unit. A quality window will use an intercept spacer or something called a super spacer. Find out the U-Value of the window. The lower the number, the better insulating properties. You want a window with a U-Value under .40. There is a special glass called LowE that will lower that U-Value number. In fact, most quality windows include LowE as standard. Those are the main things to ask about when window shopping.

On the opposite end of the quality spectrum, you can buy an economical replacement window that will not have the tilt-in feature.The mechanism that holds the window open will consist of a block and tackle assembly made up of a spring and string. Another mechanism in lower quality windows is called a spiral tube balance. These lesser grade assemblies are notorious for failing after 5-10 years. The spacer material used on lower quality windows will be aluminum or something called swiggle seal. And many times the U-Value of these lower grade windows will be up around .50. The thing to remember is that a window that uses a super spacer more than likely isnt going to use a block and tackle balance system. It would be like buying a new car with leather interior and no power window and door locks. Follow those guidelines and you will have a good idea what quality you are buying. Once you make the decision and purchase your windows, it's time to get them home and take out your old windows. Next week I will tell you how to remove the old wood windows.

I have been in the vinyl replacement window business for more than 30 years. To learn more, visit http://www.how-to-install-windows.com
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This is the Ply Gem Pro 200 vinyl replacement sliding window
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Cover the exterior wood trim with vinyl angle trim
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Cover your old wood window sills with our vinyl window sill cover.
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