Window Installation for Typical Wood Frame Walls

Ready for a fresh new view of the outside world? With a little elbow grease, window installation can give your home a new look, make it more efficient, and make your day a little brighter. It's not as difficult as it might seem at first, either.

While you need to choose the best flashing method for your home's particular design and construction, those with a typical wood frame wall construction system all follow the same basic steps, as you'll see below. Just make sure to meet all local building code requirements.

Measuring the Opening

To get the size of the rough opening, use a measuring tape to measure the left, center, and right sides of the opening to get the width, and the top, middle, and bottom of the window to get the height.

You'll also need to make sure the opening is square. So, use a level on the sill and jambs. Then, measure from corner to corner to see how close the measurements are. If the opening is square, those measurements will be the same.

Shimming and Tacking the Window in Place

Windows can't be mounted solidly into the frame of your home; they need space to expand and contract. Therefore, you'll need to add shims to the window under each corner and vertical mullion in the window. These shims should be solid ply material cut into 3" (75mm) by 4" (100mm) chunks. If you're working with a larger window, you'll notice they require additional shims, but the manufacturer will indicate this.

Now, it's time to life the window into place. Just make sure you consider safety and have enough people to help you. After all, the last thing you want is an emergency room visit, or having to put up with a giant hole in the wall while you wait for yet another replacement window.

Resting the window on the shims, set it into place and lightly tack it down. Then, use a level and your tape measure to ensure it's level and square. To do so, use additional shims along the sides and top of the window.

Once you've gotten that far, install the remaining fasteners in the pre-punched holes in the flange. And while you might be tempted to add extra fasteners, don't do it -- never add more fasteners than you have pre-punched holes for. You should also never nail a window within 6" from the corners and never over compress the flanges. Translation? You'll be adding fasteners every 12" to 16".

Add the Finishing Touches

If you have tightened the window down too far, or if it's out of square or level somewhere, the window will fail to open. So, now is the time to check the installation by opening, closing, locking, and unlocking the window. If you're installing a slider, you'll want to make sure the operating sash lines up at the frame.

Adjusting Casement and Awning Windows

To open these windows, lift the lock handle (on both sides, if it's an awning window) to disengage the multi-point locking system. Then, turn the rotary handle to open the sash.

To close them, turn the rotary handle until the sash is snug against the frame and pull the lock handle downwards (on both sides for awning windows) to engage the multi-point locking system. Once you've engaged the locks, loosen the rotary hardware slightly by backing the handle off 1/8th of a turn.

On occasion, you'll need to remove the insect screens from the windows. To do this, locate the tiny plungers on either side of the screen bar, pull them back, and gently pull it away at an angle, from the side of the window frame. The screen should come loose from the opposite screen channel.

Don't force the screen to bend to get it around the window hardware. Not only is this hard on the screens, but they can get a permanent bend and void the warranty. When you're ready to replace the screens, just do the opposite.

Operating Basement PVC Inswing Awning Windows

To open basement PVC inswing awning windows, also called "hoppers", simply disengage the sash locks on the bottom corners of the sash. Then, gently pull in and up until the hinges reach the resting position. When you're ready to close them, lift the sash from the resting position and slowly lower the sash until it's snug against the bottom and reengage the locks.

When it's time to remove the insect screen, open the sash all the way and use the pull-tabs on either side to pull the screen bar away from the frame. Once it's clear of the screen channel, angle the screen outwards and on an angle if necessary to pull it free. To reinstall them, just do the opposite.

You can also remove the sashes from basement PVC inswing awning windows. To do this, hold the sash on both sides, open the window and lift one of the top corners until it comes free from the hinge. Then, do the same for the other side, doing the opposite to replace the sash when you're ready.

At this point, you're ready to give the window a quick clean. Then, you can sit back in your favourite chair, give yourself a pat on the back, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. And if at any time you're unsure of how to do the installation, remember that you can always contact a professional to help you.