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How to Properly Prepare Your Home For Window Replacement

If your windows are old or leaky, replacements can boost beauty and help cut energy costs. But which brands are best?

Window Replacement

This buying guide highlights our top picks for both new construction and Window Replacement Foxboro MA. We also provide tips on installation and other considerations. We’ll cover double-hung and sliding windows and specialty types such as bay, bow, and picture windows.

A window frame is a critical component of the structure that holds glass units in place and provides protection for your home’s interior from harsh weather conditions. If your window is sagging or not closing properly, the underlying cause may be a worn out hinge mechanism that can easily be replaced with new hardware. However, if the sagging or misalignment is due to a loose frame that can no longer support the weight of the glass, replacing the entire window structure is the most effective solution.

The window frame is typically constructed from wood, aluminum or vinyl and can be clad in wood to provide a more natural aesthetic or metal to increase energy efficiency. There is no single best frame material and the type of construction has a significant impact on a window’s performance and lifespan.

There are two basic types of window replacement: full frame replacement or insert windows. Insert windows replace the existing window in a pre-existing opening and are designed to meet or exceed the performance of the original product, while still providing you with more options for your home’s design.

Full frame replacement is a more extensive project that requires the demolition of exterior trim and siding to access the window frame. You will need to purchase a new window that is the same size as the current window and ideally bigger to prevent water or air from seeping through any gaps in the framing. This option is often necessary if your window has rotted or warped, allowing sloping or moisture infiltration.

To frame the new opening, you will need to establish a sill plate and short support studs. The sill plate is a horizontal board that runs between the two jack studs and rests on the bottom/sole plate. To construct the jack studs, you will need to measure from the top of the window header down to the intended vertical position of the stud and mark this length on two two-by-fours. Cut the boards to this dimension and nail them together as a double sill plate.

If you are interested in an industrial or modern style for your home, a steel frame may be the best choice for your window. Steel frames are hard to break, fire-resistant and provide a high level of security for your family. They require a more substantial upfront investment but can last for over 75 years.


For the majority of windows, glass is replaced not because it’s broken but because a new look is desired. Replacement window glass is available in clear, frosted and patterned styles as well as tinted to suit your family’s needs. It can also be ordered in thicknesses from 1/16″ to 1/4″. A glass professional will help you decide what is appropriate for your home’s existing frame and its structure.

Before you begin removing the old pane, wear eye protection and gloves to protect yourself from glass shards. If the window pane is still intact, use a utility knife to remove the glazing compound (putty) and metal glazing points that hold it in place. Then, wiggle the glass out.

If the frame and sash are in good shape, you can install an insert replacement window to maintain the original appearance of your window and improve its energy efficiency. This type of window fits inside the existing frame, replacing the sash and jambs. It isn’t as common as “pocket” replacement windows that require the removal of the sashes and their tracks, but can be an economical alternative.

Most modern windows are insulated, which means they have twin panes of glass separated by an air space. They are sometimes called insulated glass units, or IGUs. These are a popular choice for homeowners because they reduce the cost of heating and cooling, and help keep your home comfortable throughout the year.

To replace a double pane, you’ll need to purchase and cut a new piece of glass to fit the opening, making sure it is a sixteenth of an inch shorter in all directions. You’ll also need to buy a pack of glass points, small fasteners that secure the glass in place. You can buy these at most hardware stores. Alternatively, you can bring your measurements to a local window repair shop or glazing company to have them cut the glass for you.

If your window frames are rotten or damaged, you may need to replace the entire frame. Wood replacement frames are the most durable, but you can also find vinyl and aluminum-clad frames that have the appearance of wood on the outside but are much stronger and more weather-resistant than bare wood.


If you choose to install a replacement window, the first step is to prep the area for installation. Remove any old sash weights and cords, and clean the area where the new window will sit. The next step is to remeasure the pocket opening to make sure your new window fits. It is important to order a window that is about 1/4 in. smaller than the existing frame opening to allow for squareing of the window vertically and horizontally, as well as allowing for proper installation of the sash and hardware.

The type of window you select will determine the type of hardware you need. For example, casement windows open out with a crank mechanism while double-hung windows slide up to open. You can also select from awning windows that open out from the top or sliding windows that open from the side. Whatever style you choose, there are a few common parts and hardware that are necessary for the installation process.

Cam locks are the locking mechanisms used on single and double-hung windows. They are available in a variety of styles, from a simple handle to a keyed entry set. Operators are the handles that operate your window, and they come in two types: single arm or dual arm. They are important for avoiding optional binding and ensuring that your windows open and close smoothly.

You may also need a sill adapter for a replacement window. The sill adapter is placed on the bottom of the sill and helps prevent water from leaking into the home. It is important to install a sill adapter that is made of weather-resistant vinyl, and it should be cut based on the specific measurement of your window. If you need to, you can install a drip cap at the head of the sill to further protect against water leaks.

Depending on the style of window you are installing, you may also need a wood or vinyl replacement insert. These are self-contained units that fit inside the existing window jambs to create a secondary frame. These can be installed in either a full-frame window installation or a retrofit sash window replacement, and they are available in a variety of options, including energy-efficient low-E glass and simulated divided lites.


Before installing your new window, your installer should remove the existing one, and inspect the opening to make sure it’s a good fit. If there are cracks or rot, the crew should repair them. They should also check for a proper air seal and caulking around the perimeter of the window.

After removing the old window, your contractor should vacuum or sweep the area to eliminate dust and debris. They should also remove the sash from the frame and remove any window hardware that’s attached. You can also choose to have the contractors stuff insulation in the sash pockets, which helps maintain energy efficiency.

To install your replacement window, start by placing spacers on the sill and installing a flashing strip. Then affix it to the casing using silicone or two 6d (2-inch) nails per pair of shims (be sure to pre-drill). Next, rest the new window in place, starting from the bottom and working up. Once the window is seated, drive a screw partway through the trim at one of the upper corners. Then, if necessary, adjust the shims or screws and recheck the window for plumb.

If the side jambs of your window aren’t level, open and close the sash to adjust it. Then, run a tape measure diagonally from opposite corners. The measurements should be equal. If they aren’t, loosen the sash and slide wood shims under it until the frame is square.

Next, add shims or foam to the top of the frame to raise it up and apply silicone caulking. They can also use caulking along the bottom of the frame if there is any gap there as well.

When everything’s done, your installation team will clean up the work area and haul away any materials that need to be disposed of. They should also put down cloth to protect the flooring or furniture from dust and debris. They should also ask to review your insurance policy to confirm that they have workers’ compensation and general liability coverage. This is to make sure that you don’t get stuck with any costly damage bills should something happen while they’re working in your home.