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How to Install Windows & Doors

Installing new doors and windows in your home will not only increase its value, it can also reduce energy costs significantly. Tackling these projects yourself can save you a bundle in labor costs; and since doors and windows are available in various sizes and materials, you can usually find “direct swap” replacements for quicker, easier DIY installation.

What to Buy?

Window kits are usually available in several different types; namely, full frame, insert replacement, and sash kits. For this project we will be installing a pocket window kit which is an insert replacement style window. For doors, you can either purchase a pre-hung kit or a new core. New cores are best for replacing doors that weren’t initially aligned correctly and require custom measurements to be hung square. Pre-hung kits come ready to install and are perfect for replacing standard exterior doors that need no custom mounting to work properly.

Pre-Hung Exterior Door Installation

Removing the Old Exterior Door

To remove the door, first you need to pull the hinge pins located on the top and bottom of the door. The pins can be lifted out of the hinge using a flat head screw driver and a hammer. If the pins are stubborn, spray some lubricant on the hinge and tap the screwdriver to help dislodge them.

Next, you need t remove the hinges from the jamb using a drill with a phillips bit. To remove the old door frame, use a razor knife to score the calking. Insert a pry bar in between the molding and brick or siding to break the seal. Now you should be able to pry off the jamb and framing. Clean the area and remove any excess caulking.

Installing Your New Exterior Door

Start off by measuring the dimensions for your new door. Remember, the rough opening should be about one inch wider and taller to accommodate for a pre-hung door. Next, mock up the new door while it is still in its package framing. Check for level and shim the lower side jamb if needed. Remove the door and make plumb lines to serve as a guide during molding installation.

On the bottom of the old door opening, lay a thick bead of caulking along the sub-seal. Positioning the bottom of the new door first, set the new door in place. Install the new door using cement or casing nails. Now it’s time to remove the shipping seal and make sure the door opens and closes freely. Next, attach the anchored screws supplied with your new door kit to secure the door in place.

Seal and insulate the door by running a bead of caulk around the entire door. Between the door frame openings, install fiberglass insulation. Now you can install the trim using finishing nails.

New Window Installation

Removing Your Existing Windows

First, measure the length and width of you old windows to determine the size window needed. Check to make sure that the window frame is level and square; keep in mind a ¼” off here or there is common.

Next, remove the sash by unscrewing or prying off the interior stops. If you are reusing the stops, be extremely careful when prying them away. Press the jamb liners and pull the sash toward you, pivoting one side upward as you pull.

New Window Installation

Now, your framing should be visible, clean the area and fill any holes or cracks with wood putty. Sand the area smooth once the putty is dry. If your sash weights are still in place, now is the perfect time to remove the weight access panel and put new insulation inside the gaps.

Next, use a thick bead of caulk around the exposed inner-face of the exterior window casing and window sill. Now, set the new window in place starting with the bottom first. Install a 2 inch screw in place through the upper-side jam. This screw should be loose enough to allow the window to open and close freely.

Next, check to make sure the new window is level and square. Shim under the under the sill behind the jambs where necessary. Now screw the window in place using the screws provided in your window kit. Remove the 2” screw you used to hold the window in place during shimming. Fill any gaps around the window with caulking; if the gaps are over ¼”, use rubber sealing strips to close the gap first. Replace the stops and prime and paint as necessary.