Window Installation: the Process

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Any home renovation project comes with a process for the contractor to follow and that should lead to a successful conclusion for the project whatever it may be. Updating old engineering to support an addition to the house – meaning re-enforcing of joists to support the weight from lower upper floors or updating old technology that supported insulation goals or design goals – a process unfolds for the contractor to follow.

When you purchase new windows for your home, there is a process that comes with it and in practical terms, it means the 'how' the windows will be installed. When you contract AM Windows and Doors Solutions for your replacement windows we start the process off with a brief consultation before we get on to the work.

The first order of business is measurements for the windows that need to be replaced. In some homes the, the windows are of standard size and that makes our work much easier as we know the template of the window opening and we have our supplier make the windows based on that size.

But, very seldom is it that easy. Many homes have custom-sized windows – from old construction or in some homes whatever size window was available or affordable was installed with the opening for the window set to match it.

Once we have the sizes for the windows roughed out to the point where we can order them from the factory with the specifications to fit the opening where the window will go, the process begins with the sizing of your windows.

After the windows have been manufactured, the windows need to be installed. But first, the old windows must be removed from the opening. That is accomplished with a little reverse engineering. What that means is the window frame will be taken apart. The ledges or that surround the window will be removed inside and out exposing the window in the frame. The old shims will be removed and at that point, the opening will be ready for the new window to be installed.

The window will be dry fitted to the opening first to make sure that the size is accurate and it is centred in the opening. When the installer is confident that the window is the right size and is in the right position, he will begin the process of securing the window to the frame.

With the window in position, the installer will start a process called shimming and fastening. Windows are designed not to be a perfect fit – the frame and window will have some space between them to keep the window from being wedged into place.

Depending on window size and dimension or style of window, shims will be inserted 16” apart on the sill and 24” apart on the jamb. This creates a tight fit to hold the window in place before the hardware is installed to affix the window permanently to the jamb. 

When affixing the window the jamb it must be done at the shim points with a round head, rust protected, screws to hold the window in place. When driving the fasteners into the window and through to the shim make sure that the fastener doesn’t penetrate the sill as will compromise drainage and allow water to enter the sill area. If water is allowed to enter the frame area rot will be the result as the water will soak the wood around the window.

As the process is progressing, make a quick check of the unit operation before applying interior trim, exterior brick or siding. The last thing to look for is consistent clearance between the sash and the frame before moving forward.

To keep water from penetrating the window from the outside, flashing or brickmould be installed around the outer edge of the window. Where the flashing or brickmould meets the siding or masonry finish a seam is created and that seam needs to be caulked to create an air and water seal to keep water and draughts from penetrating the seal. An exterior grade of caulking will ensure that the seam or any voids present will be sealed from weather events that will occur over the lifespan of the window.

The next step is in the exterior work requires the installation of a drip cap, and this flashing is by far one of the most important elements of a windows installation. The drip cap is an umbrella for a window because it sheds rainwater or run-off from winter snow and ice away from the window. To achieve maximum effect, the drip cap must be extended at least two inches up from the building paper and vapour barrier to create an overlapping layer that will seal the opening from water infiltration.

At AM Windows and Doors Solutions, all of our installers are well-trained with highly developed skills for window installation and our work speaks for itself. Many subcontractors can say they know how to install windows properly, but many don’t.

What we find when we are replacing windows is short cuts were taken or hardware is installed in the wrong places that have caused leaks through the sill or the flashing has been poorly installed leaving small gaps where water has penetrated the window frame or jamb causing damage.

Before we can say your replacement window installation is a success we need to do one more thing, and that is clean up. Our installers will remove all the debris that was generated during the course of the installation and recycle it appropriately.

We will take the old window with us and take it to a glass recycler – unless of course, the homeowner wants to keep it – and in which case we leave it behind for re-use by the homeowner.

Window installed, debris removed and a warranty for the product and the labour is presented to the homeowner and a window installation is complete.

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