Tips for window installation decisions
(NC)—Your home is ready for new windows. From century-old homes to new tract houses, windows often fail to perform to expectations.
You soon find, however, that the window specialists you bring in don't agree on the best installation procedure for your needs. Some recommend an "insert window" (also called a retrofit installation) and others recommend a "full tear-out". The question is: what do these mean to you and which is the best for meeting your needs?
David Mitten, the executive director of Sawdac's Window Wise program explains:
“An insert window has traditionally been the most common method used to upgrade residential homes. It involves removing the sashes of your old window but leaving the frame in place. As a result, the new window is slightly smaller as it is sealed to your existing frame. In a tear-out, the frame of the original window is also removed and a window is inserted into the same opening created during the home's construction. Tear-outs are becoming significantly more popular.”
Tear-outs also give you the opportunity to upgrade the quality or design characteristics of the interior and exterior components of your window with new brickmoulds on the outside and new jambs and casings on the interior. Mitten points out that, “you can replace pine casing with stainable oak or maintenance free vinyl materials. Your new window can be built as a single structural unit to properly interface with your exterior brick or siding as well as your interior wall. Also, insulation and air-barrier connections from the new window to the wall can be well-done with foams and tapes that didn't exist a few years ago.”
If a tear-out is so good, you're probably asking why any window specialist installs any other way? There are some legitimate reasons.
First, you may not have a problem with the way the original window was installed, so the rip out is not crucial from a building envelope point of view.,
“The larger window, complete with all the required interior and exterior trims will cost more and this may be a limiting factor in how many windows you can replace,” Mitten continued. “You may be very happy with your existing interior and exterior trims and the idea of ripping them out makes little sense to you. The tear-out installation itself is a larger project requiring a higher level of skill from your tradesmen. There are window installers who don't have the skills or experience to properly measure and install windows using a tear-out method.”
How to decide
What about the sales person who says: "We can do a tear-out for about the same price as your insert quotes."?
Mitten answers with: “I've seen a lot of these good deals and in every case they've left something out of the installation, like no brick moulds on the outside, no insulation, no connection to the air-barrier, or no jamb extensions on the inside.”
Tips to ensure a quality tear-out:
1. The first sign is proper measuring techniques prior to ordering your windows from the factory. The contractor must be certain what size window will fit into the original rough opening. Since the window hides the rough opening, to accomplish this he will more than likely have to remove some interior casing to see the actual outside dimensions of the original window.
2. Your contract should specify the components of your window installation in detail. It should specifically describe the exterior components being chosen for your home as well as any interior components that will be part of the window. It should not say simply, "jamb", but should say (for example), "vinyl wrapped 4 1/2" interior wood jamb and welded 2" exterior brick mould". If you are going to reuse existing casing or get all new material, the contract should specify what it is. For example, a contract may say, "Includes new primed 2 7/8" colonial style wood casing." In this case, you would be expected to take care of painting the casing yourself because final painting is not in the contract, however if the installer started to put back old, chipped casing, you would be right to insist on new material instead.
3. During the installation, your old window will be completely removed. This will give the installer the opportunity to insulate the space around the new window and to connect the window to the poly vapour barrier located behind the drywall.
In summary, your newly installed "tear-out" window gives your entire opening a new look with better overall integration and more glass area than an insert.
For more information please visit www.sawdac.com.
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