Insider tips on installing replacement windows

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Necessary home improvements
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After spending weeks selecting the perfect replacement windows, it’s time to hire a contractor to install them. Don’t skimp on this task because installation is the most important part of the project. Here’s why:

  1. Improperly installed windows can leak, causing air loss and water damage.
  2. Windows are a major design focus of your home–if they are not aligned properly or the exterior trim is not even, you’ll notice. (So, will your neighbors!)

When interviewing windows contractors, go beyond the basics and ask about:

  1. Measuring. Without good measurements, the contractor has to do lots of improvising, which might show. A few wood shims around the replacement windows are fine, but you don’t want the contractor rebuilding the whole opening. The contractor should take measurements of the top, bottom and sides of the window jambs without including the exterior trim. He or she should take the smallest dimension to get the tightest fit. Here’s more on measuring for replacement windows.
  2. “Level and plumb.” This is contractorspeak for making sure the windows sit straight horizontally (level) and vertically (plumb). If the contractor doesn’t know about both aspects, he’s missing half the picture.
  3. Adjusting trim height and width. Older homes often have sloping walls, so you want a contractor who can taper cut the trim to adjust for a slop of 1 to 2 inches from one end of the wall to the other. For a highly detailed look, try this window trim installation guide from Finehomebuilding.com. This gives you a sense of what a good windows contractor should know.
  4. Energy efficiency. The contractor should know about features such as Low E glass, which can reduce energy loss by 30 to 50 percent, according to Energy Star. Here’s more on energy efficiency.

These four tips could make installation go a little smoother.

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