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Should You Install Your Own Replacement Windows?

Replacement windows can add a great new look to your home, plus enhance your energy efficiency. If you're debating whether to tackle this project yourself, start with a little research. Here's the scoop on installing prehung replacement windows.

The Ins and Outs of Replacement Windows

Installing replacement windows is not as easy as setting the window in place and securing it to the frame. There also is a lot of measuring, leveling, and plumbing involved, particularly if you're dealing with an old house.

If you have experience with small to medium sized carpentry projects such as building shelves, cabinetry, or decks, then installing windows might be a good fit. If this is your first experience with windows, however, consider asking a friend with some expertise to help. You'll need the expertise as well as the muscle for lifting the windows and setting them in place.

Then, be sure to read the manufacturer's guidelines carefully.

When to Hire a Contractor

If your home improvement skills are more suited for small woodworking and repair projects, then consider hiring a contractor. Or, you may want to turn to a contractor if your professional or personal life prevents you from having large blocks of free time.

In most cases, you'll be installing a pre-hung window, which means that it comes with the sash, frame, sill, hardware, and trim. You also may have to add shims or larger pieces of lumber to frame the opening. This type of work involves accurate measuring, plus good cutting and installation skills.

Consider whether you can measure correctly and compensate for odd shaped openings, which is key to getting the right size and having a window that fits tightly in the opening.

Your Tool Collection

When installing windows, you'll also need a good set of tools. Aside from a drill, level, and protective eyewear, you'll also need one of the following:

  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Reciprocating saw

The exact type of saw varies based on the type of exterior material you are cutting through and other factors.

Extra Hands

Windows are heavy and typically require at least two people for installation. If you're debating whether to install your own windows, consider whether you have friends who could help with the installation. Otherwise, this project would be better suited for a professional contractor.

Replacement windows are an important feature for any home. Before jumping into installing them, consider whether you have the skills, equipment, resources, and time to complete the job correctly.