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A Guide to Replacement Windows

Replacement Windows

Many homeowners choose to replace windows with units that look like their originals but are better insulated and easier to maintain. Often, such units are approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) if they match the styling and detailing of existing frames.

Replacement Windows MA can be installed in two ways: pocket or full frame. Pocket installation is less expensive and causes fewer alterations to walls, trims and siding.

Purchasing replacement windows is a major investment. To make sure you’re happy with the results, it’s important to understand what to expect from start to finish. This guide covers everything from the initial browsing phase to installation and beyond, so you can feel confident in your investment.

Before any work is done, a quality contractor will visit your home to help you select the style, color and material of your new windows. They will measure your existing window openings, which helps ensure that the replacement windows are the right size and fit. During this home visit, the FENSA approved installer will also help you determine whether to opt for replacement or new construction windows.

Next, the crew will remove the old windows and prep the area for installation. They will clean the frame and surrounding sealants to remove any dirt, dust or debris that has built up over time. This will ensure the new replacement windows are able to adhere to the existing sealant properly.

They will also score the surrounding trim boards around the window to help separate them from the wall and make it easier to remove them later. This will also reduce any damage to the wall or trim boards during removal. Lastly, the crew will spray foam in the sash weight pockets and sill to provide a tight seal. Then, a pan will be placed at the top and bottom of the window to direct any water out of the opening and prevent it from getting trapped behind the window.

Then, they will begin the actual installation of your replacement windows. They will use shims to fill in any space left between the window and frame to help square it horizontally and vertically. A high-quality installer will use shims sparingly, only where necessary and in places that will be difficult to reach once the window is set.

Once the window is set, the team will install exterior trim or cladding to protect the window from weather and moisture. They will also apply caulk to the inside of the frame and sash. This will create a weatherproof barrier that will keep heat and cold from escaping your home and water from entering.


When replacing windows, homeowners have several options. They can opt for wood, aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass frames and sashes. Each material has its pros and cons that are important to consider.

The window frame consists of three parts: the head, jambs, and sill. Together, these form a precise opening in which the window sash fits. The frame also provides support and durability for the glass and sash.

Choosing the right frame material depends on the style of your home and personal preference. For example, wood frames offer a classic look and come in many color options. They are a popular choice among homeowners who want to maintain the architectural integrity of older homes or landmark districts. Wood is also more durable and holds up well in all weather conditions. However, it requires more maintenance than aluminum.

In addition to the materials used to make the frames, some replacement windows feature special insulating materials. These insulating materials help to reduce energy costs and keep the indoor temperature stable throughout the year. One common type of insulation is polyurethane foam, which fills the hollow spaces inside the frame. Other replacement windows are insulated with argon or krypton gas. These gases are denser than air and act as an insulator to reduce heat transfer and block out unwanted noise.

There are three main types of replacement windows: sash kits, insert replacements, and full-frame units. Sash kits, like the ones Tom found in his Newton house, provide new sashes and jamb liners in an existing frame. They attach the new liners to the old side jambs, and then slip the new sashes in between. Insert replacements are similar but have the added benefit of being a pre-assembled unit that can be slipped into an existing opening. Full-frame units are the most complicated to install, but they are often recommended for older buildings or structures that require more detailed framing.

For the best results, when installing replacement windows, it is important to follow proper installation guidelines. This helps to ensure the windows fit correctly and operate properly, and that they are secured to the studs in the wall. In addition, it is important to choose the correct hardware and caulking. This will ensure that the window is watertight and secure, protecting against moisture, pests, and harmful UV rays.


A high-quality contractor should take care not to damage your home’s walls and trim during the window replacement process. They should also protect furniture and wall decorations that can’t be moved to another part of your home for the duration of the project. They’ll cover these areas with tarps to minimize debris and possible damage. In addition to this, a quality installer will continuously sweep and clean the area around your new windows as they’re installing them.

When removing an existing window, your contractors should start by removing the sash and sill, if they are still attached to the frame. They’ll then remove the old sealant and scrape away any rotting wood along the frame. They’ll also inspect the frames for signs of rot or water damage, particularly in the sill and lower sections of the exterior trim. They may be able to repair these sections with epoxy or wood filler, but if the damage is severe, it’s better to replace these parts to avoid future problems.

Installers should also clear out any remaining window hardware and remove the storm windows if you have them. They’ll then vacuum and sweep the area around the window to remove any remaining dust or dirt, and apply an elastomeric caulking in the raw opening to help prevent water leaks. They’ll also apply two continuous beads of caulk around the exterior casings and blind stops on the inside of the frame.

If they’re replacing an insert window, your contractors will measure the existing window openings to ensure that your new window is the correct size. They’ll also make sure the window is plumb (level) by adding shims (scraps of wood about 1/8 to 1/4 in (0.32 to 0.64 cm) thick) under the bottom of the window to prop it up on one side. If you have a bubble level, place it against the outside of the frame and check that the window is plumb. Then, if the window isn’t plumb, you can add additional shims until it is.

Finally, your installer will stuff insulation in the spaces between the new window and the frame to improve energy efficiency. They’ll also screw the sash into its new jambs and install the new parting stop on the top of the frame.

Final Inspection

As with any home improvement project, it’s a good idea to perform a final inspection. This will help ensure that the job is completed correctly and the new replacement windows are performing as intended. The inspection should start with a visual examination of the windows, looking for cracks or holes in the glass, the window frame or the trim around the window. In addition, the seals should be evaluated. If they are cracked or showing signs of water damage they should be replaced.

The sash should also be checked. If it moves freely and without a lot of effort, it is probably in good condition. However, if it sticks, or it is difficult to move the window up and down, the seals may have failed and air and moisture are infiltrating the home. It is also important to examine the frame for moisture, rotting or insect infestation. If these issues are identified, they should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the frame and to the home.

Another important consideration is to determine whether the replacement windows meet code requirements for fall safety, egress in an emergency and wind storm loading requirements. If the window design and installation do not comply with these standards, it could result in leaks and structural damage to the building. This is particularly important in coastal areas.

In addition, the window contractor should be questioned about any warranty coverage that may exist. Some manufacturers offer warranties covering parts and labor for a limited time after the window is installed. This type of warranty should be carefully reviewed to understand the details and limitations. It is also a good idea to review the building code requirements for pull permits, sidewalk sheds and environmental testing before starting any work on the exterior of your building. Taking these steps will help ensure that your replacement windows are installed properly and provide the energy efficiency and comfort that they were designed to deliver.