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Wood Windows – Replacement Kits

Brrrrrrrrr! Can you feel that draft through those older double hung wood windows? Are you tired of cleaning those aluminum triple track storm windows that have pitted and oxidized? Would you like new wood windows with top of the line Low-E glass, but you don't want to change the architectural integrity of your house? If so, you are a prime candidate for wood window replacement kits.

Rattle, Rattle

Do your existing wood double hung windows rattle in their frames? I mean even slightly? Have you noticed that outside noise is very pronounced when you stand close to these windows? Have you ever seen any weatherstripping on these windows? I already know the answers to these questions.

Old fashioned double hung wood windows leak HUGE volumes of air. They never had any weatherstripping installed at the factory. Heck, I don't even think they had weatherstripping 70 years ago! A really good indicator of the amount of air that these windows leak is the amount of noise you hear through them. Sound waves travel through air. Air travels between old wood windows and the window jambs.

If you block all air passages into a space, noise can only be created by actually vibrating the walls or floor. You can demonstrate this by touring a new model home. Most of these houses are quite air tight and as such, they are eerily quiet inside. Wood window replacement kits can go a long way in duplicating this effect in your home.

On the Ropes

Have you ever had to replace a window rope or sash cord? If you accomplished this task successfully, you can install virtually any of the window replacement kits by yourself.

I have personally installed hundreds of these windows. They are a breeze to install. Granted, the first time I installed one I was scratching my head for a while. But, once the window popped into place, BINGO! On average, it only took me about an hour to install a window from start to finish.

These kits are attractive for several reasons: the complete installation can happen inside the house (no need for ladders), the exterior and interior woodwork escapes the process virtually untouched, most kits provide you with an exterior full length screen, virtually every window is either removable or tilts in for easy cleaning and maintenance.

How is it Done?

Your double hung windows can be removed in a flash. Remember that narrow (1/2 x 1 1/4 inch) piece of stop molding that holds the lower window in place? That and the parting stop (narrow 1/2 x 3/4 inch piece of wood that separates the two windows from one another) are the only pieces of wood that stand in your way. Remove these pieces of wood and the sashes (windows) flop around in the opening like fish on a pier.

Now the only thing holding the window in place is the sash cord. I always cut these and let the window weights drop inside the frame. The last items to remove are the two window pulleys. After a little practice, you should be able to accomplish the entire removal in just under 15 minutes.

Look Mom, no Weights!

These newer windows operate by using spring loaded balances that are hidden in thin jamb liners. The jamb liners fit on the sides of the window frame. Usually they have a foam backing which acts as an insulator, a wind break and provides the flexibility required to allow you to install and remove the sashes in just seconds.

Quality manufacturers make these jamb liners out of long lasting maintenance free vinyl. They attach to the sides of the window opening with metal clips that are simply nailed or screwed to the frame.

Hidden within the jamb liners are spring balances that allow the windows to glide up and down with minimal effort. The liners have a contour to match each sash. This provides for an airtight fit along the sides of the window.

Options Galore

Have you been to a new home lately? How about a window showroom? If so, you probably have seen the multitude of options on new wood windows. Well guess what? Virtually every option you have seen in complete windows is available in the wood window replacement kits. After all, the major components of a new window are the sashes, the glazing (glass), the jambs, grilles and interior and exterior finishes. Well, when you purchase a kit, you get all of these things. Remember, the only distinction between these kits and a full window is simply the frame.

One manufacturer, Weather Shield, offers many different species of wood, including traditional pine, oak and cherry. This option could come in very handy if you are attempting to match windows in an existing study or library. It may save trying to "grain" a pine window to match.

Another manufacturer, Pella, offers an unusual kit. They actually supply a thin frame which evidently fits into the opening you create after the old windows are removed. My guess is that this kit possibly reduces the daylight opening of the completed window.

The kits that do not offer the extra frame rarely, if ever, reduce the actual glass area or daylight opening.

My personal experience has primarily been with the Marvin Tilt-Pac. Marvin goes to great lengths, as do many manufacturers, to produce a window sash that matches architecturally. You can even order the windows with the curved horns that often appear on the top corners of many older bottom sashes. This is a very fine touch.

If you are looking for a maintenance free exterior, several of the manufacturers offer aluminum clad exteriors. However, prior to ordering this option, be sure that your existing openings are very square. For a perfect fit, the sashes often need to be scribed. Aluminum doesn't react favorably with a belt sander!

Measuring the Opening

If you decide to tackle this project yourself, I suggest getting some assistance from the local distributor when measuring. Remember, these windows will be custom made to fit your opening. There is no taking them back if they don't fit. Mistakes are costly! Check and re-check your measurements. If you measure accurately and have a square opening, you will be able to crank out a window an hour. Good luck!

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