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SuperJETT 11-12-2012 09:40 AM

Replace original windows myself?
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Our 'new' house has 15 large original wood single pane double hung windows. They are ~6' tall x 3' wide and somewhere around 110 years old. Most do not open any longer or are a huge pain to open or shut or both.

We have 7 more that aren't quite that old but are still single pane wood, plus 9 cheap vinyl double pane and 8 more in the basement.

I got a quote for Marvin Infinity windows installed at ~$900/each which for the size is about market pricing but we don't do debt (except a mortgage) so that's out of reach right now. I really like those windows but after talking to a coworker he suggested I buy/install myself for more like $400/ea for a good window.

I can handle just about anything on a house, plumbing/electrical/walls/interior doors/tile/drywall/etc but have never done windows so I'm looking for some advice.

Our windows have nice old oak trim inside that has probably been in place for 100+ years and about 15 coats of paint including lead-based for sure.

So just how hard is it to do replacements? We have vinyl siding over the original wood siding and wrapping around the windows. I've never done any of that before and is probably my main concern---shimming/interior trim isn't that big a deal to me.

Also, we're concerned about the heating bill this winter because we have no history to go off of. 2500+ sq ft with the basement 1/2 above ground level and 40 windows. The exterior walls are 2x6 with blown-in from some point long ago and we have a new 92% gas furnace.

All windows have storms on them, so we should be somewhere around R-2 on the windows, correct? New double pane low-E are R-3.3. I just don't think we'll save that much money on the bill but the ability to open/close windows is a bigger draw right now.


joecaption 11-12-2012 10:39 AM

Why not go with replacement windows? SUre would be a whole lot less money then what your quoting and only needs some basic hand tools.
The only hard part is wraping the outside wood with coil stock, any siding company could do that part for you.

Windows on Wash 11-12-2012 10:52 AM

If you are concerned about utilities, look at your attic and air sealing first. If you have done that, next step would be HVAC but you have addressed that.

Next would be windows.

You can probably do them pretty simply but the wrapping should be left to a pro if you go from outside in.

HomeSealed 11-12-2012 11:02 AM

+2. In addition, the r-value does not take air leakage into account which is probably significant with windows of that age. As WOW mentioned, attic insulation and air sealing will be the biggest bang for the buck purely from an efficiency stand-point, but the windows do come into play as well. They can definitely be installed DIY if you are a handy and mechanically skilled person.

SuperJETT 11-12-2012 12:01 PM

That's what I've been thinking to do, install from the outside then have a local company come wrap them for me.

On the utilities, I've done some thermal scanning of the house already (see avatar) to identify problem areas. Overall, the insulation is decent with doors/windows and the add-on room in back being the problem areas. I do think the attic could use a little more but it's pretty good for now and access is really difficult with very small openings.

I want to put 'decent' windows in because the house deserves it. It's got a great look and I don't want to cheapen it. I do really like the Infinity windows but not enough to bite on $900/each.

Next question, we have a Shelter Distribution here locally that carries several lines of windows. Atrium, Certainteed, Quaker, Revere, Simonton, and Silver Line. I've been looking into a few of those but no prices yet. I think my pricepoint to actually do them is in the $300-400/window range since I'll be doing the work then getting them wrapper after. Which of those are the lower end and which are nicer?

Windows on Wash 11-12-2012 01:46 PM

Simonton, provided it is one of their better units, is the best of that bunch.

Where are you located? I would look for a Soft-Lite, Okna, Sunrise, or HiMark window if you can.

SuperJETT 12-03-2012 08:19 PM

I just replaced the first floor bath window this weekend myself. I used a basic vinyl from Lowe's, $100 after discount. It was surprisingly easy, though I didn't expect it to be hard either. I think next spring we'll revisit replacing the large originals with a decent window so we can actually open them when the weather is nice.

joecaption 12-03-2012 09:55 PM

Really should be installing the windows from the inside not the outside as you stated.
Also you should be having the windows wraped first then change out the windows.
Reason being the metal need to be installed on the sill first, it's installed so it goes all the way back to the stool.
When the new windows go in they sit on top of the metal.
If you do it backward and install the metal later there's no way to get the metal up under the new window so it leaves an exposed seam on the outside of the window.

HomeSealed 12-04-2012 09:01 AM

Outside install is the method most commonly used by window pros. Both inside and outside are viable options, however the outside install keeps your nice painted interior trim intact without a bunch of cut paint lines, new nail holes, etc. Also, from a professional perspective, it makes RRP (lead safe) compliance much easier , = less costly. Your method of having someone come wrap the windows after they are installed is perfectly fine as well, and is very commonplace.:)
... Also, when you had that thermal scan done, did they hook up a blower door? That is the only reliable way to find all of the major points of air-leakage. If not, it might make that attic performance look a bit better than it is if it was never air-sealed properly. I'm sure that GBR will post some great links on stack effect and air-sealing if he reads this. :D

SuperJETT 12-04-2012 09:06 AM

After joe's comment and yours, it made me realize my friend (who tripled the size of the house he bought) is who recommended doing it from the inside and 2 different companies I have talked to mentioned doing it from the outside.

We do have nice old wood trim, painted with I'm sure many layers of lead paint. In removing the window trim during the first floor bathroom remodel, I broke the window frame due to the nails being so long/rusted and had to repair that during the new window install.

I think my plan is to do the back window in our master bedroom first because it's on the back side of the house under a roof, so not a visible one and it's protected from the elements. That would be great to get a feel for things as opposed to one of the second floor windows on the front of the house...

HomeSealed 12-04-2012 04:10 PM

Inside installs are fine and effective, especially for DIY. The lead safe renovation while still a health concern for you, is not regulated for DIY like it is for professionals. The main drawback that you'll experience (as you already have) is messing up your woodwork. If you are going to cap the exterior anyway, the exterior method is a good choice.

SuperJETT 12-04-2012 04:38 PM

I did the thermal scan myself. We have a nice FLIR camera at work that I used. I plan on doing some more once it gets really cold, but so far it's helped me identify/prioritize spots that need attention and are quick/easy to take care of, the 'low hanging fruit'.

SuperJETT 02-14-2013 07:33 PM

So, revisiting this, just for giggles (and being at a home renovation show) we got a quote from Renewal/Andersen. ~$650/ea for the big one, ~$580/ea for the small ones, around $13,500 for the house not counting the basement.

I think our decision is going to be Simonton from a local distributor and I put them in myself with some help from my coworker who has done a lot of them in his house.

My question is, which Simonton line? Our house is 110+ years old and we plan on being here a long time.

SuperJETT 04-27-2015 02:19 PM

Revisiting this...

We never moved on the windows but are getting quotes again. Renewal updated their quote to ~$600/window, but based on reviews we're not going that direction. I had America's Window come out but they were higher and high pressure tactics, so they are out.

Next up is a local Exterior contractor that 2 different friends recommended after being very happy with their window jobs.

I'm also rethinking doing it myself and starting with the one that's facing the back but under cover.

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