Can I Install Replacement Windows Myself?

“Can’t never could,” my Dad used to say whenever there was something that I said I couldn’t do during my younger years. But, being the wise man that he was, I can also remember him saying, “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.”

Having worked directly with homeowners considering replacing the windows in their home, a very common question I get is, “Can I install replacement windows myself?” Having learned this lesson from my Dad, my answer would be, “You can, but should you ?”

Understanding How to Install Replacement Windows

After all, how hard could it be to replace a window, right? Maybe it’s a bit harder than you think. Do it yourself window replacement requires an understanding of how the original window was installed, how to properly measure and how to deal with common installation issues, such as trying to put a new window into an opening that is no longer square.

The replacement window installation process can be a complicated and tedious one, even if everything goes perfectly.

The first thing to understand is how replacement windows work. There’s two main ways to replace a window, a pocket replacement installation or a full frame replacement installation.

The vast majority of window replacements are pocket type installations. As opposed to what happens in a full frame replacement, the interior and exterior trim is left in place, as well as the original rough opening. Then the new replacement window is placed inside of the original rough opening.

Often the windows have to be strategically moved around in an opening that has shifted or otherwise changed over time. It’s sort of like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. This requires the use of shims so that the new window fits and operates properly.

Additionally, most replacement window installers will wrap the exterior window casing in a coil stock to match the color of the window. This is done to make the wood maintenance free, water-tight and aesthetically pleasing.

Can or Should?

So, while you absolutely can install replacement windows yourself, understand these things before you decide whether or not you should.

  • Measuring for replacement windows—Measuring for a replacement window is not the sameinstall_replacement_windows_myselfas measuring for a full frame replacement. And no, you can’t just go buy a stock size from your local big box store. Almost all replacement windows are custom made to specific measurements by the manufacturer.
  • Understanding the original installation process—Replacing a wood window is totally different, from an install standpoint, than replacing a metal window, and each requires different tools and skill set.
  • Unforeseen issues—What happens if the glass breaks while you are in the middle of the install? What if the window is a shade too big, or too small?
  • Tools and skill set—Replacing a metal window could require cutting the old window out of the opening. You don’t do that with a skill saw. Wrapping the exterior molding in coil stock requires a special bending tool called a “break” that bends the coil so as to match the design of the original trim. Most homeowners don’t have these types of tools sitting around.
  • Warranty—Installation is not covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. It is typically part of a labor warranty provided by your installing home improvement dealer. Improper installation of your replacement windows can not only make a great window worthless, but could also lead to issues that could voida manufacturers warranty.

Sunrise Windows works with licensed and heavily vetted home improvement partners that provide the windows and  a warrantied installation process. We even offer our dealers and their installation teams an industry best certification opportunity through the AAMA InstallationMasters program.

My Dad was a “can do” type of guy, a real diy’er. But when it came time to install replacement windows in our family home, guess what he did…he left it to the professionals. Maybe you should as well.