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Vinyl window replacement and retrofitting


In prior pieces, I covered identifying whether vinyl replacement or retrofit frames would be the best option for your windows. This week, I’ll go over the proper way to set up both varieties of frames. The adapted frame is our starting point.

Installing windows in a retrofit is the least complicated option. The outside trim is already affixed to the retrofit window. That fin is entirely flush with the exterior wall (often stucco). Drill 3/8″ holes in the window’s frame at the points where you intend to fasten it. Typically, three holes are on each side, and another three across the top. The bottom track should not have any holes predrilled in it. A thick bead of caulk should be applied to the exposed aluminum frame once the previous panels have been removed. You and your helper will then need to place the vinyl window’s bottom onto the old aluminum bottom track and lift it into place. The “stop” function of the flush fin or retrofit lip will secure the window. Hold the window for me while I go inside, please.

The window should be centered in the opening once inside. Slide the vent panel open and closed to check that the window is square and level. Shim the bottom right or left corner by inserting a shim material between the sill and the bottom of the window frame to correct for out-of-square circumstances. Put a 3″ deck screw through the 3/8″ holes and into the wood studs after the board is square. Don’t overtighten; the screw has to be seated. Get the screws out of the top and sides, then pull out the panel. The bottom rail needs to be disengaged. Insert a thin screwdriver into the drainage holes in the track and lift. Reinstall the sliding panel’s track by driving a single screw into its center bottom hole and caulking around its screw head. Caulk the space between the retrofit fin and the house’s exterior now that you’ve returned outside. To prevent water from seeping through, a double layer of protection is ideal. You should put the new frame in the opening after applying a substantial bead of caulk. The remaining work can be completed internally.

The first step is to conceal the screw heads by plugging the 3/8″ screw holes. We provide the plugs for spots online for purchase. To view an image, select the “shop” option. The pins will automatically fill the gap. The next stage is to install R-13 insulation in the space left by the new frame. The spray-on foam insulation should not be used. The warranty policies of many companies become null and void if the foam is used. The frame can distort even with non-expanding foams, which can be problematic. Insulation must be packed very tightly. It’s recommended that you use a dust mask for this step. Insulation bothers a lot of people, including me. To complete the job, the trim must be installed inside after the insulation has been installed. Wooden molding from the hardware shop works well for this purpose.

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However, a flat vinyl trim color-matched that that window frame is the finest option. You can buy the flat edge from a local window contractor, browse the website’s “shop” section, or both! We stock it in three widths, but a 1 3/4″ broad section is the most popular. The trim is self-adhesive on both sides. The top and bottom are trimmed and adhered to the vinyl frame before the decoration is attached to the drywall. This protects the insulation and the rusty metal structure underneath. Move on to the side pieces. Caulking the seams between the trim and the walls is the final step.

A replacement frame’s setup is similar to a retrofit frame. However, there are a few key distinctions. When installing a replacement frame into an existing opening, the flush fin is no longer there to secure the frame in place. The structure will need to be held in place by you and a helper while a screw is driven into the top center. Then you can make the necessary corrections to achieve a square. Everything on the interior will be done in the same way, from sealing holes to installing insulation to installing trim and caulking. It looks different on the exterior. The retrofit frame’s molding must be installed. Once again, I choose the plainer trim. You caulk the old frame again, then measure and cut the new top and bottom edges to fit. The rim should be adhered to the vinyl frame, and the caulk bead should be in touch with the other side. Caulk the area where the border meets the exterior again once you’ve trimmed all four sides.

As you can see, it makes little difference whether your property is clad in brick, stone, siding, or stucco for its outside. Vinyl windows are easy to install and pose no threat to the building’s integrity. Visit to get our comprehensive collection of instructional films. We will begin talking about replacing your sliding glass doors next week.

Since 1978, John Rocco has worked as a window installer. Go to How To Setup for additional information.

Read also: Environmentally Friendly Construction and Renovation.