New Andersen window after being installed in old house. Condensed Article:

Replacing A Window In An Old House

In This Article:

The original wood window is removed and the rough opening is cleaned up. A new construction type of vinyl window is installed.

There is also a detailed version of this article.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 3-4 (Intermediate to Advanced) Time Taken: 12 Hours

By , Editor


Window replacement can be quite straightforward. The procedure for installing a "new construction" type of window is basically:

  • Remove the old window sashes.
  • Remove the old window frame (usually called jambs).
  • Make sure the window opening is the right size for the new unit, filling in with blocks of wood if necessary.
  • Install the new window according to the manufacturers instructions.
  • Cover the nailing flange with a strip of rubberized asphalt membrane (Such as Vycor).
  • Replace or repair the window trim, inside and outside.
  • Caulk and paint as needed.


Old Window Removal:

After the window sashes were removed, we cut out the old window frame, using a reciprocating saw to cut the nails. Removing old wooden window in old house.


A bit of old house anatomy:

1) Window exterior trim
2) 1x12 sheathing
3) Framing (stud)
4) Lath
5) Plaster


A peculiar problem:

Removing the exterior trim meant getting the awning out of the way. Note how the awning brackets rest on the vertical trim. First we broke the paint bond between adjacent pieces of wood. Then we carefully pried the awning away from the house with a series of wedges and shims.


The exterior trim was removed by cutting the nails with a reciprocating saw.
We drove in some deck screws to more securely attach the old sheathing to the studs. This took all of 10 minutes.


We removed and repaired the original sill.

This piece of wood received a thorough coating of epoxy wood preservative, (Liquid Wood by Abatron) and then a coating of oil-based primer (applied to all sides.)

Then the sill was installed with 3-1/2" deck screws, while making sure that it was level.


Installing The New Window:

We ran a bead of caulk around the window opening. The window was set in the opening and positioned evenly. (A level sill is crucial!). One nail was installed at a top corner.
Each side was checked for plumb...


... the top was checked for levelness...
...and the diagonals were checked.

When all the above steps were acceptable, the window flange was nailed with 2" roofing nails, according to the manufacturers instructions.

A bead of caulking was applied to the bottom.


We used foam foundation sill-seal insulation as a flashing material around the sides. This foam was tucked under the wood siding. While not the best flashing material, it did work well. But... the trim must be caulked carefully.

A better material is a product like Vycor rubberized asphalt membrane. See Part 2 of the detailed version for more info.


The trim was installed (we had to rip it narrower on a table saw). Then it was primed, caulked, and painted. 

We generously applied the siliconized acrylic latex caulk, covering all joints and gaps around the window and exterior trim.


This photo shows the ladders, ladder jacks, and extension plank that we used to gain access to the second-story window. While expensive (about $700 for the whole works), it is a worthwhile investment for the owner of any old and tall house. It gives stable (i.e safe) access to almost any part of the building, allowing painting and repairs to be within reach of the homeowner. Hiring a painter costs much more.

View the detailed version of this article, in 2 parts.


Tools Used:

  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Table Saw (for altering the exterior trim).
  • Belt Sander (for paint removal).
  • Ladders, Ladder Jacks, Extension Plank

Materials Used:

  • Andersen 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Window
  • 2" Roofing Nails
  • Flashing Material


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Copyright 2000, 2005

Written January 20, 2000
Revised January 23, 2005