Replacing Windows With an Old Frame

  • Replacement Windows
  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Robert, with a question about replacing windows with an old frame, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ROBERT: Well, I’ve got an old Astro pole barn. It’s about 30 years old. Has original windows in it, which appear to be just sort of slid in from the outside. Got a flange around them.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: And then they were bedded in with white RTV.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    ROBERT: Now, I want to replace those windows and I can’t figure out how I’m going to get rid of that RTV to let loose of the frames so I can pull them out of there.

    TOM: Yeah. If you’ve got windows that have a flange all the way around – and these are 30-year-old windows?

    ROBERT: Yes.

    TOM: So, one option for you when replacing windows with an old frame is – if you want to just leave the outside frame of the window in place – is to go with replacement windows. And the way that works is you basically would remove the sashes, the part that slides up and down. You would be removing any trim on the sides and on the header. And then when you buy a replacement window, every single replacement window is designed to essentially be custom-built. So you would buy them to fit inside that opening.

    So you would have an energy-efficient, easy-to-operate window but you would be retaining that – just the wood frame around the outside of the one you have now and the trim on the outside. But typically, what happens with that is the replacement-window installers will also wrap that trim with aluminum, you know, to make it look great and be kind of maintenance-free.

    So, in your case, if you don’t want to mess with that siding, what you could do is just go with replacement windows and it’ll actually be easier to install. They go in pretty quick.

    ROBERT: I see. Well, I was kind of planning on removing the whole thing because it’s a standard size, 24×36. And I’d picked up some windows – replacement windows – from …

    TOM: When you say you picked up some replacement windows, what you mean is you just picked up some more – we call them “new-construction windows” that have the flange on the outside.

    ROBERT: No, they have no flanges on them.

    TOM: They don’t. So then did you find replacement windows that will fit inside the existing old window opening?
    ROBERT: Yes.

    TOM: What’s your question? I mean you’ve got what you need to do this project.

    ROBERT: Well, I need to get rid of that RTV so I can get the old frame out of there.

    TOM: Well, when you’re replacing windows with an old frame, if it’s a replacement window, then you don’t remove the old frame. That’s the point. The old frame stays in place and the replacement window fits inside of that. That’s what you do when replacing windows with an old frame – that’s the way the whole industry works.

    ROBERT: I understand that but without getting rid of the frame, I don’t have the exact dimension that I need.

    TOM: OK. So your replacement window, yeah, doesn’t fit inside of the existing window. It fits in the existing rough opening but it doesn’t fit in the existing window.

    ROBERT: Exactly. No.

    TOM: See, what I’m trying to explain to you is that typical replacement windows are basically made to order and they fit inside the opening of the old window and that’s why it’s such an easy way to do a replacement. So, I’m afraid I can’t give you an easy way to do this. You know what your options are. You’re either going to have to open it all up from the outside to use the windows you bought or you’re going to have to go with a true replacement-window design.

    Robert, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    ROBERT: Thank you.

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