What Are the Best Tips for DIY Window Replacement?

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  • Written By: B. Leslie Baird
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2019
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Do-it-yourself, or DIY window replacement can be successfully completed but accurate measurements must be taken before any work begins. The correct replacement windows must be available and purchased before the old windows are removed. Taking the time to do the job correctly and using the appropriate tools will make the process go smoothly. New windows must be leveled during installation to ensure proper window operation. In addition, if work is being done above the first story of a building, safe ladder usage is extremely important.

Taking accurate measurements for DIY window replacement is critical. While many home improvement enthusiasts have heard the expression about measuring twice and cutting once, this tip really is the basis of a successful outcome. If windows are purchased that are too small for the opening, large amounts of material will be needed to fill the gaps. Conversely, if the window is too large, cuts will have to be made into the building's framework that could reduce the structural strength of the framing.


Before ordering or purchasing new windows, take the measurements of the interior of the window frame area, not just the window itself. This is the area in which the frame of the old window meets the drywall or woodwork. Measure all four sides, top, and bottom — left and right. It is not uncommon for opposing sides to be slightly different in measurement, if so, use the smallest measurement. While new windows will have to be purchased with equal sides, the shim material needed can be planned for filling any gaps.

Using the correct tools for a DIY window replacement job will not only allow for a better outcome, it will make the work easier to complete. Expensive tools are not required. A set of Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, a hammer and chisel, measuring tape, and a level are the basics needed. A pencil for marking, a pry bar, and a saw are also helpful to have on hand. A caulking gun will make the final finish work go smoothly.

After the old window has been removed from the frame, clear away any old caulking material and protruding nails or screws. To begin the installation portion of a DIY window replacement project, set the new window into place and begin leveling it. Place shims at the bottom, top, or sides as needed. Tighten one screw, about halfway, on all four sides and check the level again. Once the window is level, begin installing and tightening all of the screws into place. Occasionally recheck the level, to ensure the window has not moved in the process.

Before filling gaps with caulk, make a second check that all fastening screws are fully tightened. Check to make sure the window is operational. Apply caulking material as instructed by its manufacturer. Allow the caulk to dry and be proud of completing a successful DIY window replacement project. Remember that some caulking materials may shrink over time, so check the finished work again after a month or so.


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Post 3

@rundocuri- You shouldn't attempt to install replacement windows without some help. If you do, you will have to stop too many times to retrieve tools and check the windows to make sure you are putting them in correctly. You will decrease your frustration significantly if a friend or family member gives you a hand.

Post 2

@rundocuri- I have installed replacement windows by myself, but they were small and located on the first floor. Though I got the job done, it would have been easier if I there had been someone there to help hold the window and check my work.

While replacement windows can be installed by one person, I definitely recommend having a helper. I certainly would not advise taking on this job without help if the windows you are replacing are large or located on the second floor of the house. Having a friend available to help will not only make your DIY window replacement project a lot easier, but it will also make is much safer.

Post 1

I have a few windows to replace, and am thinking about making it a DIY project to save money. Is this a difficult job to tackle by yourself, or is it necessary to have a helper to get it done right?

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