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Replacing Your Windows by Yourself

Tools and Measurements


After an unusually high estimate for replacing windows, many a homeowner has considered a do-it-yourself window replacement.

The process of replacing your own windows is pretty much the same as professional window companies do, but with a few less bells and whistles.

Please note: as each type of replacement window is different, it is highly recommended that you pay close attention to the installation instructions included with your window. However, following are general replacement window installation instructions.

Window Replacement Tools and Materials

  • A good dripless caulking gun and plenty of caulking tubes
  • A square
  • Wood shims
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Hammer
  • Strong cordless drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood chisel
  • Utility knife
  • Small prybar (not the larger wrecking bar)
  • Replacement window

Measure Your Existing Window

Please note that you are measuring windows from the inside of the house, not the outside.

1. Measure Width

Run tape from one side of the window jamb to the other side of the window jamb. You will be measuring from the inside of one jamb to the inside of the opposite jamb. Because windows can warp and skew over the years, measure at bottom, middle, and top. Hopefully all measurements will be the same or within 1/4". If not, choose the smallest measurement as your "keeper."

2. Measure Height

Same routine here but do it vertically. Again, you're measuring from the inside of the sill (that is, top) to the inside of the top window jamb (that is, its bottom-most face). Measure left, middle, and right, and choose the smallest measurement.

Just a note--you're keeping the smallest measurements so that the replacement window you order will fit in the opening. Any gaps will be filled in later.

Next...Removing the Old Window

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