Installing Retrofit Windows | A Guide

Installing retrofit windows is a relatively easy way to improve the aesthetic value of your home and get more energy efficient windows. Retrofit windows are also known as replacement windows, meaning that the windows you install will be ordered to fit right in the openings left by your original frames.

Benefits of Installing Retrofit Windows

The primary reason homeowners go with retrofits is to get better energy efficiency. These windows can greatly reduce energy costs due to the increased efficiency which most retrofit windows now offer. The amount of energy savings you can reap will be somewhat dependent on what type of retrofit you are installing. Another benefit of these windows is that they will undoubtedly enhance the look of your home.

Most new windows simply look better than old ones and both beautify and increase your home’s energy efficiency. Finally, the big benefit of installing retrofit windows is that they increase the value of your home, so when it is time to sell you can recoup much of the expense you initially have to spend on this project.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Retrofit Windows

You can opt to hire a professional for your replacements, but installing windows yourself is something that can also be handled by many homeowners that have some basic construction skills, as well as a helping hand! The process of installing retrofit windows is not easy, but it is also not overly difficult, so if you’re willing to put in the time to make sure the job is done right, you can save yourself a lot of money in the process.

On average, DIY installation costs $25 per window. Professional installation runs somewhere between $100 and $250 per window. Want more info on pricing, check out our replacement window costs article.

Necessary Supplies

Retrofit or Replacement Windows
Insulation (R-13 is recommended
Window trim
Caulking gun and caulk
Tape measure

Step 1.
Measure, measure, measure. The first, and most important, part is making sure you have the correct measurements so that everything fits properly. Measure the opening inside the window frame (don’t measure the whole frame) because the existing frame will remain intact.

Step 2.
Once you have your retrofit windows and are ready to install them, remove the existing window panels and drill holes along the top and sides using a 3/8″ drill bit. There should be three holes on each side, as well as on the top.

Step 3.
Once the window panels are removed, a thick bead of caulk should be placed around the entire frame. This will help create a seal when you install the new panes.

Step 4.
Once the new retrofitted window has been placed within the frame, ensure that the window is level. You can use a level and also try opening and closing the window to see if it is installed properly.

Step 5.
If it is not level, place shims along any section that is required to level the installed window. Once this is done, place screws into the drilled holes along the top and sides of the window made in step 2. Do not tighten the screws all the way yet.

Step 6.
Once the screws are all in place, remove the siding panel so the bottom track of the window can be lifted out.   Then lift up the drainage holes in the track. Place caulk around the screw hole in the center bottom of the track and then place a screw in the hole. Once this has been completed and the track is back in place, replace the siding panel.

Step 7.
Tighten all screws.

Step 8.
After the siding panel is back in place, lay a bead of caulk along the outside lip of the panel where it meets the house to reduce the chance of water penetration.

Step 9.
Head inside and place insulation in the gaps around the frame. R-13 insulation should be used and it should be packed tightly in the spaces.

Step 10.
Install window trim around the window frame to complete the window installation. If needed, lay a thin bead of caulk around the edges where the trim meets the wall to create a finished seal.

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