Common Window Replacement Mistakes

Common Window Replacement Mistakes

Replacement windows are a big purchase. In addition to being a major cost investment, new windows can be a big change to the look of a home or building. Make sure you’re happy with the choices you make and have a good remodeling experience by avoiding these mistakes.

10 Common Window Replacement Mistakes

Use the links below to skip ahead:

  1. Basing your window choice on price
  2. Measuring the window opening wrong
  3. Ordering windows with the wrong size jamb
  4. Securing the window without making sure it is centered, level, plumb, and square
  5. Using the wrong spray foam
  6. Not following the manufacturer’s directions
  7. Ordering windows that don’t have matching profiles
  8. Installing windows at different levels
  9. Not reading company reviews before you hire a contractor
  10. Not asking about lead times before ordering your windows

Basing your window choice on price

Window prices will vary but don’t choose a window just because it’s the cheapest. There are other ways to lower the cost of your project. 

If you’ve been doing your research you will have noticed that window companies aren’t very transparent about pricing. Usually the only place you can find window pricing is on websites like Home Depot or Lowes but if you want brands not sold at Home Depot or Lowes or you want custom windows you’ll need to speak to a salesperson before getting any pricing. 

So how do you know if you’re getting a good price or getting ripped off?

The best way to get a good price on windows is to shop around for quotes, I know— it’s a bummer if you prefer to shop online or through chatbots but there is value in this. 

Here’s what you need to know about window pricing.

  1. Unless you are purchasing your windows from a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes, or buying direct from a company like Pella, your windows are going to be purchased from a window dealer.
  2. Dealers have relationships with window vendors which allows them access to more exclusive products, some receive better pricing than others.
  3. Most window dealers have salespeople like car dealerships. The salespeople usually are paid on commission so shopping around is in your best interest.
  4. Like cars, windows can be customized and the fancier the window gets the more it will cost.
  5. Some window dealers offer price-matching.
  6. Some window dealers offer installation services at an additional cost.
  7. Meeting with sales representatives from different companies gives you an opportunity to shop for a good price, good product, and a trustworthy company.

Measuring the window opening wrong

You should understand how window openings are measured before ordering new windows, this is especially important for replacement windows. Our company offers products with installation services or supply only sales. 

On supply only orders, we rely on the measurements provided by the client which is usually the homeowner or contractor. We will not double check the measure. If you or your contractor did the measure wrong there is nothing we can do to correct the mistake other than ordering another window at additional cost. A mistake like this costs time and money because you have to order additional products and installation completion is delayed.

When our sales consultants meet with clients and sell the windows with installation, they take a rough measurement to give a pricing quote. After a sale is made our installation technicians will go back out to the job site and re-measure the windows to confirm the size.

Ordering windows with the wrong size jamb

In full-frame window replacement, you are ordering windows with the jambs attached. If you are measuring and ordering your own windows be sure to consider the width of the jambs. The jamb depth is usually the same for most windows but occasionally you’ll need to take other considerations into account. The jamb may need to be wider if the finished surface of the interior wall is thicker than drywall. 

Securing the window without making sure it is centered, level, plumb, and square

In full-frame window replacement jobs, we usually pocket the window into the rough opening. The window then needs to be secured to the opening. Make sure to check that the window is centered, level, plumb, and square before securing the window, you may find that you need to add shims to get the window just right.

Using the wrong spray foam

A bad spray foam job can go one of two ways. One, the wrong foam is used or, two, the entire perimeter of the window is filled with foam. 

Use only a non-expanding foam sealant. Expanding spray foams can bow the wood jambs or eventually distort the window frame shape. We often have homeowners ask us to fill the entire cavity around a window with foam but that’s not as good of an idea as it sounds. Filling the entire perimeter with foam means water has few ways to escape. Sometimes unwelcome water makes its way down near the window and it needs to have a way out, foam can prevent this and cause water to build up where it shouldn’t. 

Not following the manufacturer’s directions

If you are installing the windows make sure to read over the manufacturer’s instructions! Yes, most window installations follow a similar process but each manufacturer also has specific requirements and best practices. To get the most value from your window follow the provided instructions. Following the instructions will also prevent voiding the warranty. 

Ordering windows that don’t have matching profiles

What does ‘ordering windows that don’t have matching profiles’ mean? Take a look at the illustration from Milgard below. 

Not all windows have the same profile widths. Choosing windows from different collections and even in the same collection but different styles, can result in windows with different profiles. This might not be a big deal for everyone but if you want clean lines throughout your home, look for windows with matching profiles.

Installing windows at different levels

In addition to matching profiles, you also want to make sure the windows are placed at appropriate levels to keep those clean lines across the home. Usually, in replacement applications, this is only a problem if you order the wrong size windows or you are unknowingly replacing replacement windows that weren’t installed correctly.

Not reading company reviews before you hire a contractor

Reading reviews is crucial, unless maybe a company is referred to you by someone you trust. Just like with products, people leave reviews of companies. Search for the company on Google, Angi, Houzz, or similar websites to see what people are saying about their experience with the companies you are vetting.

Not asking about lead times before ordering your windows

Ask everyone you meet with about lead times. A lead time is an estimated time from when the order is placed to when the product manufacturer delivers the product to its destination. With a company like ours that lead time means how much time between when the product is ordered to when it arrives to our warehouse. There is additional wait time between the product’s arrival to when we install the product or when you or your contractor will schedule a product pickup or drop off. 

We’re writing this post during the COVID-19 pandemic, so an additional warning we’ll give is do not trust someone who tells you they can get your windows ordered, delivered, and installed within six weeks. This is not realistic, pre-COVID sure this was possible. Unless you are purchasing your windows off the shelf from Home Depot, manufacturers are experiencing major setbacks delaying projects up to 4 months past original projections. If you’re thinking about ordering windows for a replacement or new construction project make sure to anticipate delays with any building materials.

Window replacement may seem simple but like ordering custom windows it is much more complex, that's why it's important to find experienced window technicians for your installation project. 


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