How to Install New Windows
Adding a new window to your home can be tricky. We'll help you get started.
Installing a new window where there wasn't one before is a major remodeling project. However, the job is within the abilities of almost any homeowner with good carpentry skills. The exact installation instructions depend on the size and type of window, but each window will need to be framed, installed, and sealed. We'll walk you through the basic process then offer tips for specific types of windows and frames.
Placing a New Window
Start by deciding the style and location of the window. A new window can enhance the appearance of a home's exterior as long as it complements the other windows. Sizing and properly placing windows calls for making aesthetic and design decisions as well as some structural determinations. This placement depends on the room, the architecture of your home, and which direction your exterior walls face. We'll offer pointers for placing your new window, plus we'll explain the optimal heights for hanging windows.
Get the Full Instructions for Placing a New Window Here
Planning the Window's Framing
When framing for a new window, you have three main options. You can use existing king studs, you can use a mix of king and jack studs, or you can install new king studs. The choice depends on your home's design and local building codes. We'll walk you through all three options to help you make the right decision.
Framing for a New Window
Preparing the opening in the wall for a new window is the toughest part of the job. Actually installing the window—setting the unit in place, shimming it level and plumb, and attaching it to the wall—is a relatively quick and easy job. An important part of planning is to determine whether wiring, plumbing, or ductwork runs through the new window location. If so, you may need to hire a plumber, electrician, or heating expert to move the lines. Sometimes you will need to change the window location.
If the new window is wider than 3 feet, make plans to temporarily support the wall load until you install a header. Otherwise you might seriously damage your home's framing. You will cut through the interior wall surface to expose the framing. Once you have altered the framing to make an opening for the window, you can cut the opening in the outside wall.
Supporting the Ceiling
If you're installing a wide window—3 feet or wider, to be exact—you'll need to remove more than one wall stud. To prevent the ceiling from sagging while you frame the new window, you'll need to create a support. We'll show you how to build a temporary support and properly put it into place.
Installing the Window
When installing a window, you'll need to make amendments based on the type of window and the location you choose. Look for a method for sealing the opening that suits your area and take steps to ensure rainwater cannot infiltrate.
Finishing the exterior and interior walls can also take a good deal of time. If you order a simple window with jamb width that matches your wall thickness, completing the job is usually just a matter of adding the casing and other trim. If the fit is not exact, you may need to custom-make trim to fit.
Installing a Wood Window
For a classic look, opt for a wood window. Most wood windows have no nailing flange, and many have brick molding. Installation is fairly simple—just make sure to specify the correct jamb size when ordering. Also make sure to check with your building department to find which method of window wrapping is preferred. We'll walk through these requirements, plus explain how to install a wood window, in our tutorial.
Installing a Flanged Window
Unlike wood windows, most metal and vinyl windows have a flange that attaches to the house. This nailing fin calls for a slightly different installation process. You can learn how to install a flanged window in only 8 steps and a few hours' time.
Installing a Bay Window
Bay windows are similar to flanged windows, but with a few key differences. For one thing, some units require extra support from above or below. You'll also need to consider the top and bottom of the window. Some roofs can be bought ready-made, while others may need to be custom-built. We'll walk you through the entire installation process in our how-to guide.
Installing a Round Window
Installing a round, octagonal, oval, or half-round window may seem like a challenge. But realistically it's not much more difficult than installing a standard rectangular window. The trick is to properly sheath and seal the window. We'll show you everything you need to know to install a round window, including framing, installing, and adding finishing touches.
Installing a Skylight
Skylights can help a dark space feel more light and airy. We have tips for installing both a standard skylight and a tube skylight. Both projects are a bit more difficult than installing a standard window, but the ambient result is well worth it.
More Window Tips and Tricks
In addition to framing and installing windows, you may need to trim or insulate your handiwork. The following resources will help you add the finishing touches to your new window and make the project last for decades. We have tips for standard windows as well as bay windows.
Trimming a Window
Trimming the window is one of the last installation steps you'll take. Before you start, make sure the surrounding walls are properly drywalled and painted. Also, if you plan to stain the trim, do so before installing it. Standard trim can be installed in two hours or so, but you may need more time for complicated situations.
Trimming a Window with Picture Frame Casing
Picture frame casing looks just as it sounds. It frames your window with pretty trimwork. Installation is no more difficult than standard trim and will take roughly two hours for basic picture frame trim. The trick is to attach all four trim pieces together, and then install the unit as a whole.
Trimming a Bay Window
Bay windows add architectural interest to your home, but they often require a little extra work. To trim a bay window, you'll need to add fascia to the skirt, complete the seat, insulate the jambs, and more. Our how-to guide will help you through the entire process.
Insulating a Bay Window
Since they jut out from the side of your home, bay windows need insulation in addition to trim. You'll need to add sheathing, flashing, and roofing to the frame. Plus, some bay windows require a little extra support in the form of knee braces. The task sounds daunting, but we've broken the process down into a few easy-to-follow steps.