Open window looking out onto the sea

How to Add a Window to a House

Adding a window to one of the exterior walls of your home can make your house feel brighter and more spacious. Working with exterior walls is something that must be done with great care, however. If the installation is not done correctly then it could lead to issues with damp and draughts, at best. At worst it could lead to serious structural problems.

If you are an experienced builder, it is possible to do the job by yourself. It is not a job that is suitable for the average DIY enthusiast, however. To avoid potentially expensive and time consuming repairs, we strongly recommend that you hire a professional to do the job for you.

How Do You Install Exterior Windows?

If you are committed to the idea of installing a new window yourself (or just interested in the process involved), then study these tips first.

This is one scenario when the mantra “measure once, cut twice” really does apply!

You will need:

  • Drywall
  • The new window (and frame)
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Shims
  • Chop saw
  • A stud finder
  • Nails
  • Level

Before you begin:

The first step is to find the right location to install the window. This may not be the “perfect” location in your mind. You should make sure that the area is free from water pipes and electrical wiring, and is located between the studs in the wall. Use a stud finder to determine the location of the studs. If you cannot find a suitable place to install the window because there are wires and pipes covering too many areas, call a professional and get their advice before starting work.

Preparing the Area

If your home has vinyl siding, remove it – carefully. The siding will be reinstalled once you have installed the area. Mark the location of the window on the exterior wall, using the dimensions given by the window manufacturer. Measure these carefully and use a level to make sure that the window is aligned properly.

Make a Frame

Make a rectangular frame with a double header. There should be a pair of 2x6s at the top, that are wide enough to give the window clearance. The joints should be connected with wood glue and three inch screws.

Cut the Wall

Cut the wall using a reciprocating saw, taking (great) care to make sure that the opening is no bigger than the frame. Take out the crown and baseboard, and cut the sheetrock at the same time.

Install the Frame

Put the frame into the window and screw it into the studs. Check to make sure the window is level, and use shims if required. Add screws and re-check the level periodically until the window is secure.

Once the window is in place, replace the sheetrock and patch the wall up. Replace the sidings, add the window trim, weather strips and caulking.

A Few Tips

Take care to ensure that the window opening is exactly the right size, and use insulation to prevent draughts. Add a generous amount of weatherproof stripping to the internal frame to prevent water ingress.

Installing a new window is a big job, and we’d like to re-iterate that it is not a standard DIY task. If you are unsure about any of the above steps, call in an expert to do the job for you – it will almost certainly save you time and money.

Looking for new windows for your home? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.

French doors with window shutters

The Benefits of Window Shutters

Window shutters are an often-overlooked form of window furnishing. Most people turn to curtains or blinds to dress their windows, but shutters can offer an attractive and quirky alternative, and they have many practical benefits, too.

Sound and Thermal Insulation

While shutters are closed, the wooden panels offer good sound insulation, and some heat insulation, too. This works both ways – in the summer, it’s possible to open the windows while keeping the panels shut, allowing air to flow while keeping the heat from the sun out.

You can achieve similar results with thick, heavy curtains if you want a more traditional look for your living room. Shutters make a good choice for a kitchen or bathroom, however, where thicker fabrics aren’t ideal. That leads us to…

Low Maintenance Requirements

Blinds and curtains can attract dust, and keeping the fabrics clean can be difficult. Plantation shutters are a good choice for people with allergies, because they are easy to keep clean. Simply wipe them down with a damp cloth from time to time and you won’t have any issues with dust build-up. When you need a fresh look, simply re-paint the shutter in a different colour!

Added Privacy

When you close a set of shutters they cover the whole window. When you adjust the louvres you can let light in, without making it easy for people to see inside your home, in a similar way to how you can let a little light in by adjusting venetian blinds. Curtains, on the other hand, are either open or closed, so unless you have net curtains behind them to filter the light, you lose all privacy when you open them.

Extra Curb Appeal

Interior shutters are a nice added-extra that could make your home more appealing to prospective buyers. They are a more ‘semi-permanent’ fixture than curtains or blinds, however, and this could backfire if the prospective buyer doesn’t like them. That said, it’s relatively easy to remove a set of shutters and replace them with blinds or curtains if that’s what the buyer prefers, and you can remind them of this.

UV Protection

Shutters with louvres can be angled to control how much light gets into the room – in much the same way that blinds can be angled. When you want to let light flood into the room, the panels can be fully opened. Adjusting the louvres can direct light away from furniture and flooring, prolonging the life of the furniture and preventing patterns from fading.

Many shutters are finished with a UV-protective layer, which will protect the paint or wood stain finish, and stop the panels from warping.

Shutters are timeless, and are a stylish and eye-catching window treatment. They may not suit every room, but there is a certain appeal to having them on the ground floor – especially for kitchens, and “the den”. If you like the soft and elegant look of curtains, don’t forget that you can use tie backs as a trim around your shutters, to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Coloured timber windows

How to Measure Up for Replacement Windows

If you are looking to improve your home’s energy efficiency, or just give it a fresh new look, installing new windows can be quicker and easier than you might think. Ready-to-install replacement windows are easy to work with. The most important thing is that you pick the right size.

How Do You Measure Your Windows?

Before you buy new window kits, you need to check the size of your windows. The size of the replacement unit is based on the dimensions of the existing window frame. To measure the frame, start with the width:

  • Measure the inside of the old frame – from jamb to jamb.
  • Collect this measurement in three places – across the very bottom, across the top, and at the middle of the frame.
  • Note down the smallest of those three measurements.

Next, measure the height:

  • Take the height from the top of the sill to the underside of the head jamb.
  • Again, you will need three measurements – one at the left jamb, one at the right jamb, and one in the middle of the window.
  • Note down the smallest measurement.

Finally, check the squareness of the frame:

  • Measure the diagonals from corner to corner – both ways.

The two diagonals should be the same. If they differ by one quarter of an inch or less, then the replacement window can be shimmed to fit the opening. If they differ by more than that, then the frame may require adjustments and this is a more specialist job. You could need a full-frame replacement for your new window.

Measure the Sill

The final job is to use an angle-measuring tool to calculate the slope of the sill. Some frame replacements offer a choice of sill angles.

It is vital that the replacement windows are the right size for the opening, so check your measurements carefully before you buy a new frame!

Looking for new windows for your home? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.

FENSA registered company logo

What Is FENSA (and What Does It Do?)

FENSA is the Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme. The scheme was set up by the Glass and Glazing Federation, in partnership with some other industry bodies, after the government launched the new Building Regulations for double glazing companies.

When you buy new windows, doors or roof lights for your home, you are required to make sure that the replacements comply with current thermal performance standards and Building Regulations. This means that you need to get a certificate stating that the windows are compliant. This certificate must be issued by a Competent Person scheme, and FENSA is the most common authority for this (Local Authority Building Control representatives can also issue the certificates).

An Industry Standard

FENSA is the industry standard for self-certification of compliance with the Building Regulations. While there are other options for certification, purchasing a product that bears the FENSA logo and having a FENSA installer do the job is the most convenient option because it means that you don’t have to register the new window or door installation with the local authority yourself. This means that it could save you a lot of time, and hundreds of pounds, too.

There are thousands of companies that have joined the FENSA scheme across England and Wales, and FENSA re-assesses their installers on a regular basis to ensure that they are always working to a high standard. If you choose a FENSA-approved installer to fit new windows for you, then after the job is done you have the option to rate the installers via a feedback form – that feedback is taken into account as a part of the assessment process, so you can be confident that any installer you hire has had consistently good feedback.

Insurance Backed Guarantees and Deposit Protection

Getting new windows installed can be expensive work. FENSA installers are required to have a number of protections in place to take care of their customers, including an insurance backed guarantee on all replacements and doors. If you pay a deposit on the work, then the deposit must be protected by an indemnity scheme or some other form of protection.

Certified Compliance

After the work is done, you should be given a certificate to prove that the work complies with building regulations. You should keep this certificate because you will need it if you decide to sell your property. If you lose the certificate, it is possible to re-order it via the FENSA website.

If you are installing windows yourself, then you will need to get a certificate issued by the local authority. If you use an installer that is not FENSA registered, then they will need to get a certificate either through the local authority or through a different issuing body. The penalties for failure to comply with building regulations are severe, so do not simply take it on faith that a contractor is able to self-certify. Confirm what trade body they are a member of, and be sure to get a copy of the certificate once the work is done.

Looking for new windows for your home? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.