How to Add Windows to a House

Light is touted as one of the key elements in good interior design. In generations past, natural light was prized to save on gas lamps and oil. As we are becoming more environmentally conscious, the move toward energy conservation becomes bigger every day. While there is some trade-off with heat and cold, adding windows to your home is one way of warming up cold spaces visually. It is not as daunting as it may at first seem. It only requires a little careful planning.

Things You'll Need

  • Circular or chop saw
  • Drill
  • Hammer or framing nailer and nails
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Level
  • Shims
  • Window
  • Drywall

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Finding the Perfect Spot

Choose a room and outside wall you would like to add a window to. Use a stud finder to locate the structural members and mark them. Check that there are no exterior hindrances, such as brick or stone.

Locate any plumbing or electrical utilities in the wall. If you plan to do the work yourself, it may be best to avoid walls with water and electric lines. Otherwise, consult professional help to move the utilities safely before proceeding. Mark the window out on your wall. Consult the manufacturer's specifications on the style, size and model for accurate rough opening dimensions. Make one side of your opening against an existing stud.

Build a rectangle frame with a double header -- two 2-by-6s, lying flat -- at the top, just wide enough to accommodate your window with manufacturer's recommended clearance -- typically ½ to ¾ inch. Your two sides and bottom piece should be on edge. Use 3-inch screws and wood glue in all joints.

Installing the Window

Use a reciprocating saw to cut your opening. Make your opening just large enough to accommodate the frame you'll need to set your window. Cut studs square. Remove the baseboard and crown in the section where your window is going. Cut the sheetrock and remove it from floor to ceiling to expose the framing.

Adjust your cut opening if necessary so that remaining studs are the right length for the frame to slip snugly into the wall. Use an existing stud to set one side of your rectangle frame against and add a stud on the other side, nailing into the header and footer of the wall.

Place the frame into the wall and screw into the existing stud on one side and your new stud on the other. Set your window in the opening and tack in place with one screw in a top corner of the exterior flange. Use shims -- small wooden wedges -- as needed to adjust the window plumb and level the sill.

Add two or three more screws and test for function. Make any necessary adjustments and add enough screws to fully secure the window to manufacturer's specifications. Replace the sheetrock and patch interior and exterior walls as needed before adding trim to seal in the window. Add caulk and weatherstrip for a weathertight seal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult an architect or general contractor if your window is large enough to require cutting more than one stud.


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