Saturday, October 25, 2014

Replacing Basement Windows

Note: I had trouble finding a really detailed tutorial on replacing basement windows when researching for this project. I found absolutely nada on finishing the exterior of the window. So I am here to fill that void. Thus, this is going to be a long post!

We knew since the moment we laid eyes on these beauties that they needed to be taken to the window graveyard.

The view got even better when we moved the dryer vent and were left with this oh-so attractive and secure duct taped opening.

There are five of these windows in total in the basement and two of them will be in the finished area. We had gotten quotes from some window installers on replacing them all that came in from $2,000 - $5,000. Needless to say, we weren't thrilled with that price, but we knew that removing these old windows would be a tremendous headache.

Then one day, I was feeling wild and crazy and decided to look online and see if I could find any information on how to remove a window of this style. I found quite a few videos and they all made it look very simple, as online videos tend to do. But then I realized something that completely changed my view on the whole project.

Running across the top of each window is a metal bar that extends into the brick mortar on each side. I had assumed this this was part of the window and that it would destroy the brick when it was removed. I am here to tell you today that THIS IS NOT PART OF THE WINDOW. I cannot express how excited I was when I took a long look at the window and realized that. I got online again and found that Home Depot carried a window in the size we needed for $80. I immediately texted David and told him the good news. He was on board with trying our hand at window replacement.

We had planned to wait until the weekend to get started but we were both so excited that we dove in when we got home from work Friday night. We only bought one window at first in case we totally botched the whole thing. As you can tell, we were very confident going into this project.

We started out by tilting out the opening part of the window and sliding it out of the frame. That thing was HEAVY. Then we were left with the steel frame.

It was poured into the concrete around the window.

David made a cut straight through the frame on each side with his reciprocating saw.

Then he used a hammer, chisel, and pry bar to remove it. It literally took about 15 minutes. I was so excited. He used his chisel to break away any chunks of concrete that were left behind.

Then we were left with this nice clean opening.

We sat the window in place. The top to bottom fit was perfect, but it was a little wide. We spent quite some time trying to find a piece of wood that would be the right width to fill the gaps and were unsuccessful, so we retired to the upstairs for the night and perused Lowe's website. We found that a standard fence picket was going to be just what we needed AND they were only $1.18 each. Score.

We picked a couple up the next day, cut them to length and set them on each side. It was a perfect fit. So David screwed them into place with concrete anchors, while I sat outside to make sure they stayed flush with the front of the window.

Once those were in place, we wrapped some self adhesive vinyl flashing over the front of the board and onto the brick.

Then I attached the vinyl lattice strip we had picked up with the wood pickets with a nail gun. We added this trim piece to cover the wood spacers and make everything look more seamless. I used a utility knife to cut off the excess flashing on the brick.

Then I ran a "generous bead" of caulk around the sides and bottom of the opening, per the window instructions, and slid the window into place, making sure to smoosh it into the caulk.

I checked outside to make sure everything was looking good, while David shimmed the window from inside.

We made sure the window was straight and level, then David screwed the window into place with concrete anchors and broke off the excess part of the shims.

We filled the inside gaps with Window & Door Great Stuff (don't get the regular kind, it will bow the window), then cut off the excess once it was dry. This is as finished as the inside will look until we get walls and drywall put up.

But check out the exterior! All the outside seams got covered with silicone caulk. After everything had a few days to dry, we blasted the window with the hose for a good minute or so. It was way more water than would ever hit this window, but we wanted to be sure everything was water tight.

We have finished both windows that will be in the finished area of the basement and are soooo happy with how much less murder-y they look.

After this whole basement fiasco is finished, we plan to refinance the house, which means we will be getting an appraisal done. So in between working away in the basement, we have also been sprucing up the rest of the house so it looks as good as possible, and we get a nice high number on our appraisal. If you notice in the picture above, I painted the window ledges on all the windows.

I think it really makes the house look much nicer, and it only took me a couple hours (with Tater's help!).

So to anyone out there thinking about replacing their basement windows themselves, I say go for it! If we had known it would be this easy, we would have done it a long time ago. Not to mention the thousands of dollars we saved by doing it ourselves! Woo hoo!

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