Along with siding, windows can be installed to complete the quality external envelope while eliminating the inefficiency of the uninsulated perimeter around the window.
Of course it is much easier to install replacement windows into the original openings and this method makes a lot of companies a ton of money. This method however causes problems and leads to consumer complaints.
We advocate the ‘gutting’ of old window frames. We have adopted an approach to window replacement that stresses the ‘gutting’ of old window frames. The consistent complaint of the window replacement industry has been the cold outer perimeter, even with what is considered good installation. The window perimeter is not addressed in a standard replacement window installation.
The best approach to a complete window replacement is to consider the entire external envelope. The increase in house-wraps and underlayments on sidewalls and the tighter seals at the rough openings of the home is really a compensatory measure aimed at making up for wall systems that are inadequate. Especially because of Vinyl Siding, and the use of porous Masonry Stucco and Brick, devoid of proper watershed flashings and properties, the industry pushes to develop better underlayments to compensate for these inadequacies. Brick Veneer is often installed without proper integral flashings. Stucco has been a nightmare with its leaking issues. These sidewall applications along with the admission of the Vinyl Siding Institute that the industry standard is to accept and expect the plastic wall covering systems to leak, underlayment has been seen as the answer. These loose installations also leak in air from the outside.
The experience of the company has been that the construction industry has produced homes that have windows installed into rough openings that are inadequately insulated. A rough opening is usually one inch larger than the window units. These openings are usually inadequately insulated and easily accessible during a siding installation. The window replacement industry focuses largely on removing old window sashes and popping in new windows into old window frames. The result is a poor performance of the opening at the perimeter. A highly efficient, new window installed in this manner will actually emphasize the inadequate perimeter insulation. It will remain cold around the window in the winter. The sad part of the equasion is that this methodology is profit driven.
The best window installation includes ‘gutting’ the old window frames. Exterior weather-barriers and house-wraps should not be used in the place of good mechanical practices.