“Bulletproof” Windows

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The EHT staff recently participated in a window replacement project where old, rotted wooden windows were removed and replaced with energy-efficient vinyl units from Simonton Windows. The new units not only look great, but the Low-E double-paned, gas-filled design will significantly reduce heat transfer to save on energy bills. Plus, the vinyl construction won’t require constant repainting, glazing or other associated maintenance.

When it comes to maintenance, wooden windows require a lot. If the windows aren’t maintained with glazing, caulking and exterior-grade paint, the wood will rot. That’s what happened to the large bay window on this project house. The lack of overhang above the window meant that the sill was taking the full brunt of wind-driven rain. The sill rotted to the point that it could no longer support the considerable weight of the heavy glass panes. The bay window actually sunk down into the rotted wood and opened a sizable gap at the top of the frame, allowing significant airflow in and out of the home.

The solution was to remove the old window, rebuild the sill plate, then replace with a new vinyl unit. As a belt-and-suspenders approach to protecting the wood surrounding the new windows, the installers at Lifetime Windows & Doors “wrapped” the house trim with aluminum casing that was custom-fabricated on-site using a sheet-metal brake. The specialized equipment and required metal-crafting skills probably push this latter phase of the window project outside the realm of most do-it-yourselfers, but this method of weather protection does show another option that homeowners can consider when making renovations. Check it out:

There is severe wood rot at the window sill.


See that big gap? That ain’t good.


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Out with the old.


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Remove the rotted wood.


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Install new window sill.


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Aluminum trim is fabricated on-site using a sheet metal brake.


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Aluminum is shaped to wrap wooden sill plate and fastened in place prior to window installation.


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The new Simonton vinyl window is installed.


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Once the window is installed the side pieces of aluminum trim come next.


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The top piece of aluminum trim is installed last to shed water away from the window.


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The window and trim were sealed with quality exterior-grade sealant.


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Here is the finished product: New window plus “wrap.”

— M. Weber

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