How to Replace a Picture Window

Picture windows allow homeowners to have a grand view of the outdoors.
Throughout the years, however, picture windows can become aged-looking and homeowners may want to replace them. Replacing picture windows can offer benefits that homeowners may not first think about, such as a savings on their heating or cooling bills. Almost a third of heated and cooled air can escape through cracks that are practically invisible, but are nonetheless there—in the caulk and around the windows. Clear, bright windows give a home a happy, sunny disposition.

Step 1

Choose a window design very similar to your current window, or you will have to make structural changes to your window openings. This article does not cover structural changes.

Step 2

Examine the window sill on the inside and outside to ensure that the window frame is sturdy. There should be no rotten or soft spots in the wood frame.

Step 3

Measure your window. There are several measurements that you will need. Measure from side to side on your window at the top, bottom, and middle. Then measure your window from top to bottom at the left, right, and center. Use these measurements to order your replacement window from your local building supply store.

Step 4

Remove the stops on the inside of your original window frame. Keep them for use with your replacement window. Take the original window out of the frame.

Step 5

Remove the sashes from the frame. Using a pry bar, pull the sash away from the frame, and then use a hammer claw to remove the nails.

Step 6

Scrape the old caulk off the frame with a paint scraper. Clean away all of the debris.

Step 7

Hammer any remaining nails down flush with the frame or pry them out.

Step 8

Place your replacement window into the empty frame to make sure that the window fits properly. Remove the replacement window from the frame.

Step 9

Insert the tube of caulk into the caulking gun with the tube nozzle pointing away from the trigger. Pull the trigger on the caulk gun to put a thin bead of caulk on the window sill and the inside edges of the outer window stops.

Step 10

Place the window in the center of the window frame.

Step 11

Use your level to ensure that the window is level and plumb.

Step 12

Measure on the diagonal from corner to corner to make sure that the window is square in the frame.

Step 13

Place the shims at the bottom and sides of the window to hold it in its proper place while you work.

Step 14

Replace the inside stops in your window frame. Use the 1 ½ inch finishing nails to install the stops. Leave the nails out about ¼ inch. When you hammer the nails into the inside stops, the nails act together with the caulking to hold the window in place.

Step 15

Set the nails using a nail setter to avoid damaging the window.

Step 16

Caulk along the edges of the window where the inside stops meet the window.

Step 17

Go outside. Caulk along the seam where the window matches the sill.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Replacement window
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer with claw
  • Paint scraper
  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Level
  • 1 ½ inch finishing nails
  • Nail setter
  • Small wedge shims

About the Author

Marsanne Petty has been a writer and photographer for over ten years, and is currently pursuing the combination in tandem. She attended Madison Community College, receiving a degree in Administration. She has published several articles for magazines, including Jack Magazine, and the local newspaper, the Jasper News. Her latest creation, a pictoral history of Hamilton County, Florida, was published in early 2009 through Arcadia Publishing.