Replacement Windows — DIY or Hire the Pros

So, you’re ready to upgrade the hurricane protection in your home and replacement windows are at the top of the list.

Good call, friend.

Living in Tampa puts us at risk during hurricane season. Granted, we may not see even one make landfall. However, if it happens, preparation is key not only to your home surviving the onslaught.

Your family’s safety hangs in that balance as well.

Replacement windows rated for hurricane protection go through serious testing. To earn the rating, they must remain intact throughout all tests. Cracking is allowed, but the glass can not break into pieces or blow out. They add to the overall protection of your home in a big way!

Who’s handier

If you’re handy with tools and know a thing or two about construction, it may be tempting to replace your windows yourself.

Surely, you and your buddies can knock it out in record time, right?

You’ll be hitting the beach before you know it!

Before you jump head first, we have a few things for you to consider. Installing replacement windows is more involved than it appears. Hiring a professional installer may be a wiser choice.

Decisions, decisions

First things first, there are two types of replacement windows. Will you use full-frame replacement windows or go with the insert, also known as a pocket, replacement window? Knowing which is best for your home can be tricky.

Full-frame replacement windows

This option replaces the entire window unit right down to the house frame. It is necessary to use these windows if the existing frames are old and damage is evident. It is a more advanced project, so considering a professional for the job is wise.

Insert windows

An insert window only replaces the existing sashes with smaller windows that fit inside the existing frames. The frames that are currently in place must be in good shape with no evidence of damage. This project is more likely to be taken on by a DIY enthusiast.

Step by step

First off, if you aren’t someone that reads the instructions, we’re leaning more toward your hiring a pro for the job. Manufacturers provide installation guidelines and specifications. You need to adhere to them or you may be causing more harm than good.

Not to mention, rendering your guarantee useless due to improper installation techniques.

That’s a sobering thought.

Another important thought, if fractions aren’t your thing, then by all means contact a professional. Window replacement requires exact measurements. Failure to do so is asking for trouble in the long run.

Level, shims, plumb, and square

We’re going to put our take on things right now.

If you aren’t familiar with these terms, a professional is for you because they are crucial to success.

Level windows are essential. A window that doesn’t sit straight may not open and close correctly. Also, it makes it easier for insects to find their way inside your home. Not to mention that the outside elements have access, too. This can lead to significant damage to your home over time.

The process includes shimming the window to achieve the exact placement. A window shim is a thin piece of wood placed beneath or around the window to make it fit correctly. Using multiple shims is not out of the norm.

Not only must your replacement windows be perfectly level, they must be plumb. Plumb means something is straight up and down. Your windows must be parallel with the force of gravity. Failure to ensure that they are leaves you open to a host of problems down the road. Sagging corners are likely for one. This allows moisture and insects to enter at will.

The definition of square is simply that you have a 90 degree corner. However, many find such a simple concept is harder to achieve than it sounds. It’s important to succeed in this endeavor, though. Failure to do so causes problems with operation of the window and improper sealing between the sash and frame.

Flashing and moisture barriers

Both of these steps are necessary to ensure that you keep moisture out of your home. Water penetration eventually causes wood rot, mold, and eventually even structural damage.

Different water control systems exist.

  • Surface barrier systems are used on masonry, concrete, or brick homes. The window frame must be joined carefully with the surface barrier.
  • Drainage membrane systems provide a way for any water that gets behind the cladding to escape over the drainage membrane.

Window flashing installation varies depending on the type of window that you have installed.


You also want to caulk around your new windows as a final preventative measure. It repels moisture and makes the window unit as air tight as possible.

This makes your home more energy efficient. Not only does it save on your energy bills, it also helps your replacement windows pay for themselves!

Don’t flip a coin

Carefully consider your decision regarding whether or not you tackle replacing windows on your own or hire a professional.

Not only must the installation be done with perfection, removing the old windows can result in breakage. And, if ladders are involved that’s something to think about in its own right.

This job can be dangerous.

If you are inexperienced, it just isn’t the best idea to DIY this one, friend. Sure, you’ll save money now. However a poorly installed window opens you up to a host of costly problems further down the road.

Wouldn’t you rather just allow a team of pros knock it out for you?

You can rest assured that the job is completed to perfection. If an issue arises, you have guarantees in hand. Manufacturers provide a guarantee for their product and installers usually offer a guarantee of a job well done.

Not to mention the fact that you will be free to hit the beach a lot sooner.