Installing a New Window

My husband and I work a lot.  It's kind of a necessary evil in our business that if we're not doing 60 hour weeks there's something wrong.  I'm in visual effects "production", which means that I do more artist management, deal with clients, money... that kind of thing.  My husband is an artist, meaning that he actually makes those awesome images on screen, so he's in front of a computer all day (and night) long.  He's also very fortunate in that he's able to do some of his work at home, so it's important to us that he has a nice office that he can be productive in.  (That's his man space - I've got the garage.) The biggest pitfall of Brad's office has been the old, nasty, single-pane window that faces his back when he's on his computer. Not only was it an eyesore, but like just about everything else that we haven't yet replaced in our house, it was very poorly constructed. See that side of the window?  Yeah.  There's no frame all the way around the window.  There was a track on the top and bottom so that it would slide, and then whoever installed it just put a bead of caulk on the side to hold it in.  Genius.  In the summer it gets incredibly warm in that room when the sun is beating into it.  (This window faces south, so we wouldn't get direct sun, but it would kinda hover around it all day.)  So, before summer gets into full swing, we decided it was high time to replace that old, nasty window. One of the reasons I'm posting about this is because Brad and I had never installed a window ourselves before.  Honestly, we were a little intimidated by this project.  (In retrospect, I'm not really sure why.)  Replacing windows was one of the things that we spent WAY too much on when we first moved into our house almost two years ago.  (We paid about $450 per window to have a few of the necessary ones installed.)  We even got one quote to do all the windows in our one story, 1500 sq foot house for $15,000!  Isn't that just insane?  Maybe that's why we were so scared to install them ourselves.  If the labor is that expensive, it must be hard, right? Well, the answer to that question is "no way, Jose!".  Seriously, this was one of the easiest projects we've ever done.  It took us about 2 hours to do on a morning before I had to go to work.  In, out, window replaced.  I'll tell you guys about some of the tricky stuff, but overall, incredibly easy. My pictures of this project are a little bit limited... this is definitely a 2 man job.  So, having one person taking the pictures while the other one does the work was a little tricky.  But, lemme just start by saying that we followed Lowes's instructions on how to install a window from this video, and we had no problems at all.  The video is clear and concise, and there's not a lot of chatter that you have to fast forward through to get to the good stuff. Once we removed the sliding half of the window, the first (and probably the smartest thing that we did in retrospect), was tape the stationary side of the window. Since this piece of glass wasn't being held in by anything other than a bead of caulk, removing it became a mess.  But, it could've been a giant mess of little glass pieces all over everything if we hadn't taped it.
Starting to remove the caulk
The Giant Mess
See how that could've been really bad?  Yeah.  Those Lowes video people are smart cookies.  But, after a little scraping away at the caulk with a box cutter, the old ugly window was gone. So easy, right?  I couldn't believe it either. All that was left of the old window was the top and bottom track.  The video told us to put a little bit of caulk into the corners to make sure there weren't any air leaks.  We found a special caulk at Lowes that was specifically for doors and windows.  (Not sure it makes much of a difference, but being newbies at this kind of thing it made us feel better.) BTW - I totally remember this picture being in focus when I took it.  Oops.  Oh, and the second point of awesomeness regarding this picture:  don't you love my finger poking through my gloves?  I think it's time for some new ones. Anyway, we put just a smidgen of caulk in the corners of the old window track. Once that dried, we did a quick "dry fit" of the window to make sure we didn't screw anything up in the measuring process.  (Tip: take the movable side of the window out before lifting it up.  It makes it so much lighter!)  We were incredibly thankful we did this as there were a few little corners of exterior wood here and there that needed to be chiseled out before the window would fit.  After we guaranteed that the window would actually fit into place, we started the hanging process by setting the window into the opening and preparing to drill the holes. The neat thing about vinyl windows is that there's this little track system at the base that you completely lift up and out of the window.  That way, you can drill your screw holes at the bottom of the window and they're completely hidden once you put the track back in. So, with the track out and the window sitting pretty in the opening, we started to drill the holes for the screws. First, we went through and drilled our holes with a smaller bit all the way through the vinyl, and then we took a larger bit to just the outer layer of vinyl so that the head of the screw would go through the first hole and catch on the inside second hole.  The Lowes video says to use a collar as a stop for the larger bit, but we were extremely careful and found that we didn't need one as the 2 layers of vinyl were separated and we could tell when we had gone through the first layer. Once all of our holes were pre-drilled, we took the window out and put a layer of caulk around the perimeter of the window ledge. Then, we hoisted the window back onto place. In the video, it talks about having to shim the window into place if it wasn't level.  We had shims on hand, but we were very fortunate in that it was level on all sides without any extra shimming. Since we were happy with the positioning, we screwed the window into place.  This step was definitely important to have two people doing the job.  While Brad was screwing it into place, I was holding the window tight against the house.  Once it was attached, we put a quick layer of insulating foam inside all of the crevices to make sure it was sealed tight and replaced the bottom track. Ta-da!  Pretty, new, fully functioning window.  Brad went a little crazy with the insulating foam, so once it dries we need to cut off all of the extra that's coming out around the edges.  We also need to add the trim around the inside edges, but that's as easy as applying a sticker.  You just peel off the backing and stick it on.  But, see what I mean?  Piece of cake.  I have no idea why we were so intimidated by this project.  Now his office is definitely summer proof!  (That's the one great thing about LA, we don't have to "winter proof" anything, but we definitely have to keep the heat out in the summer!) Any projects you guys have taken on lately that were way easier than you thought?  Or, maybe just the opposite, like my ongoing bathtub project...?  

DIY Window Valance

Brad and I have been looking for some relatively inexpensive solar shades for our atrium windows for a really long time.  Like, since we replaced those windows last June.  (Psst... for before/after pictures of the outdoor room in the center of our house, click here.)  When we first started looking for custom sized solar shades, we were quoted about $200 per window for these beasts.  Clearly, that was not happening.  Where the major cost of them is coming from is the awkward size of these unusually large windows.  (The ones in our bedroom and Brad's office are about 45" wide by 60" tall.)  We found quite a few great options at Ikea and Bed Bath and Beyond, but none of them fit exactly to be an inside mount, which is what I really really wanted.  Oh, and I also wanted a dark grey color to coordinate with all of the different interior rooms of the house and also the exterior atrium paint.  Plus, I've been told that grey is kind of my color.

One of the naked atrium windows

So, after months of searching, and many purchases and returns of said window treatments, we found something amazing at Lowes.

20120108-224335.jpg

Woa.  Solar roller shades that they custom cut to size for you in store?  Available in dark grey?  And at only $51 for the large size?  Consider my mind blown.  I was literally bouncing up and down while the lady cut them to exactly 45 1/8" wide for us.  I think I embarrassed my husband.  But, whatevs.  He knows who he married.  Someone who gets unbelievably excited about inexpensive custom window treatments, that's who. So, we brought home our little beauties and the installation was unbelievably simple.  We literally screwed the mounting brackets into the wall and the shade slipped right into them.  Ta-da!  The windows were already looking substantially better.

But... if you look closely... those mounting brackets are pretty ugly.

We all know that a custom window valance can be pretty expensive.  Especially one made of solid wood like I wanted.  So, why buy when you can build, right?

Centsational Girl posted her DIY Window Cornice  a long time ago, and I really loved the simplicity of it.  I wanted to do something similar to hers but with a shorter "body" and different mouldings.  So, here's how I did my version.

Continue reading "DIY Window Valance"