Debunking the “Standard Size” and “Quick Install” Myth

When a glass block company receives a call and the customer tells them that they have “just standard size” windows, professionals cringe.  The Professional knows that there will be a disconnect between what the customer expects, and what can be delivered and for what price it can be installed.

Sometimes window openings fit a standard, but more often than not, your windows will require some specialty work that only a professional will be prepared to with with.

Sometimes window openings fit a standard, but more often than not, your windows will require some specialty work that only a professional will be prepared to with with.

So here’s a quick checklist to better understand what makes a quick install:

  1. Are the basement walls block walls or are they poured?    Poured walls oftentimes have windows that are placed in those forms prior to the pour.  This makes getting them out very difficult and time consuming.
  2. The size you consider to be “standard” may be the size of the majority of windows your builder used, but that doesn’t mean it’s even close to standard sizing or a standard opening.
  3. What material are the current windows made from?  Wood windows are more likely to be able to be broken free.  Metal windows can be a nightmare.  We once had a job where it took a crew of two installers two full days to remove one window.  They went through multiple saw blades and had to make multiple runs to the hardware store for more.
  4.  Does your window have flanges which are buried behind concrete?  If this is the case, you definitely should expect to pay more.  Getting these out is a challenge.
  5. What era was the house built in?  If you live in a ranch style house built since the 1950’s, your windows may be approximately 32 x 14.  That’s as close to “standard” as you can get.
  6. Is the rough opening framed out with wood?  Wood windows are easier to remove.
  7. Is the window entirely below grade so that your new window can be mortared to the block?  If your window is above grade, it will be attached to wood.  The way to properly install windows above grade is with caulk on the sides as mortar will not expand or contract like caulk can.  Your installer should look at using caulk (where the window is above the concrete block) to reduce problems with expansion and contraction associated with changing temperatures and seasons.
  8. Almost all windows have differences, just as other neighborhoods have differences.
  9. Is there any rotten wood?  Point it out to your installer just in case he misses it.
  10. Does the outside of the window have aluminum trim around it?  This could get damaged.  If this is a concern, be sure that your installer can custom bend metal and has the ability to match the color as close as possible with your new window trim.
  11. Are there electrical or cable wires running through your windows?  Mortaring around these can be, but is not always, tricky.
  12. Is there a hose bib running through your window frame?  If so, the best way to deal with this is to do an inside measure where any area below or to the side of the hose bib will be filled with mortar.
  13. Is the window steel?  If so, it may have to be cut out.  If the window is extremely rusted away it may be easier to remove the window than if it is solid and especially if it was set into a poured basement wall.

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