Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The carriage house has a total of six windows, all 54" high. They are in varying states of repair, but basically, except for one, they're total losses. Here, you see one of the front windows, which has been boarded up, in its naked state. There's no window there.

And sure, they could be fixed. But look at them -- they're nothing special. The big windows in the big house, I'm not replacing those; they're fabulous. But these? There's just no reason to work hard to keep them.

And fortunately, Pella makes vinyl inserts for existing wooden frame double-hung windows. You remove the sash (or, as with this window, you buy it preremoved), and stick the new window into the hole, shim it, screw it down, and caulk it. It takes about an hour, according to the brochure.

So. The bedroom window is 36"x54". Standard, $166. These two are 30"x54", which is not standard, but as you can see, there's just window frame between the two of them. There is a 32"x54" standard window. I'm just going to put a board between two of those for the front window here, after removing the intermediate framing post there. I forget the exact price of the 32"x54" insert. The other three (hallway, kitchen, and bathroom) are all 28.5"x54", which neatly fits the standard 28"x54" given a little quarter-inch board on each side. I believe those cost $116 per. So we're talking about maybe $800 and two days' work to replace all the windows here in the carriage house.

That is hereby the plan.


  1. You might want to be sure that a header goes all the way across the opening for the two windows, and that they aren't simply two separate headers...if they are the latter, you'll need to replace the two headers with a single one to go across the span, I think.

  2. Hmm. I see what you mean, I think. If the board on top of each half of the window isn't long enough to project over my new, narrower board in the middle, there's nothing holding up the top of the frame.

    Well, I guess I won't know that until I take that middle frame bit off and see what's behind it. I'll post it here, you can be sure!

    I think I might start with the bedroom window, though. It's easy, it's got no glass in the lower sash and thus obviously needs replacement, and it's already a standard size. So it's a good practice piece. Then, once I've got that under my belt, I'll look at these front windows again.

    (But actually, I'll probably take that bit of frame off tomorrow, just to see what's under there.)

  3. Yeah, what you're really concerned about is taking the load from the roof down to the ground. Where you break a stud wall for windows and doors, you need a header to transfer that load to reinforced studs on either side of the opening. The longer the span, though, the larger the header has to be. I'm sure you've seen diagrams of stick framing before, but google "stick framing diagram" and look at the first link (blogspot doesn't allow pasting? Weird) to see an illustration. There's lots of good information out there if you want to read a little theory and practice.

  4. Incidentally, if the header doesn't go all the way across, the easiest solution would be to go to the next narrower window sizes to fit the openings, assuming they aren't a full foot narrower or something equally awful. Messing around with changing out headers, etc., should be engineered and you have to support the roof with temporary supports as you do it...worth it on a major remodel, but on something quick-and-dirty, probably not so much.

  5. OOooh, now I see what you mean; it's not a question of window stability, but wall stability. I just looked -- the header goes all the way across.

    It's brick, by the way. No framing involved at all -- but it's all the more essential to make sure it's well-supported.

    The original carriage house post (here, and that pasted fine for me, by the way) shows the front windows, but the Visqueen "storm windows" on them obscure the header in that picture. But by taking my life in my hands and leaning out, I can see it. It's continuous.

    Thanks for the pointer! I hadn't even considered that! (This is why intense Internet involvement is OSHA-required for all amateur renovation projects.)

  6. You're welcome, though I am strictly an amateur like you. Out here in Seattle, "brick" houses are almost exclusively "brick veneer" houses, which is to say that the bricks stacked up around the outside are there as decoration but don't actually carry any structural load (4" thick paint is the way to think of them). In an actual brick building it makes complete sense to run that header all the way across both windows, so carry on! Good work, by the way.