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DIY Window Replacement: Myths, Misconceptions, and Risks

August 23rd, 2021 | 8 min. read

DIY Window Replacement: Myths, Misconceptions, and Risks

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When you search “how to replace a window” on the internet, dozens and dozens of articles and videos pop up with DIY tutorials. They make it look so easy, so tempting, don’t they? 

All of these resources tell you, “Look how simple this is. Anyone can do it. You will save so much money.” Well, we’re here to refute all of those claims. 

The truth is, when you’re looking to replace or repair your window, you should never do it yourself. Even the most experienced handyman knows not to mess with an open frame in a home. 

While DIY-ing a window replacement may save you money in the moment, it will cost you more in the long run. A proper window installation requires expertise most household craftsman do not have, which is why we would not advise anyone to replace their own window. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a San Antonio window replacement contractor for over 30 years. We know the importance of a high-quality project, which is why we strive to provide you with the best products, services, and installation for your window replacement. 

We know that a window replacement is not cheap. Spending thousands of dollars at once on some new windows isn’t the most appetizing cookie to swallow for many homeowners. 

Even if you think you can YouTube and Google your way through a window replacement, this article is going to explain why you shouldn’t. We will address the most common reasons homeowners want to DIY a window replacement and outline the risks that come with it. 

After reading, you will know what is at stake when replacing a window and have a better understanding of the potential threat a DIY window replacement can cause to your home. 

Reasons why you might consider a DIY window replacement? Analyzing and debunking the benefits

Let’s break down the two most common reasons a homeowner might replace their window and debunk the beneficial myths. 

Myth #1: Replacing my window will save me so much money

The most common reason a homeowner might want to replace their own window is how appealing the cost is. 

It’s no secret the cost of a window replacement project is steep. You must find a local contractor that offers the type of window you like and pay installation and labor costs. 

It is true that it is less expensive to go to a local hardware chain, buy a replacement window and supplies, and perform the labor yourself. However, the initial cost is not the only factor to consider for a window replacement. 

When replacing a window, you must think about the quality of the material, installation, and warranty that comes with it. If a window is not installed properly, it will not last as long as it should. 

Replacing a window is a craft, and even if you think you have the skillset to replace your window, several items can go wrong. 

If you experience problems with the window you installed yourself, who will service the warranty? You. This will only cost you more time and money. 

Cost may be the only item you are looking at for a window replacement, but you must think about the money it will cost you in the near future when that window fails. 

If paying the lowest amount you can for a window replacement is most important to you, then you must know that you will not get the highest quality product or installation whether you install the window yourself or hire a low-priced contractor. 

Myth #2: I can provide a high-quality window replacement

The second misconception that homeowners might have to replace their own window is that they are qualified enough. All of these blog posts, videos, and step-by-step guides do a great job of showing you how easy it is to replace your window and that almost anyone can do it. 

Now, we’re not here to question your craftsmanship skills. We’re here to deliver the truth. 

No matter how skilled you may be as a builder, carpenter, or car mechanic, you should never mess with the construction of any opening in your home. Even the most experienced builder knows not to construct on any opening in their home. 

This is because when you remove any window or door in your home, you are left with an exposed frame. If this exposed frame is then not sealed properly with the new window or door, a number of problems can threaten the foundation of your home. 

Whether you are considering replacing your own window to save money or prove your construction skills, you must understand the likelihood of complications that come with it. 

What are the risks of a DIY window replacement?

Even if you work for a window replacement company, a DIY window replacement is a project you should never take on your own. 

While it may save you a few hundred bucks on the spot, the risks of replacing your own window will cause you to spend more money to have it fixed or replaced in the future. 

The two major issues you risk causing when replacing your own window are water infiltration to the frame and compromising the operability of the window. Both of these risks come from an improper installation. 

Risk #1: Water infiltration to the frame

The number one risk you take when replacing your own window is water infiltration into the frame around the window and into your home. 

When you remove a window, this leaves the interior of the frame exposed. The new window must be fitted properly to the window opening and sealed correctly to protect that interior. 

Over time, the foundation of a home shifts with the earth. This causes the square of any window frame to shift slightly as well. High-quality professional contractors take exact measurements of each window opening to be replaced. 

The top and bottom width of a window opening can differ by sixteenths of an inch. While this may not seem significant, it matters to replace that window opening with the right-sized window with the custom measurements. 

When you replace your own window, chances are you buy a window from a hardware supply chain. These windows are perfectly square and exact, while your window frame is not. 

A window that does not exactly fit the square of the frame leaves room for small gaps that must be filled then with foam or caulk. This does not provide the proper seal for that opening. 

When a window is not fit and sealed properly, the greatest risk you gamble is allowing water to get into those cracks and infiltrate the frame. 

Depending on the severity of the gaps and cracks, this can pose a serious threat to the rest of your home. Not only do you risk having the window frame collect water and rotting out, but you risk water traveling through your home’s frame and compromising the integrity of the frame. 

This is because when water gets through any small crack or gap around a window, it will either absorb into the surrounding wood or travel with gravity until settling into a puddle. 

Excess moisture in wood causes the wood to decay and deteriorate or rot. This makes the frame weak, and if it goes untreated, you will probably have to hire a carpenter to replace the entire frame, costing you more money than anticipated when you decided to replace your own window. 

To sum all that information up, water infiltration and rot is the biggest threat you impose on your home if you decide to replace your own window. If any rot occurs, it will cause significant damage to the window, frame, and home. 

This is why the quality of a window installation is just as important as the quality of the window. Hiring a professional contractor to do the job for you will save you the anxiety of possible water leakage and rot. 

Risk #2: The window will not operate properly 

To further dive into the importance of a quality window installation, the second most common risk you take with a DIY project is that it will not operate properly. 

Like with the risk of rot, this risk stems from an improper installation. There are several symptoms that a window will not work properly if it is not installed right. 

If not installed properly square or fit in the window opening, the operability of opening and closing the window will be limited. 

Part of the operability of a window is also its insulating properties. This ties into the risk of water infiltration and rot. 

If the window is not installed properly square and caulked and sealed correctly, not only can water seep through the edges, but air can move freely from the inside to the outside. 

Typically when upgrading a window, you are looking to fix problems like feeling drafts, noticing water buildup, or deteriorating caulk. 

If you decide to replace your own window, the probability of experiencing these issues soon after installation is high. This will cause you to need a professional to replace or repair your window, costing you more money. 

Knowing the top risks you take with a DIY window replacement are necessary to understand what you have to lose and why you just shouldn’t do it. 

Why you must choose a high-quality contractor for your window replacement 

Deciding to hire a professional, high-quality window replacement contractor for your project can be intimidating. The idea of spending thousands of dollars at once for an upgrade in your home will make most people wince. 

Whether you are experiencing problems with your windows or just looking for an upgrade, you must have realistic expectations and priorities for your project. 

If paying the lowest amount you can for a window replacement is most important to you, then you must know that you will not get the highest quality product or installation whether you install the window yourself or hire a low-priced contractor. 

A DIY or low-quality window replacement will cost less upfront, and many get blinded and tempted by this low cost. However, knowing the problems that come with installing a window yourself are necessary to understand the risks you take and that they are not worth it. 

The problems that come with a DIY window installation will cost you more in the long run. 

Southwest Exteriors knows the issues that come with a DIY window replacement because we’ve seen it. While we are here to offer our high-quality window replacement services and fix your problems, we want to educate you on the risks of a DIY window replacement above all else. 

We know that we are not the right contractor for every homeowner, but we want to be a resource for you to learn everything you need to know to make the best decision for you. 

Are you ready to find the right window replacement contractor for you? Check out this article that outlines six questions to ask a contractor to help you find the right one.