Adding a Window: The Install

So I'm installing a brand-new window where there wasn't one before. I'd already punched into the side of the house, framed the opening, and installed the siding. I'll include all the links at the end of this post if you want to start from the beginning and need an explanation why the hell I'd be putting a window in a little girl's closet.

The rough opening was ready but it didn't go all the way into the house. The back side of the drywall, temporary insulation, and some plastic sheeting have been desperately trying to keep the raging summer heat from infiltrating into our home. The insulation and sheeting were easy enough to rip out, but the drywall would require a little more of a precision touch.

Good lord. This side of the house is ugly, eh? More to do, more to do.

I used the oscillating multi-tool to make a drywall plunge-cut, then traced it along the framing, cutting as close to the edge of the 2x4 as possible. I find this method a lot cleaner than the high-powered, devouring rage of a reciprocating saw. 

The Harbor Freight Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool

I'd like to thank one of my coolest fans for being by my side...

I love this type of tool. Mine's an inexpensive, Harbor Freight model that I think I picked up for about twenty bucks a few years ago. Somehow, inexplicably it keeps on chugging. I really thought I'd have killed it by now and picked up a higher grade, more professional quality tool, but as long as it's still slicing and dicing, I'm taking it into battle.

The Harbor Freight Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool

The drywall popped out easily. With Phoenix temperatures around 110 degrees, I can't express how pleased I was to be greeted with by a sweet blast of arctic-chilled, air conditioned goodness.

As I paused and enjoyed the enticing breeze from the inside of the house, I was jarred back to reality by the wailing sounds of despair howling from my wallet in my back pocket. It knew that cool air was a stream of cash, blasting unchecked into the desert heat and prodded me back to work.

"Break on through to the other side"

                                          - Jim Morrison

The hole needed to be sealed fast. With the size of our next electric bill on the line, I vaulted like an action hero, into the closet (minus the combat roll). I started rapidly screwing the drywall edge into my newly framed window opening, the very essence of speed. 

With the room door closed to retain  precious AC, I got my first glimpse of what the world would look like through the new window. Of course, it was the apocalyptic scene of a partially demolished swimming pool. Lovely. 

Moving back outside, I shifted to waterproofing the opening. Even though Phoenix has an annual rainfall of only about 8.03 inches a year. We've had some gully-washers dump a significant amount of that down in a matter of hours. In fact, last year there was an absolutely brutal dumping that closed the city. I needed to take sealing the window up seriously, or I'd regret it later. Summer monsoon season is on the way after all.

I reached, once again, into the magical box of samples that my friends at Echo Tape had sent me to play with a while back and extracted one of the thickest, toughest beasts of the bunch, their All Leak Repair Tape. I'd contacted them for a recommendation and this is the one they advised for the job. 

EchoTape All Leak Repair Tape for Window Flashing

Since water flows down, I started at the lowest portion of the opening and applied the tape. Each successive layer would overlap from above, like shingles. The front of the bottom edge got it first. I overlapped the front, cut the corners and folded them over, sealing the gap between the siding and framing. 

EchoTape All Leak Repair Tape for Window Flashing

This EchoTape, peel and stick stuff is tenaciously sticky; I could feel how tightly it grabbed hold as I burnished it into the wood with my hands. I really hope I don't have to peel it back up at some point.

Maybe I should have dry fitted the window before I got this far...crud. 

Confidence friends. Moving on, I reinforced the corners next with a short piece.

EchoTape All Leak Repair Tape for Window Flashing

The sides got it next, wrapped around the corners tightly and overlapping onto the bottom pieces

EchoTape All Leak Repair Tape for Window Flashing

I may have overdone it a bit, adding a second layer, deeper into the framed area. Each time, I overlapped it. a little. With the bottom sill slightly angled outward, water would have to find its way outside, right?

I placed some cedar wedges on the sill, leveled them, and taped them in place. These would keep the window slightly elevated, allowing any potential invading water to drip outwards.

Go time. I slipped the new window into place and it actually fit! I CAN read a tape measure correctly once in a while!

Nice and easy, I laid it gently into a bead of silicone caulk behind the nailing flange, leaving a couple gaps at the bottom for water to escape. 

Jack eyeballed it from the inside, so I could shimmy it slightly back and forth until there was an even gap.

Sweetness came into the fray to drive some 2 inch, galvanized roofing nails into the nailing flange. I started first in the corners then followed the manufacturer's recommended nailing pattern.


The site Superintendent soon showed up to survey the jobsite. She told the crew to quit lollygagging around and get her window the heck finished. I straightened up and scurried up the ladder to nail off the top. 

After running out of white Echo Tape, I switched to black to wrap the top. This time, I applied it from the siding onto the nailing flange of the window, covering all the nail heads and open nailing holes. 

With that, the window is in.This particular unit is a ThermaStar by Pella 10 Series Vinyl Double Pane Annealed New Construction Egress Single Hung Window (Rough Opening: 36-in x 60-in; Actual: 35.5-in x 59.5-in). 

I think they had the size we wanted in stock, but we special ordered this one with the internal mullions for about $210, delivered to our local Lowes. We're planning on all the windows being replaced eventually with this style. This one and the crummy one beside it are the only ones on the house that are double-pane, if you can believe it? Phoenix, Arizona, home of God-awful summer heat?  That's the problem with a 1979 tract home.  

ThermaStar by Pella 10 Series Vinyl Double Pane Annealed New Construction Egress Single Hung Window (Rough Opening: 36-in x 60-in; Actual: 35.5-in x 59.5-in).

Nearly done, I still wanted to get it insulated before I could quit for the day. I used expanding spray foam, designed with low pressure expansion to keep from bowing and bending window frames. 

This particular product is GREAT STUFF Window and Door Insulating Foam Sealant. . 

I would have called it "Damn Good Stuff", but that's just me.

I chose easy cleanup by wearing disposable Nitrile Gloves  (I always keep a box around for painting and messy stuff). I slowly shot a stream of the foam into the gap, all around the window. I'll trim it back later when it's dry and I'm ready to install trim.

First Person Shooter View! It's just like you are there right?

Done deal. The window looks great, what a glorious view!!! Ohhhh yeah, a sparkling backyard oasis of summertime bliss, the glorious swimming pool. Simply gorgeous. Well, soon anyway. Hopefully.

There's more to do of course. A little more more waterproofing, interior and exterior trim, caulk and paint. Then the closet itself.

Background links:

As promised, here's the preceding required reading in my non-stop, action and adventure closet remodel / adding a window series:

Update! Here's the next chapter:

 Super Easy DIY Craftsman Style Window Trim

And one more thing..

Thumb and Hammer  - Home Improvement Podcast

I was recently honored to be interviewed by Doug who runs the Thumb and Hammer blog. Give it a listen to hear about how I got started in DIY home improvement the launch of the AZ DIY Guy's Projects blog. It was a lot of fun!

Check out the mp3 here, or iTunes here. Give him a good review over on iTunes too! 

Thanks Doug!

Adding a window: Sliding on some Siding

I've resumed exterior work as my install of the added window is looming.  The special order even came in; the beautiful window is sitting calmly in the garage ready to be deployed to its new home. But first, I have to replace the siding I'd torn off, cut the opening around the new, framed window space, punch into the house, and prepare the opening to receive it.

Since I'd torn a piece of siding in half to get to the area for framing , I had to go back into demolition mode and make space for an new, full-sheet. It was back to more crow-bar and  hammer work to rip the rest of the second sheet off. Once again, I was pulling nails and picking them up from the ground of my pool-side workspace.There's no sense in finding them later in the summer, whilst barefoot, if we ever get to swim again.

Nope, still no hidden treasure trove of Civil War Confederate gold.

It's so odd seeing the house half-naked like this. The reason I'm tearing it up and adding a full sheet from the left side is to keep the spacing of the boards equal, across the back of the main wall. The lower section on the right is part of an addition by distant predecessor, the home office space. It's the room against what was once the exterior wall of our daughter's bedroom  and now blocks her original window location.

As you can see, I'm risking life and limb on this one. Not only do I have a mere razor's edge of shade available to hide myself from the ferocious Arizona summer sun's assault, I am working perched on the precipice of a cliff, above a concrete lined hole in the ground. 

I couldn't use a full size sheet as I had planned. It turned out that 4x8 sheet of T1-11 siding is several inches too tall. It would need to be cut down to size.

Can you believe that a DIY "right tool for the job" renovation mad-man such as myself doesn't own any sawhorses or portable work tables to cut on?  

I do have an empty swimming pool however. 

That'll do.

That's not an ascot I'm wearing friends, I'm trying out one of those cooling towels.

I realized I'm never smiling in my action photos. I'm just doing my thing while the camera does its thing. I'm hot and thinking about my work, too busy for pleasantries. I figure I'd finally share one where I'm really letting my personality show. 

Frankly, I think I look like an idiot when I grin like this: 

Now that's a good lookin' dude, if I may say so myself. 

Working alone can be a pain in the ass when dealing with big stuff like this. I had to somehow lift the big sheet into place (2 hands) to do some hammer and nail work (2 hands). That's four hands worth of work. It's not too heavy, it's just unwieldy. After several failed attempts, I finally made a simple lever with a Wonderbar and a 2x6. I was able to lift, hold, and slightly adjust the sheet around with one foot, just enough to get the first two nails in the sheet, holding it in place.

Die hard leverage action!

On the subject of the shoes...

I'm trying out some new Atlanta Cool work shoes my friends at Keen sent over for me to to put through their paces. These lightweight, breathable, steel-toe beauties have quickly become my summertime action worksite footwear. I've been giving them a beating for weeks and they still look great.

I used galvanized nails to attach the sheet. I don't need any more rusty nail heads around this place. As I pounded them in I almost always hit the studs. Marking their locations at the top, above the new sheet kept me mostly  on target. 

Now you know why I cut some fingertips off my left work glove. 

With the sheet partially overhanging the window opening, it was easy enough to cut it out with a reciprocating saw. I traced the blade along the 2x4 frame as a guide. It was easier than it sounds. As long as I kept an eye on it, I could stay on track. It doesn't have to be laser straight anyway , the flange and trim will cover it.

A case of reciprocate-ocity. 

I skipped across it in my last post, because I was talking specifically about the plumbing part of this project

. but I nearly forgot to put a support piece in place for the the new water line before covering it up. The Kreg Jig was the best solution for the tight space. 

No going back to the cushy ergonomic comforts of the garage workbench for this one; I did the job in the wild,

like a savage. I zipped a couple pocket holes in each end of a 2x4 with the Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig.

No workbench, no worries. 

Pocket holes worked out perfectly. I screwed the support piece in place, strapped the plumbing to it, and filled the cavity with insulation. Since it was near plumbing, I probably overkilled by using Kreg's Blue-Kote WR Pocket Screws. These 2 1/2" #8 coarse thread, washer head screws have a weather resistant coating, so why not?

I had to trim the next piece of siding for both width and height. In one of the more ridiculous moments of the day, I had to stick part of my arm out of the shadow and into direct sunlight.


A full 8 feet of straight edge got clamped down as a saw guide to cut the siding board to size. Unfortunately, I had a little wobble midway as I baby-crawled along at the side of the pool and messed up my cut. Luckily, the vertical batten will cover it when I trim out, but still, uncool.  I remember a recent post over on my blogging buddy Jeff Patterson's Home Repair Tutor site on breaking down sheet goods. I'm convinced I want to add the Kreg Rip-Cut he used to my arsonal. Jeff, I too want to start "Cutting Plywood and Breaking Down Sheet Goods like a BOSS!! " Next time perhaps.

Crawling, like a baby,... a baby with high-speed, carbide-tipped power tool.

This next part had been worrying me for days as I mulled it over in my mind. I had one sheet of siding cut to fit and I had to punch two holes in it for the new water lines. If I was off by less than an inch on either of them it would be a serious miss. The whole sheet would be wasted or I'd have to come up with some sort of half-assed, ugly MacGyver'd solution to hide it. 

I measured the heck out of it, pulling repeated dimensions from the top, bottom, left, right, a cactus, two palm trees. lunar shadows, sea-level, and a passing airliner. I transferred the measurements to the center points of where the pipes should be, muttered a prayer to the gods of DIY, and plunged in with a spade bit. 

"oh please, oh please, oh please, oh please..."

There was no way to use my Wonderbar leverage trick on this one; I had to resort to an ancient technique called  "man handling" to get the sheet into place. I can't really teach you the technique here because I can't spell the grunting sounds required. I probably shouldn't spell the muttered curse words either. I'll let the photos tell the tale.

I'm not sexist. Ladies can "manhandle" too. It may just take extra cursing.

Luckily, the stars aligned and the neighborhood airspace was spared the howls of rage that were inevitably going to be torn from my throat. The piece fit. Perfectly. 

I was never worried.


I love it when a plan comes together.

                                                                   - John "Hannibal" Smith, Colonel. The A-Team

It was easier to nail up since the plumbing held it in place. Back with the reciprocating saw again, I cut out the rest of the opening. 

A moment's pause please, if I may.

Between us, is it ok if I stop fighting the urge to call a reciprocating saw a "Sawzall". I'm using a sweet DeWalt brand saw and "Sawzall" is Milwaukee's term for its line, but dang it's a good one. Milwaukee wins. I just want to use the term it generically. It's like Johnson & Johnson's "Band-Aids" instead of "individually-packaged, perforated, personal adhesive strip bandages".

Come on, everyone just calls 'em sawzalls don't they? Can I just drop the whole pretense of being correct because I'm a "knowledgeable blogger",.. or because I "know what I'm talking about"...? I won't even capitalize it...

Back with the reciprocating saw sawzall again, I cut out the rest of the opening.

"..'cause I'm saaaaaw-zallin', ..yeah, I'm saaaaaw-zallin' "

                                                                  - Tom Petty

This post is getting long already, and it got way too hot to keep going. 

Next time friends, I'm punching through.

Update: The window goes in:  

Adding a window: The Install