Replacment windows
July 21, 2008 5:08 PM   Subscribe

We have 2 windows that need to be replaced because they leak (cold air comes through easily during the winter). I don't know what to replace them with. The difficulty is that they are 'custom' and installed in 2 ft thick adobe wall, so I just can't a buy a casement window and install it. With current windows, the carpenter made the window box and frame and separately bought cranks and installed them. Even so, I don't really like cranks like this. Any suggestions? Inside dimensions are 12" x 46" Photos here
posted by allelopath to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
The windows aren't custom, but they are an odd ball size and shape of the type that you're unlikely to find on the shelf at your local home improvement store. Still, if you sit down with someone at a window store (or the window section of Home Depot) you'll find those windows, or a suitable replacement, in a catalog.

Installing replacements may be a little complicated because of the wall construction, then again it may actually be easier... really have no idea. Check with your window sales person.

Lastly, if the windows are mostly sound (no rot, cracks, etc) then it may be possible to freshen up the hardware, clean the windows up, strip, stain & paint, install new weather seals and cauk with the results being almost, but not quite as good as new windows. If the windows are single pane I'd probably just replace them if your budget permits.
posted by wfrgms at 5:23 PM on July 21, 2008

How do you feel about glass block?
posted by hortense at 6:31 PM on July 21, 2008

We recently had all the windows in our 1950's Cape Cod replaced by Pella. No it wasn't cheap, but we had really leaky windows that were of 'non-standard' sizes just like you.

They measured everything to size, and even modified one window 'hole' to make it bigger so that we would have symmetrical window sizes across the front of the house.

Point is, I think just about any window company will make you windows sized to fit. It's worth the investment, both in (eventual) resale value, quality of construction, and reduced energy bills - not to mention a reduction in the 'pain in the ass' factor of trying to do it yourself.

Good luck!
posted by matty at 7:26 PM on July 21, 2008

My recommendation would be to order the custom size you need and reuse/build a wood box -- installing the new units in much the same fashion as the existing. I completed a similar replacement in a sold masonry wall where I could not ensure adequate anchorage of a new unit. The box allows for a better base for the window and the box is easier to install in the existing masonry.

If your leak though is nothing more than air, why not refresh the existing windows and then add a storm unit on the inside of the existing box? This need only be a single pane of glass (which can be cut locally) and building a custom frame and clip system for a storm window is not difficult.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:04 AM on July 22, 2008

On adobe, the easy way is to leave part of the old frame on to attach your new window (and that will usually be a metal or vinyl framed window), and cover up this area with trim or stucco. Be careful not to stucco over the drainage hole in the window track of an operable window.

The harder way is to rip out the whole thing and install the new window right in the wall. Window openings in adobe generally have some sort of framing in the area of the window. Traditionally there is a wood beam over the window, and possibly along the sides and/or bottom, but I´ve also seen concrete. You would need to somehow attach the window to this, and then stucco over whatever you did in this process.

You can order a window at the store in any size you like, and that will be a custom window. Custom sizes are more expensive than the standard sizes that are in stock at larger stores, but they are something that you can just go buy. You can get a window with a panel that slides or a non-operable window if you don´t like the cranks.
posted by yohko at 9:55 AM on July 22, 2008

This didn´t occur to me at first, but you could also take the old window off the outside and put the new window within the framed windowsill area, inside of where the window currently is. You would need to add some sort of framing to keep it in place, then do something with the wood that ends up on the outside to protect it from the weather, such as stucco over it or paint with exterior paint.
posted by yohko at 11:24 AM on July 22, 2008

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