Work continues on the attic floor joists, but I had a whole day of above freezing weather on Sunday and put the first window in upstairs. I decided the easiest window to start with was the single window on the front of the house, rather than tackle the bay windows or one of the side windows that doesn’t have the convenient porch roof as a platform. Like the first floor, the windows in the second floor require a bit more effort than just removing the old and installing the new. Because our house is balloon framed, the existing windows are basically just attached to the sheathing with no studs involved. Since we’re putting two inches of rigid foam insulation on the outside of the sheathing, we need something a bit more substantial to attach the window and have it extend out two inches from the face of the house and bring it flush with the insulation.

Removing the old window took no tools and almost no time. The handful of nails in mostly rotted wood were reinforced by some caulk. I basically took the whole thing in two hands and ripped it out of the wall like a comic book villain takes a safe door from a bank. This window is directly above the first floor front door, so I had a nice level header to put things onto. I started by measuring to the center and then working from the stud on the left side. Technically it’s not exactly centered by about an inch, but I wasn’t about to remove the existing stud to shift it over. I added a jack stud, but discovered that the existing stud isn’t plumb. This is an example of how I’ve gotten better at working on my old house over the years, because in the first floor I actually wound up framing the whole opening and trying to fit in the window before I realized the existing walls weren’t square.


I shimmed the jack stud to get it straight, then continued with another full stud and jack stud on the other side. I built a foam-sandwich 2×6 header and put that above, then put in a sill and fit in cripples above and below. The next step was filling in sheathing, since the new window is a bit shorter than the old one. We’re lowering the second floor ceiling from 10′ to 9′ in order to gain more space in the attic, and I wanted the bottom high enough we can still put furniture in front of the window, so the new window is 60″ tall rather than 72″ or 80″ or whatever the old one is. With the wall re-framed, next I had to build the plywood extension, which extends from the inner edge of the wall to 2″ past the sheathing. Since it’s been a while since I’ve done a window like this (over four years), I forgot to add an extra ¼” to the extension so it actually comes flush to the foam, but it’s passable and I’ll remember that on the other seven windows.

After that I removed a bit of the remaining wood siding up to the top of the second floor so I could put on house wrap. I had to run to the store and buy a new roll, so I picked up the 9′ stuff, which was interesting to do on a ladder by myself, but I got it stapled up and everything turned out fine. I wrapped the extension as well, so water should be channeled out everywhere. I used the 3M All Weather tape this time for the house wrap seams instead of Tyvek tape and that stuff is awesome. I’m also using Zip System tape for the four-inch sections instead of WeatherMate tape going forward.

Installing house wrap

The next step was foam, and by this time it was dark (it is December) but there’s enough light from the street lights to keep going, especially since I try to never leave gaping holes in the house overnight. I picked up the 1″ thick polyiso and doubled it up again. One day I’ll special order the 2″ stuff, but that’ll wait until I’m ready to do the rest of the house and can find room for an 8′ cube of foam. I taped that up with the aforementioned 3M All Weather tape, the split-down-the-middle peel off backing makes it really easy to line it up correctly. I also put in the sill pan and taped that in as well.

Installed (also Derek)

Finally, I was ready for the window. I attached the brackets (they neglected to add the nailing fins I requested to the order), and lifted it into place. Those brackets are every bit as much of a pain to attach as I remember. I always worry I’m going to snap the fiberglass track. By the time I screwed everything into place it was close to 7:30. Not our latest window install, but not great. I’ll come back and put on the Zip tape and spray foam it later. As it is, the holes in the house are much smaller than they were with the old window. I’ve got seven more windows and a door to go, but seeing as it takes a full day to do one, they’ll have to wait for weekends. In the meantime I’ll keep working on the attic joists.


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