Rotten window frames, single-glazed glass or frames with little or no insulation all indicate it's time to replace your windows. A scaffold tower is the most common and most recommended resource when renewing your windows. With large components and a range of tools, making sure you have a solid working platform is crucial to ensure your safety, and also to be able to be more efficient in your job.
The government recommends that when someone is using a scaffold tower when you're working at height, and construction industry standards echo the government. Why should a DIYer put him- or herself at greater risk than the professionals?
Scaffold towers are surprisingly easy to put up, although they take longer than ladders, you cannot put a timescale on safety. To reach windows in a two-storey house, you should use a 5.2 metre scaffold tower.
Much of what is said online about only being able to replace and finish a window from the inside is somewhat nonsense, yes it is true that the majority of the job can be done from the inside, but the outside also needs replacing and treating otherwise it would look odd.
When replacing old windows, what do you want to do with the old window, take it straight outside to take to the dumpsite? Or would you rather take it outside, and then drag it inside to the back garden only to have to take it to the front again to dispose of it? So why would go to the effort of dragging it into your home only to drag it through several rooms to get it back outside again? How does hauling an old window out then down a ladder sound to you? Like a disaster waiting to happen.
Does working with glass at height.... on ladders, really sound safe to you and is it really a risk you want to take? Regardless of what window you're taking out, a scaffold tower makes removing then lowering the old window simple, and safe.
Removing the Old Window
Remove the glass if it's a UPVC window, and take out the stops. The blind stop needs to be flush with the brick or the sash track will catch on the wood as you try to take it out.
Push up the bottom sash (the bit of the window that moves) so you can take out the top sash, which is probably painted in. The sash divider or parting bead, at the top of the window needs to come out.
Manoeuvre around the window, starting from the bottom right, and removed the sash stops then remove any more nails or screws holding the window in place.
With this done the window is ready to come out, so give it a good pull and pass it carefully down from the scaffold tower platform. Touch up the window jamb to make sure it is in good shape for a new window. Putty any small holes and sand down very rough patches.
Putting the New Window In
Remember, glass is heavy, so, instead of trying to haul the whole window into place, remove the sash from its frame. Lift the frame to the window hole and tilt it into place. Use a spirit level and shims to level the window, making sure the sides are flush to the wall.
With the frame in place, before you start fixing it in, put the glass sashes back into the frame. The sash frames will help the window to settle into its seat. Check the bottom of the window is completely level, then loosely nail or screw (depending on your window) the side jams in. Jig the header until it closes the gaps between the new window and the frame.
Pack around the window with fibreglass insulation or low expansion foam.
Now, lower yourself from your scaffold tower and pop inside. Before you over-tighten the screws or nails, lift and lower the sashes to check they slide smoothly; if they're too tight adjust the screws; if they're still too tight experiment with narrower shims. When you're happy with the movement, saw off any bits of shim that are sticking out.
Caulk around the inside of your new window and return the stops with finishing screws.
It is not time to return to your scaffold tower again to caulk around the outside and finish the window. Foam packing pressed into the space between the window and the frame will keep the window water- and draft tight. With all the gaps filled, the final touch is a layer of silicone caulk around the window smoothed with your finger or caulking tool.
Job's a gud en!
Of course, these are generic guidelines to give you an idea of the job you're thinking about taking on. When you're fitting your new window be sure to follow the guidelines to the letter.
So, now you know what you could be doing on your next DIY project, you just need to decide which kind of window you're going to get, and get your scaffold tower reserved.
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