Susan Burnet

Replacement windows come in two flavors: insert, or "pocket," windows (which I discussed in a previous article, "Quick Wood Replacement Windows," April/07) and full-frame units. Where to specify each type is something every remodeling contractor should know. We often replace windows less than 20 years old that have failed due to poor quality, improper installation, or both. On this particular job, a developer had converted a vintage YMCA structure into 35 condo units around 1990. The off-brand wood windows he installed were doomed to failure from the start, thanks to the manufacturer's liberal use of untreated, finger-jointed pine, and the lack of care paid by the carpenters during the installation.

We start the replacement process by measuring each window and window opening. We always try to maintain historically accurate details, such as elaborate trim, so accurate measurements are important. With this particular brick building, we measured each masonry opening at several different spots because openings are often not true, especially in...

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