For years now, recessed windows — which mimic the appearance of traditional Southwestern adobe architecture — have been popular in Western states like California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Now the trend is moving eastward. Unfortunately, a recessed window — which is typically set anywhere from 2 to 12 inches into the framing — is very difficult to flash properly. I know because my company has been investigating and repairing leaky recessed window openings in Southern California ever since they started showing up on new construction projects 10 years ago.
To understand why recessed windows are so difficult to flash, I find it helpful to look at flush-mounted units. With a traditional installation, water hits the siding (or gets behind it) and travels straight down until it reaches the top of the window, where it hits a watertight head flashing. It then travels horizontally for a short distance,...
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