Replacement Windows—DIY or Hire a Pro?

The Do-It-Yourself industry is thriving! You can find books and online tutorials on virtually every type of home renovation project. Some jobs, though, require some consideration whether you should DIY it or hire a pro. You don’t want to jump in over your head. Replacement windows fall into that category.

There are many reasons that Houston residents choose to replace their windows, hurricanes are right up there at the top of the list. Many people are choosing to upgrade to impact resistant windows for added hurricane protection. These windows actually increase your home’s structural integrity. They are a mighty force against the debris slammed mercilessly at your windows during the onslaught of a hurricane.

But, we digress.

You already know the reason you’re installing replacement windows. We didn’t intend to sway your decision, we’re just amazed at the durability of impact windows. Our apologies.

We were discussing whether or not you should tackle the job yourself or find an installer.

Ask yourself these questions

Before you begin any DIY project, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons. There are some pretty basic questions that you should ask yourself.

Do I have the proper skills?

Small home improvements or crossing tasks off the honey-do list is one thing. Window replacement, on the other hand, is a major project. In fact, we’d call it more than a project! It’s labor intensive, time consuming, and dangerous.

Do you have the tools necessary to complete the job?

  • Drill
  • Caulk gun
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Screwdriver
  • Safetyglasses
  • Dust mask

It’s a pretty basic list. If you don’t have these things on hand, we suggest you consider hiring someone for the job.

Could I actually harm myself?

If we’re being frank, you could do more than that. You will be working with a heavy glass object which requires being on a ladder. We’ll just let that visual sink in for a second.

Can I do more harm than good?

Other than the above, you mean? The answer is possibly. What if you start and then discover hidden damage? Not to mention the fact that window installation requires precise measurements at every turn. For example, the terms plumb and flush are extremely important in regard to window installation. If you aren’t familiar with them, this may not be your cup of tea.

Put on the kettle and let the pros handle it.

What’s it really costing me?

Determining the value of your time is something else you will want to consider. A full-frame window replacement takes anywhere from four to six hours. If you’re an amateur, of course, you should probably figure that on the high side. Take that times the number of windows you are replacing.

Oh, and those stats pertain to ground floor windows. You need to figure extra time for the second story.

It could easily add up to sacrificing more than a couple of weekends. And, let’s face it, even if it’s a “staycation” this year, you don’t want to spend all of it on a ladder!

How big a concern is the safety factor?

We just mentioned ladders so now’s a good time to broach the subject. Seriously consider the fact that you’ll undoubtedly be required to work from a ladder. It’s estimated that over 500,000 accidents each year involve one. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, 36,338 people died as a result of falling from a ladder either at home or at work in 2017.

Add to that the increased risk of serious injury involved because you are working with glass. Do skilled professionals look more appealing?

What if I drop it?

Hopefully, no one will be on their way to the ER. The least of your worries then would be about a guarantee. However, we’ll mention that manufacturers often require that the window units be installed by professionals or the guarantee is null and void.

That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

What’s the call?

Now you’ve taken into account all the facets of this hefty DIY project.

Window replacement is a great way to improve energy efficiency. The savings factor offsets the initial cost as well. And, if we’re looking at things from that perspective, it will eventually pay for the time you sacrifice committing to the job yourself. However, life moves pretty fast. Make sure you are willing to commit to seeing the job through. The last thing you want is for your new windows to be propped up in the garage gathering dust.

If danger isn’t your business, this project is best left to the professionals. Think about the risks involved. Should you carry on and install the windows yourself make sure that you exercise caution. Encourage your helpers to do so as well!

All’s well that ends well

Ultimately, if you decide to press on and get those new windows in on your own, good luck! We will trust your decision on that. As with any DIY project, you are sure to experience the satisfaction of a job well done.

If you decide to hire professionals to accomplish the job, do your homework and find a reliable installer. Ask friends and family for references. Local online review sites are also helpful.

Find out how long the company has been in business. Are they accredited? They should also be ready to answer all of your questions regarding the windows you’ve chosen. In fact, if you’re having trouble making a decision, they will guide you in that process as well.

Installing replacement windows is a big decision, but once it’s made you certainly have something to look forward too. Money saving benefits are attractive features, all right. But, we can’t overlook the aesthetic value replacement windows provide.

When its all said and done, your home will be sporting a whole new look inside and out. Not only will you have a new view of your world, it will have a whole new view of you.

Hurricane Preparation for Homeowners

Hurricane preparation equals peace of mind if you live near the coast.

You just never know what each hurricane season will bring. Odds are that we won’t even see one hit landfall near us. On the other hand, we might.

Being prepared, though, is always the best plan of action.

Hurricanes are nothing to mess around with and if an evacuation order goes out in your area, you should heed it. A Category 4 or 5 hurricane brings major devastation. You and your family should not be subjected to the risk that entails.

Whether you stay put or flee, your home is going to weather the storm.

The question is how well.

The time is now

Rather than waiting until a hurricane is barreling toward the coastline, taking steps now to prepare your home is a wise idea.

If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, last minute hurricane preparation can find you with no available supplies to purchase. Pictures of barren shelves prior to a major weather event just don’t apply to the grocery store.

Even if your plans include hiring a professional, last minute attempts to contact one will find you at the bottom of the list.

Hurricanes don’t wait around for deliveries or free schedules.

Up on the rooftop

Your home’s roof is in serious and immediate danger during a hurricane. Doing all you can to strengthen it makes it all the more likely it will stay in place. Losing a few shingles or minor damage is no comparison to losing it entirely.

Construction adhesives

Some find it surprising that using an adhesive is a simple, economical method of hurricane preparation. Applying a construction adhesive along each rafter or truss where it meets the plywood decking makes your roof nearly three times stronger!

Brace it up

Adding braces in your attic is another inexpensive way to beef up your roof.

If your home has a gable roof, screwing a pair of 2x4s in an “X” pattern on each end wall adds a lot of extra support. The first 2×4 should extend from the peak of the gable to the bottom center brace of the fourth truss. The second 2×4 is placed at the bottom center of the gable and extend to the top center brace of the fourth truss. Use 3-inch wood screws or 16d galvanized common nails to attach them. Use 1-inch galvanized-steel straps for added reinforcement wherever the brace meets the roof members.

If your roof is framed, collar ties provide added strength to your roof. Run a long stud from one side of the roof to the other, three-quarters of the way up the slope of the rafters. Use long wood screws and galvanized-steel straps to secure the lumber.

It looks like a giant “A.”

Which, by the way, is the score you receive for this simple, yet extremely effective hurricane preparation method.

Strapping or clips

Installing hurricane straps or clips when a home is built is the best option for them. It’s a tricky business to retrofit them. Hire an experienced contractor for the job. The straps or clips attach at each roof connection.

Your entire roof connects directly to your house.

Windows and doors

Sadly, the entry points to our home often permit entry for a hurricane as well. Windows that blow out or doors that are ripped away from their hinges become weapons of destruction.

We don’t want our families submitted to that type of danger.

Ever.

Moreover, once the wind rips full force into our home, it immediately begins looking for a way out again. It rushes to the top of the house and once in the attic pushes against the rooftop with all its might. Meanwhile, outside the winds continue to batter our home from all sides.

If you haven’t beefed up your roof with added protection, you are in grave danger of losing it all together.

Hurricane shutters come in a variety of styles that range in price. Temporary shutters are a popular choice. You put them up in preparation of a coming storm and then remove them afterward. Storage is sometimes an issue though, not to mention the hassle of getting them up and down.

Decorative shutters remain on homes year round.

Hurricane resistant windows and doors provide extremely effective protection. Their rating depends on their overall performance during testing.

Hurricane windows, also called impact windows, are not indestructible. However there is no comparison between normal and hurricane windows. The amount of force they can withstand from both the storm and the debris it hurls at your home is amazing!

Doors receive hurricane ratings as well. While your shopping around, don’t forget about beefing up your garage door! It’s estimated that a hurricane obtained entrance to rip through a home full force in over 80% of homes that are destroyed.

You can purchase hurricane resistant doors or purchase kits to strengthen the one that you currently have installed.

Landscaping

Oftentimes, homeowners don’t think about this fact we’re about to share.

Poorly-maintained trees provide ammunition for hurricanes. Pruning your trees to rid them of dead branches and excess foliage makes a huge difference whether or not they survive the storm.

Falling trees are a huge hazard to your home and those around you.

Your fruit trees can pack an extra punch. You should consider picking them. Each piece of fruit becomes a missile when ripped from the tree by a hurricane.

After the fact

Living near the coast in Texas, strengthening your home to better withstand the force of a hurricane is a sage choice.

You will reap the benefits for years to come.

Your family’s safety during a hurricane is of the utmost importance. As a matter of fact, hurricane preparation now is an investment in their future.

To say nothing of the fact that should you ever find yourself in a hurricane’s path and safely weather the storm together, your investment pays off tenfold.

What are Impact Windows?

Our homes represent who we are. It makes sense, then, that we want our windows to make a visual impact, but that’s not the definition of impact windows. They are so much more than beautiful!

True, they come in virtually every size and style you can imagine, but there is a lot more to know.

A bit of history

A Category 5 hurricane leaves a path of destruction like no other.

Such was the case after Hurricane Andrew ripped through the state of Florida in 1992. Florida is one of our most populated states. The massive amount of destruction left in Andrew’s wake prompted officials to call for changes in the Florida building codes. Since 2002, all new construction must use hurricane resistant materials.

Window manufacturers were listening.

It was not long before they had the problem solved.

Currently, only Florida and Louisiana require hurricane resistant building materials for all new construction, both commercial and residential.

Well, Hurricane Harvey proved that a Category 4 hurricane is no picnic, either, when it made landfall in 2017, didn’t it?

Texas suffered billions of dollars in damage, ranking Harvey as the second most costly hurricane to hit the United States mainland since 1900!

Texans realized the need to reinforce their homes for hurricane safety if they hadn’t before.

A bit of science

It makes sense that stronger windows and doors hold the force of the storm at bay.

Homes that are subjected to hurricane force winds packing debris of any and all forms are in danger of losing their windows and doors. Once the wind forces its way into the house, watch out! Not only are you and your family in danger of being struck with glass and debris, but the wind immediately begins looking for an escape route of it’s own.

It races to the top of your home pushing against the roof and finding every nook and cranny available to try and force it’s way out. Simultaneously, the same winds are beating against your roof from the outside. The combined wind force from both inside and out work together and are capable of taking your roof right off your home.

Not good.

Backed up the beauty with brawn

Determined to solve the problem of blown out windows or windows smashed to bits from debris, manufacturers began looking for the answer.

It didn’t take them long to find it.

Manufacturers of tempered glass utilize a thermal or chemical process. The procedure changes the strength value of glass for the better. But, in the rapid cooling process of the glass, there is a change in the way the glass breaks apart, as well. When breakage occurs, tempered glass shatters into thousands of little “balls.”

If there is no danger of flying shards, windows made of tempered glass are safer.

Creators of the impact window didn’t stop there, however. A sheet of high tech material, often polymer, adheres to two panels of tempered glass. This added reinforcement makes it extremely difficult for windows to break. If they crack, even shatter, they will not fly apart!

Eureka!

Just because they say so

Window manufacturers brought their new product to the table, but just because they said they were good to go wasn’t the proof required to rate a window as impact resistant.

Regulators created a series of tests.

If the entire window unit remains intact throughout, they earn a hurricane resistant rating and rightly so!

The tests are brutal, but, then again, so are hurricanes.

What’s on the test

Testers perform the large missile test first. A 6-foot 2×4 is projected at the window with the force equating to that of hurricane winds. It must strike the window end first.

If this test is passed, the window unit goes on to the small missile test. Steel ball bearings (or gravel of the same size) are hurled toward the window covering a distance of 80 feet per second. The window must remain intact upon impact.

High wind and water resistant tests are then performed.

There are window units that do sustain damage during testing. However, if the entire window unit remains intact during the process, it is given a rating as to performance. The window label reveals the appropriate rating.

Check the fringe

And, we don’t mean on your window treatments!

Impact windows are a giant step in the right direction to reinforce your home to withstand the force of a hurricane.

Moreover, they offer these benefits as well:

  • Intruder protection — Intruders want to hit like a hurricane, hard and fast. Built to take a beating, impact windows provide a defense against home invasion, too. Imagine their dismay when met with resistance at their preferred point of entry! Odds are it will send would-be intruders packing.
  • Decrease outside noise levels — The added reinforcement between window panels does more than beef up strength! It also acts as a muffler. Outside noises stay outside or decrease to a very low level. There are no more outside distractions to affect your solitude.
  • UV protection — The sun’s rays are brutal if not protected against. That goes for our bodies and our stuff! Impact windows block the UV rays. That means no more faded furniture and carpets!
  • Energy efficient — The protection provided to your home increases when you install impact windows. However, you will also see a decrease in your utility bill! These windows keep the outside air out and the inside air in. They will eventually pay for themselves in energy savings!

Take matters into your own hands

The time to install impact windows in your home is now.

Currently, Texas building codes do not require new construction to utilize hurricane resistant building materials. Instead, it recommends adopting the 2003 IBC and 2000 IRC for cities and counties.

However, not all locations have done that.

It shouldn’t matter one bit.

Living through the destruction caused by a hurricane and losing everything you own is a pretty rough wake up call.

We’d recommend you to be ahead of the curve. Get your home in shape now, instead of taking a chance on having no home later.