How To Install A Window, Shim Chew Sticks, and Surprisingly Cheap Hardware

Last Saturday morning Andy and I woke up bright and early to install the six small windows which were missing from the addition. We had received them last week, and with a proposed cold spell and storm on it’s way in we couldn’t wait to get them in. With my brother-in-law gone for the week it meant I got to really get in there and help since installing windows properly takes two people.

Due to sheer lazyness, this was the first photo I could find which showed both the four windows on the front, and one of the two on the back. Obviously we’re much further along on the house but you get the idea.

I’m really happy I get to write this post if only for one reason: I actually get to make a non-technical, general tutorial on how to install windows. It was far easier than I imagined.

To install the windows you’ll need a few things:

  • Grace Vycor
  • Galvanized roofing nails (we used 2″)
  • Shims
  • Wonderbar
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife

1. To start Andy measured out enough Grace Vycor to go along the bottom of the window and just past the edge of the wood so it would adhere onto the insulation. You’ll use this again later, but for now just put it again the bottom. Once this stuff it’s down, it’s down. Make sure to only start it, but leave the backing on and slowly pull the backing up as you adhere it.

It’s no secret I watch Daily Grace on YouTube to get a laugh (is it? I don’t know) so Andy made sure to inform me at this point that Grace Vycor was “today’s only Daily Grace you’re getting.”  To this I promptly began singing “Construction Saturday, construction Saturday, connnstruucction Saatuurrdayy”, which if you don’t watch Daily Grace makes absolutely zero sense. So let’s just ignore this paragraph all together and move on.

2. Next up comes handing the window outside, and shimming it into place. You want the same reveal all the way around more or less. While the person on the inside adjusts the reveal, the person on the outside should be making sure all adjustments are level. Our shims were scrap wood we had from siding the garage, and/or other projects from around the house. One thing you might not know about me, I really like shimming. This is a weird thing to like, but I like doing it.

First you want to shim vertical.

In order to lift the window from the inside, if it’s flush to the sill, you need to pry it up. Be super careful of this as you don’t want to damage the interior wood of the window.

Next you want to adjust side to side. For this you won’t be shimming anything, just simply making sure there’s even reveal on either side and room for spray foam.

3.  Level everything one more time. Once it’s level, put in a couple of the roofing nails on the outside to hold into place, and check again. Essentially just keep checking whether it’s level.

At this point the person on the inside is done, but there’s a little more work on the outside.

4. Using your hot galvanized roofing nails, go around the entire window and tap those babies in.

5.  It’s time for more Grace Vycor! Now that you have your window nailed in, run some more Vycor around the other three edges of the window and insulation. Below is a photo of a window once installation is complete. Remember you can see the nails on the bottom because that Vycor strip went on before the window was installed. The other three strips on the sides and top should completely cover the rest of the nails.

While the person outside is completing the nailing and Vycor wrapping, turn around to find the dogs munching down on shims you tossed onto the floor after they were too big for one of the windows.


Once you’re ready for the next window, do it all over again. And again. And again. And again.

Once the windows are installed you can go back and pull the shims out, and add the hardware.

The hardware for these windows (Andersons) made me stop in my tracks. I really love our windows, don’t get me wrong, but the standard hardware they came with is a little…lacking. For one I was surprised they didn’t match the exterior color of the window (forest green). Second, I was surprised they were plastic. Listen, they’re fine, but they are less than I expected, that’s all.

They were however very easy to install, so I’ll give that to Anderson. First, you just snap on the crank cover. FYI: It’s just dust on the cover in the photo below. They came in great condition.

Then you back off the screw in the handle, place it on the crank piece on the window, and screw back into place.

One of the things you might want to make sure of, is that the handles all face the same way (if that matters to you) when the window is shut. It mattered to me, so I figured out at what spot I had to put them on so all of them would face right when the window was completely shut tight.

After you put on the window crank, you have to put on the side pieces for the window locks. Again, everything just snapped into place.

I originally asked Andy if we had the option of buying nicer metal pieces but now that they have been installed for a week they don’t bug me a bit. I hardly notice them at all.

I’m pretty proud of myself for getting to help out, and not somehow breaking one of the windows. This may not seem like a big feat, but I should explain I was carrying the above window out to Andy on a staging plank about a foot wide, spanning the width of the new wide staircase, while balancing it. It was slightly nerve wracking.

With the upstairs windows complete it was time to move to the final two original windows downstairs. We didn’t buy these with the first purchase of large windows for three reasons: windows are expensive, we already had two in there, and the goal was to simply have the house sealed by winter. Thus, these two windows stayed as is.

The original plan was to move these windows over, but then we realized we’d only have about three inches to move the windows to the right without interfering with our planned closet. I looked at Andy and told him not to waste his time ripping everything down, and re-framing the windows back up for a three inch shift. He agreed.

This didn’t change the fact that the two windows had to come out temporarily to build out the frames some, so Andy could finish the insulation on the outside. What this means (from what I understand) is when the new windows come in now all he has to do is remove these ones and pop the new ones in.

Looking at that photo…whew. What a mess. All of the wood in the corner is scrap wood we’ve accumulated from the construction. For an entire addition it’s pretty minimal. We have been going back to this pile to grab little pieces we might want here or there, but since most of it is pine it’s been going right into the wood stove to burn. It’s not cold enough to burn the oak yet, so the pine makes nice quick hot fires which are perfect for this time of year. I’ve stated this before, but we do not and you should not ever burn pressure treated lumber. It contains volatile chemicals.

Well, with that PSA about pressure treated lumber, that about sums up the bigger projects we did last weekend! This weekend we’re working on framing up the upstairs rooms, or at least that’s the plan. We just got back from home depot with some of the lumber we need. With that said, time to go get some laundry done, throw on the carhartt overalls, work boots and get going. I have a lot of studs that need sealing. If you need me, I’ll be upstairs with caulking gun in hand.



2 thoughts on “How To Install A Window, Shim Chew Sticks, and Surprisingly Cheap Hardware

  1. You’ve been busy! And now thanks to you, I have somewhat of a general idea how to install windows if I ever need to down the road. I’ve always wondered if the windows in this house were installed properly since I always feel cold air coming through them.

    P.S. Bella and Carson also like to help with projects by “cleaning” up the scrap wood for us. They are also goons.

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