How to Replace Aluminum Windows in Brick Veneer

When you feel the cold wind outside coming through your front window, you know it’s time to replace that aluminum window. Replacing windows in a home clad with brick veneer isn’t quite as easy as replacing those in a frame house. You have to take extra care to ensure the window is water and air-tight. If you’ve decided against hiring some window company or one of the big box stores to replace your windows, and you think you can take on this project yourself, let’s get started.

Window Replacement Tools and Materials:

  • Caulking gun and plenty of tubes of caulk (allow at least two per window)
  • A square and a level
  • Wood shims
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Hammer
  • Strong cordless drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood chisel
  • Utility knife
  • Small prybar (not the larger wrecking bar)
  • Replacement window: recommended type is an aluminum clad wood window
  • This job requires a couple hours per window, moderate DIY skills, and a helper.

Step 1 - Measure the Windows You’ll be Replacing

You will be measuring the inside not the outside of the windows. To get the width measurement, measure from one side of the inside of the window jamb to the other side. Measure in several places (top, middle and bottom) as the house may have settled over the years, which will make the window unsquare. If all the measurements match or are within a quarter inch of each other, lucky you. If not, keep the smallest measurement. Repeat the measuring process to get the height of your windows. If you’ll be replacing more than one window, even if they look like they’re the same size, don’t assume that the measurements will be identical; you need to measure each one.

Step 2 - Remove the Old Window

You’ll need the pry bar, utility knife, screwdriver and an extra helping of patience. If you have an older home, you’ll want to save as much of the trim work as possible for reuse. Work carefully, protecting the surrounding woodwork and brickwork. Once the stops are out, you can work out the sashes. Cut any cords or chains and take out each sash. Once the sashes are removed, take care to clean the opening of as much debris and caulk as you possibly can, to ensure the best seal possible when the new window is in place.

Step 3 - Install the New Window

First of all, read all the instructions that come with your window. Then, before you do anything “irreversible” - like laying down a bead of caulk in the window opening - dry-fit the window to see how well it fits the opening. Add framing if necessary to make the opening smaller. You will need to put caulk on all sides of the opening before putting the window in place. Set it in, bottom first. Ensure that it is level even, plumb, square; shim if necessary. This is when you’ll most need your assistant.  Screw in the window, and test to see if it opens and closes smoothly and easily. Adjust the screws and shims if necessary.

Step 4 - Inside and Outside Finishing

Well-fitting replacement windows usually don’t need any exterior trim work aside from a bead of caulk to seal the opening, which takes patience and practice to do a neat clean job, as the brick is uneven. Aluminum cladding may be needed to cover any flashing on the bottom of the window. Replace the interior trim to match its previous appearance. Re-paint or refinish as needed.