Adding a window to a brick house

hilltop_gwJanuary 27, 2006

How difficult would it be to add a window to a brick house? On the exterior there would only be 4 rows of brick between the new header and soffit (1 story home). Also, the window would be on the back side of the house where no one would ever see it (rural home). Currently we have standard Pella crank-outs; however would there be a different style of window that would require less masonry work. I want to add more light and a view--I don't want a sun tunnel.

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This could be difficult, depending on how it's constructed. Is this area solid brick or brick facade? Is it one story or two story? You would need a masonry saw blade to cut through the brick, and then you would need to hope that you don't get cracking or a collapse over the opening once the brick is cleared out and before you've braced the opening. It can be done, but I'd pay a structural engineer to give you an opinion first.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 2:45PM
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Actually, it's not all that difficult. I've done it to three homes ... sort of anyway:

In our last home (brick), I had a pair of double hung windows that I removed to install a sliding glass door. I did hire a fellow with a large masonry saw to neatly saw through the brick facing. From there, it was no different than putting in a door or window on a frame house. I framed out the opening, set in the door frame, insulated the gaps, applied brick molding on the outside and caulked everything well.

On our present house, we have a solid stone entry hall (not merely face stone). We again had someone come to do the sawing to allow us to convert a double casement window into our main entry door. In that case, the stone mason also set a stone sill for us. We then framed in the opening and set in a door frame kit.

Finally, when we gutted our kitchen for remodeling, I carefully measured for a window where there was none before. The outside surface here is stucco. Since it was less demanding than cutting through brick or stone, I purchased a diamond blade for my circular saw and cut the opening. Of course I was sweating bullets since I only had one chance to cut it right, but all worked out just fine.

If you decide to go ahead with the project, save enough of the bricks you remove to mortar in (tilted downward and out) as a window sill. That will keep rain from settling back on your window frame and rotting it. Also, take a grinder to the corners of the sawn bricks to knock off any sharp edge. After that, again, it's like installing any window, except that you trim it out with brick molding.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 4:54PM
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I agree, it is not that difficult, but you will need some help to temporarily brace the 4 coarses of brick above the window, while you slide in a steel lintel to hold the brick. When I did it, I put in a 11' wide casement window, so I had a lot of hanging brick there before I could get the lintel in. I was a little nervous that it would all come crashing down, but we did it fast. I also had to demo the stud wall to get the lintel in from the back side of the brick so I would think you will have to do this as well. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 5:06PM
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It takes a little work to remove brick so a window can be installed, and a little more work to reinstall the brick around the new window so that it looks like an original installation, but it's nothing any competent mason can't handle. It's done everyday.

A masonry saw can be used to make vertical cuts in brick for a new window opening, and while that's acceptable, it isn't the best way, because the cut edges are smooth and raw looking.

At any rate, the four rows of brick must be removed above the window so a steel lintel can be installed to support them.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 9:43PM
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I was concerned about this same issue during a recent renovation of my home. We enlarged some windows, removed others, and changed the dimension of several others. We also expanded the brick garage by about eight feet to accomodate an additional car.

My house is brick veneer, meaning that the walls are framed with 2X6 lumber with an outer course of standard bricks on all exterior walls. The house appears to be a solid brick structure.

Anyway, my architect assured me that the finished renovation would be seamless -- and he was right. Sections of walls were disassembled where windows and doors were altered (rather than sawn), then reassembled by a mason. Except that I know where alterations were made, I doubt that anyone else would be able to tell that any work was done.

If you click on the link below, you'll see a photo album showing my newly renovated kitchen. The last two photos show the exterior of the house where new windows and a door were added. Prior to renovation, there was only a sliding glass door on the wall facing the deck. The window wrapping around the corner was added and the window area around the door totally revamped. If you look closely at the left side of the last photo, you can just see where the garage was expanded. This has now weathered in and the slight change in mortar colour has blended completely.

Hope this helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: James' Renovated Brick House

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 1:13AM
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It is simple to change the height of an existing opening in a brick wall. The lintel is already in place. That is not the question.
Stucco is not a structural material and tends to hold together since it is on a support (mesh for older).

With only 4 courses, it is probably just as easy to remove the bricks above the opening and install a lintel, then cut out under the lintel.
For larger heights the lintel can be installed after providing supports for the header brick using anchors into the mortar and a temporary wooden lintel. It is easier for brick veneer (single layer decorative brick) than for a masonry structure (2 layers brick minimum typically), but can be done in either type of wall.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 11:31AM
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It's alot of work (for a DIYér) but it can be done. We're doing it. We haven't added new windows, but we've enlarged almost all of them significantly. Our house is all cinder block construction with brick exterior. DH has had to jackhammer out the cinder block then carefully saw out the brick (in order to rebrick around the windows (we have very difficult to match brick, so we had to salvage). If you can just bust the brick out and buy matching brick, it's WAY easier. Then you have to carefully replace the header, build the frame and install the window.

This is what I know from watching DH, he could give you much more (and more accurate no doubt) detail.

Bottom line: totally doable, but messy, noisy, hard work. And by the way, SO worth it!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Thanks to all for your replies. I'm hoping to have the window addition done on the back side of the house at the same time as we're doing a room addition on the front of the house. Hopefully a contractor won't frown on it quite so much as he'll already be working here and can incorporate it into a bigger project. Biggest challenge is always finding someone willing to take on a project. But a window added in this particular location would make such a difference.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 4:52PM
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I just bought an all brick house. The only place to put in a dog door is in the brick wall.
I think this should be about the same as adding a tiny window.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Remodel

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 6:42PM
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Depends on how wide the dog door is.
Less than 2 bricks wide you can use wooden 2x framing to supprt the bricks. More than 2 wide you may need a steel lintel.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 8:48PM
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All roads lead to GW. I've been contemplating adding a couple of windows to our home for a while. Not sure it is something that I want to do as a DIY though, so I decided to do a google search. Of course, I should have know some GW member has done it before!!

When we built our home in 2005, we were living 4 hours away and things moved quickly since DH had just been transferred and we needed to move fast. We didn't pay as much attention to details as we could have.

There are two rooms where I would love to add a window. One is my sons' bath on the second floor. The window would be a small one over the toilet. I'm told we have to worry about a "stink" pipe and whether it could be re-routed.

The second window would be in our finished basement on the walk out side. The walk out side is framed with 2x6 as opposed to being poured concrete.

I'm sure the 2nd floor window wouldn't be a huge deal since there is only a few courses of brick above where it would go but I'm guessing removing brick from the basement level with two floors above would be a bad idea?

Advice on whether this would be a worthwhile project and cost involved.

Neither room has a window currently.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:32PM
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We are considering add a window to a brick veneered wall. How much would it cost?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 8:59PM
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