How far into the wall does a window go?

toolbabeFebruary 24, 2010

Hi there,

We've had three huge aluminium clad wood windows installed in a newly rebuilt extension of our house, last November, and all sorts of things went awfully wrong with the installation.

No sill pan or tape was used, the huge picture windows were installed on cedar shims; no proper caulking was done or sufficient insulation installed at the top and sides of the windows; the windows did not come with a nailing flange and were not properly sealed to the house wrap but were screwed to the house frame using deck screws drilled (not predrilled) directly into the interior wood trim. And although we had ordered these windows with a fully finished interior trim, there is almost 2" of trim missing so that the window trim does not even reach the edge of the opening to meet with the interior wall. Basically this was a very sloppy job all around.

But the worst part is that the thermos panes of the windows sit clearly 1/2" outside of the wall. The back of the brick mould is 1 1/2" out from the Tyvek.

We've had to stick plastic films over the windows to avoid wasting fuel this Winter.

After we complained, the company has agreed to replace the windows and redo the installation, but is now suggesting we forgo the brick mould completely and reduce the depth of the interior wood finish. We did not take the initial measurements. They did. So I am at a loss to understand why they would want to change the configuration of the window at this point when the only thing at issue is the installation to far out of the wall.

The wall (without the final millwork cladding) is 10 3/4" thick, and the assembled window is 12 3/4" which includes the window itself (5 13/16"), the 1 7/8" brick mould, and the 5 7/16" interior wood trim.

The company is suggesting to replace these windows with windows which would have a sill extention on the outside, but no brick mould, and only 4 11/16" of interior wood trim.

Should I stick to my guns and have them redo the window as is, or is there some logic in what they are proposing to me?

The outside wall is still on Tyvek, pending the resolution of this latest reno snafu, but will ultimately be finished with millwork.

Please let me know what you think.

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Pictures would really help here but normally the window jamb should sit flush with your finished interior wall. Standard jambs on a clad wood window are 4 9/16" so your window should have jamb extensions to make up the difference. Your actual wall thickness is: 1) the framing member + 2) shear wall + 3) sheet rock or the like.
Sorry but it sounds like your installation is a mess.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:30PM
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Thanks Eastbay,

Yes, I know the installation is a mess. One huge mess that is keeping me awake at night. There is still hope it can be fixed, but I just don't want to be railroaded by the window company.

The actual wall thickness is 10 3/4" thick, from the exterior house wrap to the interior finished drywall. The final cladding is not up yet but will be 1" thick millwork. Our outside walls are thicker than average because we had to meet historical requirements, the house we are restoring was built in the late 1870's and is in a historical neighbourhood.

So we are not dealing with standard window jams or sizes here. Everything had to be custom built by the window manufacturer.

What I need to know is how far into the opening should the thermos be positioned (looking from the outside, not from the inside), ideally. Right now, the thermos is sticking out of the wall by almost 1/2", which clearly makes no sense.

The windows came with brick moulding. Should the back of the moulding be butted onto the house wrap of should there be a gap?

I'll try and post pictures as soon as I can go out and take them.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 11:17AM
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I cannot visualize how the glass sits out proud 1/2" but the brick mould should sit flush against the house wrap and the finished exterior 1" cladding should butt against the brick mould (leaving a caulk joint). From your description, your window should have been ordered with a 10 3/4" jamb. Even if it was ordered wrong, jamb extensions in most cases can be altered in the field without the need for a new window.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 11:33AM
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Thank you Eastbay,

The jamb size is presently 12 3/4" in total, that is 5 13/16" for the window proper, and 5 7/16" for the jamb extension, plus the projection of the brick moulding.

The windows were installed in such a way that the back of the brick moulding sits about 1 5/8" proud of the house wrap. As a result, the thermos sits clear outside of the wall.

Here's a look see:

The installers used pieces of wood to center and level the windows, (see the 1x2 pieces of pine in the corners) but neglected to remove them prior to screwing the frame to the wall, and then they called it a day hoping nobody would notice...

The company is now offering to redo the whole job, windows and all. But they are suggesting a different design, one where we'd end up with much less wood trim indoors (3 11/16") and much more aluminium assembly outdoors.

When I pointed out that reducing the wood jamb extension was not something we would accept, they came up with an alternative design with a 4 11/16" jamb extension, but no brick mould which they would replace with a 2 1/4 aluminium sill extension.

They now seem to want to fault the presence of the brick mould for the shoddy installation.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 1:01PM
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Yes by all means the brickmold should be set up against the house wrap. It sounds to me like the jamb extension is to deep and they are setting it flush to the interior instead of the brickmold against the exterior wall. If they were to remove or when the new unit is made make the jamb extension equal to 3 7/16 and from what info you give us this should work.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 6:14PM
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Reviewing your numbers, you currently have picture windows with an 11 1/4" jamb that are intended to be installed into a 10 3/4" wall depth. If the backside of the brickmold is currently 1 1/2" away/out from the face of the sheathing, the 2" dimension you indicated calculates accurately as the distance of void between the interior surface of the finished wall and the window's wood jamb extension. (So far so good?)

Now, if the 1x2 furring strips were removed from the exterior and the brickmold was allowed to be properly installed directly over the wrapped sheathing, the window's jamb extension should protrude past the interior wall surface by 1/2". (Still okay on the dimensions?)

If so, then the easiest corrective action would be to simply remove the windows from the opening, and reduce the interior wood jamb extension depth by approximately 1/2" (technically, it is practical to allow the window jamb depth to exceed the actual wall depth by 1/16" to 1/8", as it allows for a cleaner interior trim [i.e. casing/casework] installation if the wall assembly is not the exact dimension depth on four sides).

The jamb extension reduction can be done with a skill saw and a mechanical or hand planer. Using this method, it will also simplify the jamb reduction if the extension can be removed from the window and instead placed on a table saw and jointer to remove the 1/2".

Lastly, if the jamb extensions can be removed, it would be prudent to instruct the window company/installers to supply new wood jamb extensions in the proper width(depth), since they installed screws through the original material. By the way, installing anchors (i.e. nails or screws) to secure a window in an opening is not properly done through the window's jamb extension, but rather through the "meat" of the window or the basic structural jamb of the window (the 5 13/16" section), as the latter provides a more structurally sound installation (this is in lieu of using a nailing fin).

Finally, the link you provided for photos was not accessible, but I think that I properly understood your description.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 11:36AM
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Thank you very much mcsbldrr,

Yes, you understood the description completely, and yes your suggestion fully makes sense to me.

Sorry you could not see the picture, the link needs to be cut and pasted in your viewer. (I still haven't figured out how to upload pictures directly into my messages).

There are three windows. The smallest one is 72" wide and 65" high. The other two are 147" wide and 60" high, and 147" wide and 72" high.

During the installation, the windows frames and panels were badly scratched, so the company will be bringing completely new windows.

I'll make sure they reduce the extra half inch of extension by at least 3/8" to leave that 1/8" finish. The 1/8" will match nicely what we've left around the door frames.

I understand that properly butting the back of the brick mould to the house wrap will take care of the thermos position by bringing it within the warm section of the wall. If that is correct, then we are good to go.

Thanks again for your input!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 12:09PM
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This is another attempt to upload a picture of one of the windows. I hope this one works...

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 9:02PM
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Hi there !

Well, I thought I'd give you an update on my original window question...

The windows were gorgeous, but poorly installed and had been damaged during installation. So.... After some hee-ing and haw-ing, the seller agreed to have new windows manufactured and a date was set for the new installation.

This took place in the Spring of 2010. It would have been wonderful and everyone could have moved on with their lifes if not for the fact that the new windows were also defective...

Specifically, it turns out someone at the factory forgot to seal the frame assembly joints, all of them, so that all three windows let water and air in all around. Moreover, the actual conception of the windows would have caused water to eventually seep in and under the frame anyway. The windows, sad to say, were DOA.

Wind infiltration is bad enough, specially if you live in an area where it can get to be minus kazillion degrees in Winter. But water causes damage. And it did. Within days of having the new "new" windows installed, we could no longer properly open or close them. A service call yielded nothing but more frustration. A technician was sent. He fiddled with the worst of the panels until he declared it the wrong size. He said he'd order a new one and would come back when it was ready. A month later, having had no news, we called the company. No one there seemed to know what we were talking about. An other technician was sent and he found a huge puddle under the window and had us remove all the insulating material which was sopping wet by then. Seems our beautiful new "new" windows had sprung a serious leak. Long story short, during the ensuing months we got the run around from one technician to the next, then from on director to the next, then from one vice president to the next, then... Ultimately, on September 8, 2011, the manufacturer, Bonneville, placed itself under the protection of the Bankruptcy act. And we had to hire a lawyer to get the attention of the seller.

We now have to start all over. Not to mention having to open up the wall inside and out as we don't yet know how far the water has travelled inside the walls...

The parting shot we got from the seller is that all aluminium clad wood windows will present some for of water infiltration. Some faster than others.

I would not buy a wooden boat at this stage of my life. Perhaps aluminium clad wood windows are just another type of wooden boat I should steer well clear of.

Have any of you NEVER had a water infiltration problem with alu clad wood windows installed in a frigid winter 1 torrid summer type climate...?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Wood windows, aluminum clad windows, vinyl windows does not matter, if they are installed correctly will not leak water. They also should not leak air with some allowing more air infiltration than others.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 6:55PM
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