New windows for an old (structural) masonry house?
We have a 1956 ranch house. It's built of cement block shaped and colored to look like brick. It's structural: walls are about 9" thick.
We need to replace three windows. One is simply glass block mortared in place. Two are cheap vinyl replacement windows set into the old wood frames.
From tearing out some other windows, we know how the original frames were installed: they were added as the masonry walls were built, so the nail heads are stuck IN the brick wall, and the nail points stick into the wood frames. REmoving those frames required tearing the frames out and cutting off the nails that were left sticking out of the masonry openings.
We'd like to replace these windows with double-hungs. We'd also like to maximize the glass area, so using new construction windows sounds better. Would we simply shim these in the masonry rough opening and fasten with Tapcon or similar... and caulk the gap or cover with small wood trim on the outside?
One problem is that two of the windows flank the front door and should be symmetrical.... but the ROs are slightly different: off by an inch or two. Looks we'd need to frame out the larger opening in order to have matching-sized windows. Would we need to use PT lumber for framing that out? If that one has to have a frame, would it look better if the other one did as well, albeit a smaller frame, with like-sized windows?
Any other advice for this difficult scenario?
Would photos help?
(Interior retrimming is a non-issue as it's all gutted anyway!)
Finally, what is the most cost effective place to get windows for this project? I priced Andersons, which is the look/quality we want, but we can't get custom sizes there.
Thanks for your input!