Removing Window from Stucco

kendog2May 15, 2012


I made a previous post with questions about putting in a larger window in our bathroom. Our house has a stucco exterior. We have decided to install a new construction Milgard Tuscany window. The size will be approximately 48"x 18". The window store recommended removing the old window and measuring the rough opening before ordering the new window. The frame that is visible without removing the stucco is 46 7/8" x 11 1/2".

Windowdog posted these instructions for removing the window.

"You don't have to tear up the stucco. Here is a good method. Get a diamond blade for your circular saw. Get an expensive high quality one. On the outside, right NEXT to the exposed aluminum frame, cut through the stucco AND the nailing fin. Experiment with your blade depth because you don't want to be cutting into the stud. Diamond blades don't work so well on wood! Be careful on the corners to get a full cut - you'll have to go past 3/4" to compensate for the circular shape of the blade. When you're finished, the old window will lift out if it doesn't fall out, so don't hold on to the window when you're cutting. Also wear a mask because this is very dusty. At this point, you should end up with a clean cut in the stucco. You should measure your window to be app that size, and you can do that before cutting. Give yourself a minimum of an extra 1/4 inch all the way around for easy fitment between the stucco. You will most likely be behind the sheetrock at that point, but that's not for sure. Once you do one, you'll know how to do the others better. Worse case, you'll have to cut the stucco twice on the first one. DO NOT forget to flash/drip cap above the new window. You can get up in there with a sawzall blade and cut the nails to remove the upper fin, which should give you plenty of clearance for your drip cap. Go ahead and rip out your sheetrock before installing the new window, and then just jamb up to it once it's determined where it will sit. You won't loose much glass area, if any, if you do it this way.

The new window, in this situation, will stick out past the stucco app 3/8 of an inch. You will be able, hopefully, to put a nice neat bead of caulk around it that way, with no raw stucco edge showing. Be sure that you measure for this from the inside surface of the wall around the window all the way around, because stucco can be much much more uneven than the inside sheetrock.

Don't forget you can measure where the studs are by measuring between the sheetrock on the inside and adding for the thickness of the sheetrock. Compare this measurement with what you get measuring the exposed aluminum frame on the outside - BUT, use your inside stud to stud measurements for your basis of determining the new window size. Also, do not forget, window sizes are always width first. width x height. Always.

If this sounds like too much for you, bite the bullet and have the pros do it. If you don't know what you're doing it's not hard to butcher this kind of job. Worse worse case, you're patching stucco, but that will always have a tendency to crack where you patched it.

And please be careful with power tools on ladders. Always have a helper or two. Preferably one to steady the ladder, and one to hold the window. Tie off the ladder, tie off yourself."

We are going to have an experienced friend do the install but I'm hoping we can remove the window ourselves. Here is a photo of the exterior:

Windowdog, I'm wondering why we should cut through the nailing fin. I get that this method would not damage as much of the stucco. However, since the new window will have a nailing fin, how will it fit into the opening if we don't cut around the old fin?

As you can see, the stucco needs painting anyway so we're not worried about matching the color. We hardly ever see this side of the house. If we add wood trim, it would be for convenience rather than because we're eager to dress up the windows. Eventually, we'll also be replacing the bedroom window shown in the photo. Would wood trim work around this window even though it it raised from the wall? If we install would trim, will the stucco still need to be patched underneath it?

You mentioned that the stucco will have a tendency to crack where it is patched. Can the cracking be prevented by making a jagged edge around the window instead of cutting a straight edge? We're leaning toward installing wood trim. The window store rep asked me if we want a stucco key on the new window. She said that if we're adding wood trim, it may not fit well with the stucco key. What type of frame should we order for this window?

Sorry for the long post.

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If you're bent on putting in a new construction finned window, then by all means, tear up the wall, cut the stucco out past the fin, whatever. This sounds like a big project for you, but it's just a window.

I don't want to sound critical, but you're over thinking this. If you have someone experienced doing this, let them do it. If it were me I wouldn't do the fin, but that doesn't mean it's wrong to do it with the fin. You wanted to know how to do it yourself, but from your questions I'm lead to think you should let the contractor guy do it. Just make sure you flash/drip cap above the window, and foam around everything with LOW expansion foam. If patching stucco isn't a problem for you, then the preserving the stucco around the window is no big deal and makes it easier. I'm sure you will be pleased with the end result.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:53PM
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For the easiest and cleanest route, Google stucco flange or frame jump.

That will get you from point A to point B most quickly.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:43AM
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this has disaster written all over it.. i guarantee you will not be saving money by doing this yourself.. use a pro and save yourself alot of trouble and money.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 12:38PM
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You're absolutely right. I do tend to over think things and explore every option before starting a project. Since I don't know much about windows, I'm trying to avoid making a mistake. It drives my husband crazy. He thinks we should leave the old window in and just proceed with tiling the shower which includes tiling around the window.

If I understand correctly, what you're suggesting is to order a window with a block frame rather than a fin. The low expansion foam with reseal the window and re-stuccoing won't be necessary? It sounds like a good plan. We'll discuss this with the guy who will be dong the install and let him deal with it as you suggested. Thank you.


Thank you for your suggestion. We did consider the retrofit windows but our windows (especially this one) are too small for this option to work for us. We would lose too much glass. We plan to replace this window with one that is about six inches taller.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 12:58PM
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Thanks for your advice. We won't be doing the install ourselves. My questions were probably misleading.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Cut the stucco back, pull the entire unit and flange, install new flanged unit, seal the sill prior to setting the window, flash the jambs and the head, install new trim (if you use Azek you need not cap/wrap the exterior of the trim), and install a drip cap.

That would be the way I do it at my home.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 2:31PM
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+1 on windows method

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 2:51PM
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Thank you Windowswashington and millworkman. I just spoke to someone at a window store that sells Simonton windows. He said that using low expansion foam around the window would void their warranty so perhaps tearing it out is the way to go. I'm not sure if Milgard has the same policy.

It seems that people on this forum prefer the Simonton 7300 over Milgard Tuscany. Apparently Simonton will match Milgard's price. Milgard has nice locks. I also like the bulky frame of the Tuscany but maybe it's a bit much for this size window? The window store said that both brands have the same lifetime warranty.

How is the Simonton window superior to the Milgard Tuscany? Anlin is also about the same price. I'll be looking at the Simonton and Anlin windows tomorrow. It isn't a big deal which window we choose for the bathroom but I want to get an idea of which one is best for the remaining windows.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 4:50PM
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Simonton does not automatically void their warranty due to the use of foam. They will only void it if the installer bows the frame due to the improper type of foam. There should be no issue if the installer knows what he's doing. Either Milgard or Simonton are good choices and I'm certain you will be happy with either one assuming you get a quality install.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:41PM
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He is incorrect as Eco said above.

I would be happy with either.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:08AM
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I would add that whenever I hear statements about voiding warranties because of foam, I always ask if the person making those statements has ever used foam insulation. Most of the time, if they are being honest, they haven't and don't want to lose a job because of it.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:11PM
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