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Counter-height Windows

Posted by kaidan (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 27, 10 at 14:05

We have found out that our window over the sink needs replacing. Figures. We were down to studs and it would have been an easy fix then but now plaster, floors, etc. are done and we find out it leaks. Apparently this old window has been doing it for years but we never knew. I mentioned getting a new window when one of our workers was replacing the siding on our house and came along rot. He convinced us that was not needed. So that's aggravating!

Anyway, a friend of DH is going to install our cabinets. We asked him to replace the window above the sink. I said I would like a counter-height window in its place. Friend says then that he will do the window after the cabinets are in place. Is this common practice? I figure by this point, it's the only option bc cabinets are going in on Saturday. Any advice to how to go about the counter-height window? I would love a bump-out but I don't think DH is on the same boat. But either way, he does want the window down to the counter. The window going in has pushed off granite templating which stinks. I'm assuming the granite goes up to the window.

The window we are replacing will not be very wide but I'm excited.

Any advice or good pictures along the way that I can pass onto DH's friend?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Counter-height Windows

With the cabs I've done for customers the concern with counter height windows is the counter top itself, especially if you want a continuous surface. Even if they are not exactly the same there can be issues getting the counter top in underneath the window sill. What I would recommend is to make it 2" higher. That means no problems during cab installation, yet you still get the full view.


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RE: Counter-height Windows

We aren't doing a window sill. The whole point of the window to the countertop was to have the continuous granite back to the window without having to worry about trim getting in the way. The granite will basically go right into the area where a window sill would have been. There is not going to be any wood trim on the lower part of the window. I had my windows put in first. I don't have cabinets and countertops in yet so I can't tell you if it worked or not. I know there are several people who have windows to the countertop so hopefully they'll chime in with how it was done.


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RE: Counter-height Windows

We are doing this. We moved our window over 17" and then bumped it out 6" - we used a 2x12 for the framing, so my sill is about 10".

Our granite is going back to the window. I wouldn't want granite to butt up to the wood sill. I think it would look odd.

The big thing is to make sure it's not a shear wall. If it is, evidently making ANY changes to the window means additional measures need to be taken. Ours was a shear wall (meaning it was designed with stuff to counter earthquake and lateral wind forces). We did the work before the permit and THEN learned it was a shear wall. We had to do seismic retrofitting with foundation anchors. We had to buy very expensive drill bits that were over 2' long. We borrowed the equipment to run these bits. All in all, it was close to $700 of unanticipated expense and 3 good long days of work, and it would have been way easier to do in the process. If the cabinets were already installed, we would have had to taken them out and strip the wall to studs to drill and place the anchors into the foundation.


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RE: Counter-height Windows

Well the cabinets will be in before the window gets fixed (95% positive).. the granite will be held off until the window is completed. Our walls are not shear walls so hpefully that's one thing going for us from the start!

I guess as long as the contractor puts the bottom of the window to the cabinet level then we should be all set for the granite lying flush into the sill? Fingers crossed.


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RE: Counter-height Windows

Our granite on our counters also continues onto the windowsills. Hopefully the attached photos will be helpful to you. Our house is stone so the windowsills are 18" deep.

Here is a link that might be useful: granite windowsills


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RE: Counter-height Windows

We installed our window before floor and cabinets were installed...

It's not that difficult...all you have to do is measure carefully and explain what you want to the window installer. Show them a picture as well.

I would not raise it 2" b/c it will look like a mistake, like you planned for counter-height but missed. Either plan for counter-height or 6" or so above...and I recommend counter-height.

Additionally, if you can do it and it will fit the architecture of your house, bump out the window 6 or 7 inches to give you a "splash zone" (see links below) and extra room behind the sink.

Here's how to measure:

  1. First, are you replacing your current floor? If so, will it be before or after you put in the window?

    • If before, you need to know the thickness of the floor and the materials used to put in the floor. E.g., our tile floor went in after our window. So, we had to know how thick the tile was (3/8") + thickness of thinset + subfloor/hardibacker (if either will be put down).

      Then, we had to subtract the thickness of the vinyl that was still in place but was going to be taken out later (1/4") [If your floor is already out, you won't have to do this step.]


    • If the window will be going in after the new floor or you are not replacing the floor, you can skip this step.

  2. Next, find out the height of your cabinets themselves. Most are 34-1/2" high. But, if you have raised or lowered your counters you will have a different height.

  3. Now, determine the thickness of your countertop material.

    • If granite, is it 2cm or 3cm? Generally (in USA), the west coast has 2cm and the rest of the country has 3cm. (1cm = 2.54 inches, 2cm = 0.79", 3cm = 1.18")

    • If 2cm, you will need to know the thickness of your plywood subtop as well.

  4. Add these numbers together and that's how high off the floor you will need to place your window.

  5. Depending on how much you trust your window installer, cabinet installer, and countertop installer, you may want to add a half-inch or so for "wiggle" room, and but I would not want to add much more. 1/2" or so can be "hidden" with a sill so it won't look like it's a mistake. Our window height ended up being about 1/4" higher (window installer's mistake), so we put in a sill to hide that 1/4" difference...you can't tell (at least I can't...and that's all that matters!) If its "perfect", you wont need a sill. Also, be sure you can use the window crank (if casement).


Here's a slideshow of what we did: Measuring for a Counter-height Window

And, the final result:


Some threads:

Thread: counter height window pictures please (scroll down to MamaDadaPaige's and ErikaNH's windows for bump outs)

Thread: Counter height window owners--Help!


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