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What to look out for in casement window install?

Posted by blondelle (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 28, 11 at 9:09

I'm having some large 6100 casement windows installed by Home Depot this coming weekend. Supposedly I was given their best, most experienced team. Anything I should watch for as they are installing the windows? Any guidance in this would be much appreciated. Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

Hopefully, you did some research before choosing HD. I would insist they use spray foam insulation but I doubt they will. HD is not known for high quality installations. You will very likely get a very basic install.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

Yes, I did a lot of research. I'm working directly with the manager of the department so hopefully it will be OK. I've had so many people come out there and quote me very high prices, or not even bother to call back at all. HD has a customer satisfaction guarantee where you don't have to make the final payment until you are fully satisfied. I just want to know what I should be checking while they are installing or right after. Thanks!


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

I'm sorry blondelle, but I'd have to agree with skydawggy. Certainly, you should hope for a good experience, however, that product is not highly regarded. On the installation side, they use a revolving door of subcontractors who are paid less than the "going rate" in most areas.
Things to look for:
First, look for them to be neat in appearance and show a level of respect for you and your home. A couple guys in a rusty pick-up with holey jeans will be a red flag. On the install itself, check the squareness of the installed window by lifting each sash about 1/4", then check to see that the gap is consistent from side to side. Look for low-expansion foam to be used (as mentioned already), look for nice clean, smooth caulking, etc. One of the most critical things is the flashing/capping/water management system, however, unfortunately it would be difficult to explain to you how that should be done. At the very least it should look tight and professional.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

Supposedly I was given their best, most experienced team.

So - the most experienced Home Depot team in the country just happens to service your area? I'd be suspicious. I'd ask for references for the sub-contractor and see what they say.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

I have to agree with Dennis. That sounds like something just to appease you.

Homesealed made some very good comments, too. I would strongly suggest you heed his advice. The 6100 series is the same as the Simonton 5050 which is Simontons lowest end window.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

We've installed casement windows ourselves and from our experience, what to watch for depends a bit on the kind of situation. I take it this is a replacement window, as ours was? New house or old? Good construction or poor? And are you changing the size of the opening or any of the framing, or is it a straight replacement? Ours were also wood windows which I imagine yours are not, so I may be of limited help.

Our walls are not fully framed correctly, do not have studs right adjacent to the opening, and in one case the wall was not even entirely flat (old house, really old house). So in our case, we had to be putting in new studs, or at least new 2x4s, to ensure there was something to attach the window to, and also to later attach inside and outside trim to. You'll want to make sure they are attaching to solid framing.

I know it sounds really stupid to say this, but at minimum you want the window to be level, and vertical. For us that was harder than we expected! You want it protruding evenly inside or out all around, not a top corner jutting out and the opposite bottom corner jutting in. If there is some play with respect to the opening, decide whether you want it put as high as possible or as low as possible, or left or right. You want the windows to close and open well, so don't let them leave until you have tested each opening. You want to see them attach the window securely on all four sides so there is no pivoting or wiggling.

The other thing you don't want is to have the window being wedged into too small an opening. Measuring mistakes happen. If it is close, measure carefully, and don't be afraid to say "let's get another window, shall we?"

I agree that you want flashing along the top, but how important this is depends on what is outside. If the window is under a significant overhang, you'd be amazed what you can get away with. There is both waterproofing, and wind sealing. I don't know a lot about how this is done in modern houses so perhaps the advice given by others above helps with that. One thing we have is very wide casing on the outside so despite having no foam or caulk in yet, we have no rain penetration. That's another example of where "it depends" on what the details of the situation are.

Although I am not a big box fan either, I can't imagine that HD got to be the size it is by failing at installations. It may not be fine craftsmanship, but from landscaping to windows, it isn't all rocket science and ordinary able-bodied people equipped with tools and a modicum of brains should be able to handle it. And if the local fine craftsmen couldn't be bothered to return your calls or quote in your ballpark, more power to HD! Hope it goes well.

Karin L


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

No disrespect karin, but there are some pretty major things that need to be addressed in your post.
Just let me say this:
1. Anyone planning on diy window installation should spend some time reviewing videos, diagrams, etc on the anatomy of a window, how it works, and how it should be installed.
2. Flashing, sealing, and insulating a window are absolutely critical to protecting not only the investment of your new windows, but the investment of your home itself. How would you like to tear open a wall 5 years after a window installation to find rotted and moldy wood and drywall because it was not flashed properly?... or to have brand new windows that leak more air than the ones that they are replacing because of improper installation? These are issues that is see with some regularity.
3. The reason that I do see those issues is due to improper installations by diy's who did not do their homework or are just not mechanically inclined, or by so-called "professionals" who just don't care to do things the right way. These are the type of guys that you find working for "cut-rate" prices, whether it is for a box store, a discount $189 shop, or just working out of his rusty pick-up with a case of beer on the front seat.
4. Lastly, your comment "I can't imagine that HD got to be the size it is by failing at installations", is severely flawed because they are not an installation company. They got to be what they are by selling retail home improvement products. They do that quite well in fact. It is fairly common for a company that is greatly successful and does one thing well, to then get greedy and miserably fail at another when it does that thing poorly.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

+1

Very well said. I couldn't agree more. McDonalds is a huge company too, but they didn"t get there by providing quality food.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

HomeSealed, we opened the wall to install our new window to find exactly what you have described - moldy wood behind a cracked window box into which an oversize aluminum replacement window had been crammed some 30 years before. We were getting a new window in part because the old one was so drafty the wind would blow the curtains around on a windy day.

So yes, we studied the anatomy quite thoroughly. But studying didn't change the fact that, for example, the old wall is not precisely flat, is built with 2x3s, or that there are no... can't recall now if jack or king studs is the right term. We also couldn't argue with the fact that the house has been standing for over 100 years, so we didn't get our knickers in a knot. I actually think the inside wainscoting holds it up :-) Also, we think the mold only formed in the last 20 years since we put in spray foam in an effort to draft-proof. These old houses seem to stay healthy more by enabling water to escape than by preventing it from getting in, and we probably messed that up.

Also - climate matters, no doubt.

As for HD, I suspect they suffer from the same syndrome as any other customer service company - the only customers who go on line to discuss their experience are the unhappy ones. The happy ones are sitting in the back yard sipping cocktails enjoying their perfectly fine fence or what have you. I'm not denying the horror stories, but the OP said she's done her homework, and she didn't seem to have many options. Plus, she's here trying to make sure she knows how to avoid becoming a horror story.

Karin L


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

Sorry Karin but I have to disagree with your assesment of HD. Most of the people who choose them for work are too lazy or too busy to spend time doing research and resign themselves to the precieved safety of the big box.

Many of the people I have met over the years who purchased windows from HD initially claimed they were happy with their windows. When the deficiencies of the window they had installed such as Silverline/American Craftsman were pointed out, the response was usually "well they are better than what I had". Well, of course they are better than what they had. The problem is the new windows are about the same quality as what they had and soon will develop the same problems as before.

When deficiencies in the installation are pointed out, the response is usually, "well, the installers were really nice and from what I could see, they did a great job". Well, of course they think it's a great job, the homeowner really has no way of knowing if it is a good job or not because they wouldn't know a good job from a bad job. They went to HD due to their need to have a warm fuzzy feeling and never bothered to research and learn the difference between a good and poor installation. As an example, most HD installations I have seen did not include cladding the brickmold or insulating the jambs. If the homeowner insisted, they got a very basic job with no detail. But the homeowner still thinks it's a great job because they have nothing to compare it to.

I'm not saying that HD does a bad job on every install. Some of the subs they use are decent enough installers and some even have their own companies and do installs for HD to supplement their own client base. But there are also a lot of losers working for HD who have bounced around the industry and couldn't get hired by the better window companies due to their track record. Some even have drinking and/or drug problems. The homeowner has no way of controlling which one they will be assigned by HD.

The point is that you may get a decent install with HD, but then again you may not. If you don't know the difference, you will not even know unless you have done the research. I have run into very few people who went with HD after educating themselves. I have met very few who knew they got a substandard window and install immediately after the job was completed. OTOH, I have talked to a lot of people who have cheap windows installed and/or a poor installation 10 years ago who aren't as exhuberant as they were back then. Truth is, low grade windows can be precieved to be great when they are installed but sadly, they deteriorate much faster than quality windows do.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

All granted, and well said. The way I saw it though, the OP here had made his or her decision of windows and installer, and was only looking to increase the chance that it would go well.

One thing I will add, though, is that sometimes in an industry, the "better companies" are their own worst enemies. We hear about this over on the LD forum often too, and it actually just came up again there. They don't call back, they won't take the time to do small jobs, and they communicate badly - can only talk jargon. Less true of landscaping but more of the building trades, they have impenetrable websites if any, no advertising in the yellow pages to help a customer understand who offers what services, and no sales staff with the time to help a customer make sure they're getting what they want. No displays to help a customer educate themselves and make decisions. Open M-F 8-4, closed weekends. Offices in the industrial park.

So these companies have evolved into only being able to talk to other contractors and GCs, because that is more money for less sales/communication work. For the customer who wants to go about doing that homework and research you suggest, those companies are inaccessible, intimidating and often simply won't take the time - no interest. They figure they're in the trade, not in sales.

That leaves a huge vacuum in the market at the bottom end, and it is really no surprise that other companies like HD have evolved to fill it. Put up displays, be located conveniently, open long hours, with friendly staff who can talk at your level about the details of your piddling insignificant little project, and offer some element of confidence... all that, and not the actual installation, is the competitive product.

Through our nearly 20-year ongoing renovation (often stalled for years at a time), I - as a now middle-aged woman, previously as a younger mom with kids in tow - have been in innumerable of these specialty outfits, because as I said, I'm not a big box fan. I go out of my way to find the "better companies," and have been treated astonishingly badly in a lot of them, written off as stupid, had my needs and wishes swept aside and otherwise discounted because "that's not the way it's done" or "you can't get that," not been given crucial information, and been outright ignored as if they think I must have come in by accident. If it's windows, for instance, they're too busy building windows to sit down and talk to me about the window I want. I've had good experiences too, but this is why people go to HD, and I don't blame them.

Funny, isn't it, that it takes a company as big as HD to pay attention to the small jobs?

Anyway, when you disparage people who go to HD, you might want to make sure there is a viable alternative. The OP here didn't seem to have found one.

Karin L


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

I can't speak for the OP's issues. I only know that there are a lot of window companies out there who do care about their customers and will take the time to listen to the customers needs and make suggestions as to the best and most cost efficient way to approacj their project. I do agree with you that often the consumer is deluged by companies with huge advertising budgets that are driven only by sales. I disagree with you that their only alternative is the big box. I also disagree that a consumer can't find the middle ground between the high pressure, high priced dealers of which some actually offer a decent window even though they tend to be on the higher end price-wise, and the low priced, poor customer service companies. There is a middle ground and it's not too difficult to find if you learn to ask the right questions. In this case, the consumer is very likely paying a premium price for a very average window.

I do agree that the process can be confusing and frustrating for a consumer and often they do end up in the big box because of that. Which is sad itself because the BB is driven strictly by profits also and they also recognise that they do not have the most knowlegable sales people so they try to appeal to a consumer on a price level. I think that over paying for a very average window is worse than over paying for a high quality one. And that's the travesty of the BB.


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

karinl, I would say your points are accurate when it comes to home improvement contractors in general (ie: not customer friendly, no showrooms, etc) and yes, a place like HD can pick up some of that slack... Windows, otoh, is a COMPLETELY different beast. You would be very hard-pressed to find an industry more that is more refined and competitive when it comes to servicing clients... Elaborate showrooms, advertising, 3 hour sales presentations with samples, literature, interactive demonstrations with heat lamps, etc. in fact, there is so much and it is so overwhelming that many companies (such as my own) actually position themselves in the market as "anti" sales-pitch. That does not mean by any means that we don't want to educate consumers, in fact, that is our primary goal: to educate consumers to cut through all the bs... I can't speak for others, but that is the reason that I contribute to blogs and forums, so that people can find out the truth. That means calling out the rip-off artist companies that price-gouge and use aggressive and unethical tactics, as well as calling out companies (such as HD in this case) that generally try to portray an inferior product or service as one that is good. As I and Sky have stated, it is certainly possible to get a great install from a box store, but I just try to let consumers know the odds behind that. Having been a window subcontractor myself in the past, I found their pay rates laughable. Highly skilled and experienced workers command higher pay in any industry. My point was only to point out that their pay is rather low, and people can draw their own conclusions based on that. It is a fact that most consumers probably don't know, but one that I think is very relevant.... It sounds as though the OP has already made his/her decision, however their are plenty of other folks that read these posts .


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RE: What to look out for in casement window install?

FWIW, we carry Simonton Prirm Platinum Windows as a small part of our overall offerings. The Double Hungs, Sliders etc are decent but the Simonton Casements are some of the ugliest Casements I have ever seen. I'm willing to bet the OP never saw an actual sample of the Casement b/c if she did, and then compared it to a Casement made by Sunrise or Softlite, one of our other 2 brands, she never would have bought it. I have never seen HD or any other BB display anything but a Double Hung. BTW, we price our Sunrise Casements very close to our Simontons. I have never had anyone choose the Simonton Casement over the Sunrise Casement once they saw them both. So much for Big Boxes serving the consumer.


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