Category: Doors & Windows


How To: Clean Window Screens

Do your window screens look dingy? Is dirt from your screens blowing into your house and making your windows filthy? Sounds like it's time to clean those screens! Don't worry—you'll have them dirt-free and sparkling in no time.

How to Clean Window Screens

Photo: shutterstock.com

Window screens really take a beating. They’re constantly exposed to the sun, wind, rain and snow, and pollen and insects, not to mention all the dust that comes at them from inside the house. That’s why it’s so important to clean window screens as part of your spring maintenance routine. Here’s how to do it not only quickly, but effectively as well.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Tarp or drop cloth
- Garden hose
- Ammonia
- Bucket
- Rubber gloves
- Scrubbing brush
- Towel

How to Clean Window Screens - Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 1
The first thing to do is remove all screens from their positions in the windows. Lay the screens on a large tarp or drop cloth. It’s best to do this outdoors, because the process involves water and can get messy. If possible, wait for a day with good weather so that once you’ve finished, the screens can dry out in the sunshine.

STEP 2
With the garden hose nozzle on its lowest pressure setting, rinse all the window screens as thoroughly as possible, removing any loose dirt, dust, and visible debris.

STEP 3
In a large bucket, mix a cleaning solution of three parts warm water and one part household ammonia. Don a pair of rubber gloves, dip your scrubbing brush into the solution, and start scrubbing in small circles, from top to bottom. Remember to rinse the brush regularly in clean water as you go along.

STEP 4
Having scrubbed each screen to a sufficient degree, reach for the hose one more time and give the screens a final rinse. Now inspect each screen closely: Are there any spots that you missed? If so, spot-clean those areas to remove any lingering traces of grime. Finally, shake excess water off each screen, wipe down all the screens with a towel, and lean them against the house or garage until completely dry.

Of course, the more often you clean your window screens, the easier it will be to keep them looking pristine. For the most satisfying results, build this quick and easy effort into your annual spring cleaning routine.


Bob Vila Radio: Restoring Old Windows

If you love the double-hung windows in your old house, consider restoring—and replacing—rather than replacing them.

If your home has old-style double-hung windows with heavy sash weights on pulleys, you probably know that they’re not very energy efficient and they can be a pain to repair when those sash cords break. Most homeowners opt for replacement windows and tear out the old ones completely. But what if your old windows have amazing leaded or stained glass or some other feature worth saving? That might be a reason to opt for restoring, not replacing, your windows.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON RESTORING OLD WINDOWS or read the text below:

Restored Windows

Photo: kitchenstudio-ge.com

Restoring old windows is not an easy job, and it can be pricey. The old sashes must be removed, along with the sash weights, and the hollow channels that held the weights and pulleys need to be filled in.  Those channels are one of the main reasons old windows are so drafty — all that hollow space allows a lot of cold to infiltrate. Old windows can operate on new spring-loaded balances once the weight channels have been filled in. The sashes need to be retrofitted to work with these balances, with new grooves routed into the frames to accommodate them. It’s an ambitious project best reserved for unique or historic windows, or for windows with glass you just can’t bear to part with. But done well, restored windows can truly enhance the beauty of your old home.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Weatherstripping 101

Sealing drafts is one of the best—and smartest—ways to reduce your home's energy costs in winter and summer alike. While the concept is easy to understand, there's plenty to know about the various types of weatherstripping products and how they are best used.

Weatherstripping 101

Photo: familyhandyman.com

Weatherstripping is a time-honored method of minimizing window and door drafts. In the winter, weatherstripping prevents heated air from escaping the home and bars the entry of cold from the outdoors. In the summer, weatherstripping performs the identical role, except at that time of year, the air inside tends to be cool (in a house with air conditioning, at least), and the air outside tends not to be. Most homeowners have heard of weatherstripping and are comfortable with the concept, but some are intimidated by the highfalutin name, because it may conjure up images of a complex system or an elaborate installation process. The reality, however, is not at all scary. Weatherstripping refers to a group of straightforward, easy-to-install products that do nothing more than seal gaps in house components that swing, slide, or lift. Here is a rundown of the most popular weatherstripping products.

TAPES

Weatherstripping - Tapes

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Weatherstripping tapes are popular and inexpensive. Made of compressible, flexible material, these work well to fill irregular gaps. Most foam tapes and felt strips can be cut to size with scissors, and because they’re self-adhesive, they are very easy to install. Be sure, however, that you are applying the product to a clean surface.

Best uses: doorstops, casement window stops, double-hung window rails

 

V-STRIPS

Weatherstripping - V Strips

Photo: frostking.com

V-strips are made of vinyl or thin, flexible lengths of metal. The former option costs less and is easier to put in because one side of the vinyl self-adheres; metal V-strips are nailed into place. In either case, installation involves removing the window sashes to access the channels along which they slide.

Best uses: meeting rails, double-hung window jambs, window stops

 

GASKETS

Weatherstripping - Gaskets

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Tubular in shape and rubber-like in composition, gasket-style weatherstripping installs along the bottom of exterior doors by means of nails or screws. (Door sweeps are more common for this application.) A gasket might also be employed to seal between an overhead garage door and the concrete floor slab.

Best uses: exterior doors, garage doors

 

SWEEPS

Weatherstripping - Door Sweeps

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Door sweeps, which are made of vinyl or rubber, or of bristles with a backing, attach via screws to the bottom of an exterior door. They are commonly available at hardware stores and home improvement centers; some door sweeps go on the outside, while others are meant for the inside. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Best uses: exterior doors

 

Every home is different, of course. Each has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies—and particularly in older constructions, a host of air leaks that defy general, one-size-fits-all classification. Still, the following are perhaps the most common places where homeowners use weatherstripping to improve air sealing:

• Exterior doors (including French doors and sliding patio doors)
• Attic hatchways
• Doors to nonconditioned spaces (for example, from the house to the garage)
• Garage doors
• Windows (casement, sliding, awning, and double-hung)

First, seal any gaps around doors or hatchways that connect to the attic—this is where air pressure and air leakage are greatest. Next, check exterior doors; if you see daylight around a closed door, install weatherstripping. By the same token, if your windows rattle in the wind, that’s a pretty sure sign that they too would benefit from weatherstripping. On a cold day, it’s easy to judge these things: If the area feels chilly to the touch, weatherstripping is (at least part of) the answer.


How To: Install a Prehung Door

Prehung doors can make your life much easier, but you still need to know a few essentials in order to get the job done right.

How to Install a Prehung Door - Detail

Photo: mobilenewsblog.net

Doors come in countless different sizes and styles—from modern, flush interior doors with standard dimensions to massive, traditionally designed entryways. By comparison, there are dramatically fewer installation methods; in fact, there are only two. A door is either prehung in its own jamb, or it’s not. Installing a prehung door is considerably less complicated, but that doesn’t mean there’s no sweat involved. The following tips can help you avoid common setbacks.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 6-foot level
- Wooden shims
- 2-1/2-inch finish nails
- Hammer and nails (or nail gun)

It’s no problem to stray somewhat from the steps outlined here, but remember that no matter the techniques used, the goals always stay the same: Get the door jamb level and plumb; keep it flush with the drywall surrounding it; and maintain a uniform 1/8-inch reveal (the space between the door and the jamb).

STEP 1
When you set out to install a prehung door, begin by measuring the rough opening into which you are placing it. The opening should be one or two inches larger than the door itself. That wiggle room enables you to shim the door, bringing it to the level-and-plumb position critical to proper functioning.

How to Install a Prehung Door - Bob Vila

Photo: familyhandyman.com

STEP 2
Set the door into the rough opening. Has flooring not yet been installed  beyond the threshold? In that case, shim beneath the door jamb to account for the height that will be added once the floor’s installed.

STEP 3
Next, make sure the hinge side of the door is plumb, meaning perfectly vertical. Having checked that the door is still centered within the opening, stabilize it by adding shims to both sides, near the top. Check the alignment using a level. If the door’s plumb, hold the hinge side so that it’s flush with the adjacent drywall, then nail into the jamb at the point behind which you added shims. Go on to place shims in a few more positions along the hinge side; check level once more; then nail through the jamb wherever you shimmed.

STEP 4
Close the door and confirm that its top portion is level. Don’t waste time reaching for a measuring tool, though, if you notice the reveal isn’t uniform between the door and the jamb. That’s a sure sign things are amiss. Make adjustments by shimming the latch side of the door. Shim less when there’s too little reveal; shim more when there’s too much of one. Continue tinkering until the reveal along the top is uniform.

STEP 5
On the latch side of the door, bring the jamb flush to the adjacent drywall. The reveal ought to be 1/8-inch here; if it’s not, then adjust the shimming you have added already near the top of the door on this latch side. Once finished, nail through the jamb where you have shimmed. Now place additional shims six inches from the bottom of the door, as well as above and below where the strike plate will go. So long as the reveal remains uniform, proceed to nail the jamb at each position where you have added shims.

STEP 6
To finish, go ahead and put a few more nails through the shims you nailed previously. Your pre-hung door is now level and plumb, with a uniform reveal!


Quick Tip: Door Hanging

Door hanging can be exacting. Fortunately, these handy pointers make the task a little easier to handle.

Here’s some tips for easier door hanging. For this type of door, measure five inches from the top of the door to the first hinge, ten inches from the bottom for the second, and place the third hinge centered between the two. Plough out the mortises with a wood chisel or a router. Align your jamb to the door edge, leaving a three-sixteenths-inch clearance at the top for the swing. Plumb and level the jamb and use a longer screw in each of the hinges to reach the jack stud.

For more on doors, consider:

Quick Tip: Hanging Double Doors
Toss Your Keys: 9 High-Tech Door Locks
Know Your Door Styles: 10 Popular Designs


How To: Install Vinyl Windows

With only basic tools and limited experience, you can install vinyl windows yourself, saving the cost of hiring a contractor for the job.

It can be easy to install vinyl windows. First, make sure the window frame is plumb and level. Wrap the window frame with insulation, or pack the insulation into the void between the frame and the window. Center the window in the opening, making certain the reveal is uniform on all sides. Use shim singles to secure it in place and check for level once again. Finally, drive two quarter-inch stainless steel screws into all four corners. There you have it.

For more on windows, consider:

Replacement Windows 101
Installing a Vinyl Window (VIDEO)
Know Your Window Styles: 10 Popular Designs


How To: Shim a Door

Did you know you can use cedar wood shingles to shim a door? You can. Here's how it's done.

When installing a new door, use shim shingles as extra support between the jack studs and the door jamb. Use two cedar shingles, one vertically and one horizontally, adjusting until they fit snugly. Use three sets of shims on each side—one on top, one on the bottom, and one in the middle. Use three screws to fasten the door jambs to the frame.

For more on doors, consider:

Hanging Double Doors
Know Your Door Styles: 10 Popular Designs
Shimming, Centering, and Hanging a Door (VIDEO)


How To: Install a Pre-Hung Door

To install a pre-hung door, you need some basic tools, a commitment to precision, and most importantly, a good deal of patience.

Here’s a tip on how to install a pre-hung door. First, lift the door into place, then be sure it’s plumb. Always use your level on the hinge side. Nail through the casing and remove the factory clips, so you can test the swing of the door. Then shim the door with scrap shingles along the hinge side and secure the jamb. Now you’re ready to put your finish moldings in place.

For more on doors, consider:

10 New Uses for Old Doors
How To: Install a New Door
Know Your Door Styles: 10 Popular Designs


Quick Tip: Hanging Double Doors

If you've ever tried hanging double doors, then you know it can be tricky. For top-quality results, keep in mind these tried-and-true tips from the pros.

The tricky part of hanging double doors is that they have to meet in the middle. After hanging each door, check to see how they come together. It’s seldom perfect the first time. If they overlap by more than one-eighth of an inch, you’ll need to plane some off both doors. For smaller overlaps, only one door needs to be planed and sanded until you get a perfect fit.

For more on doors, consider:

10 New Uses for Old Doors
How To: Install a New Door
Know Your Door Styles: 10 Popular Designs


Storm Windows 101

Brand-new windows are always nice, but they can be a huge expense. You may be able to get much of the energy savings of new windows at a fraction of the cost by installing storm windows.

Installing Storm Windows

A storm window protects the window on the right; the one on the left lacks storm protection. Photo: hereandthere.org

If your windows let in anything other than a view, you may be thinking it’s time for replacement windows. But not so fast! You may want to consider storm windows instead, which offer the insulating properties of replacement windows but for a fraction of the cost. Some experts even argue that when laid over existing windows in decent condition, storm windows insulate better than replacements do. One group in particular has favored the use of storm windows over the years—owners of old houses. Why? Because storm windows allow improved insulation without harming the original windows or, by extension, the home’s architectural character.

Exterior vs. Interior
Storm windows install either outside or inside. In choosing between these approaches, aesthetics are perhaps the main consideration. Exterior storm windows alter how your home looks from the curb. Interior storm windows, in contrast, are virtually invisible from the exterior but are plainly evident indoors.

Window operability is another distinguishing factor between exterior and interior storm windows. Exteriors enable the homeowner to open and close windows at will throughout the year. Interiors—intended as a seasonal measure—seal off the windows they cover for as long as they stay in place (usually a period of months).

Installing Storm Windows - Interior

Photo: bloombety.com

Track Styles
Whereas interior storm windows comprise a single glass or polymer pane, exterior storm windows are more complex. Most feature either two or three tracks. In a two-track window, the outer track holds a half-pane of glass at the top, a half-screen on the bottom. The inner track, meanwhile, holds a half-pane window, which can be raised (to admit fresh air) or lowered (to keep cold air out and warm air in). Triple-track windows are similar but offer greater configurability.

Frame Choices
Storm window frames are typically made of wood, aluminum, or vinyl. Many consider wood the most attractive, but such frames require regular maintenance to remain in good shape. Plus, the effectiveness of wood frames can be compromised when they expand and contract with the changing weather. Aluminum frames are lightweight, durable, and low-maintenance, but they insulate less well than other materials. Vinyl, which is also low-maintenance, comes in a variety of colors, and that makes it a design-savvy choice, at least compared with aluminum. The downside to vinyl, however, is that over time it becomes brittle and requires replacement.

Installing Storm Windows - Installation

Photo: olhouseexperts.com

Purchasing Tips
No matter what type of storm windows you decide are best for your home, get the most for your dollar by insisting on some or all of the following features:

• Multiple positioning stops that allow you to modulate the amount of air admitted

• Quality weatherstripping to counteract heat loss

• Predrilled holes to facilitate installation

• Easy-to-clean removable half-pane glass and half-screens

Furthermore, you may wish to consider storm windows fitted with low-emissivity (low-E) glass. This energy-efficient technology helps keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In addition, low-E can extend the life of fabrics and floor coverings that come into contact with direct sunlight. Low-E glass may be more expensive at the outset, but over the long term, you can expect to recoup the initial cost through month-to-month energy savings.

Installation 
When measuring for storm windows, measure the height and width of the window to be covered, from inside molding to inside molding, in multiple positions. Use the smallest measurements to determine what size storm windows you need. Caulking and weatherstripping may be used later to fill any small gaps.

Exterior storm windows attach with a flange—that is, a metal flap—that screws into the existing window frame. It’s smart to caulk the point where the flange meets the frame, but take care not to caulk the weep holes. These perform the important role of allowing condensation to escape.

Interior storm windows attach in a variety of ways—with magnets or clips, or on tracks. One of the most DIY-friendly models comes with a compressible material (for example, rubber or foam) around its edges: As you work the pane into the opening, the material expands to create a snug, draft-free seal.