I can see clearly now…

So, sorry for another really long post, but there are just so many pictures to share! This week was an exciting week for us. We finally got new windows!! We’ve been dreaming about them since we moved into our house, and since I started working again, we’ve been able to save up the money very quickly (the money I make from my part-time Accounting gig goes straight into a designated “house fund.”)

Our windows are original to the house (built in ’84) and aluminum.

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They are double pane windows, but all the seals are broken, so they’re in a constant state of cloudiness.

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They had a tilt and latch feature for the bottom sash, but once tilted, they were almost impossible to close again. Andrew always had to come bang on them for me. Just a few weeks ago, I tried to open these front windows in our living room, and the lift mechanism on the one on the right broke so the window wouldn’t stay open.

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Good thing we were getting new ones, or we would’ve had to put a stick in it to hold it open! We already have a stick in our sliding door to “lock” it. Classy stuff, right there. (Ugh, and don’t judge the back yard!)

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As if we needed more justification for new windows, the latch at the bottom was impossible to open and close. If I really needed the windows open, I had to squeeze the latch with a pair of pliers. If I didn’t use them, I usually pinched myself and still couldn’t open the window! Forget re-latching them. Had to wait for Andrew for that.

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They didn’t look so bad from a distance, and I actually really liked the black color with our dark brick.

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But from up close…scary.

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The back of our house is just a total disaster in so many ways.

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Ick, and those double layered curtains in our master bathroom? Not sure why I left them there for so long, but the frilly white layer is finally gone!

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And the poor Flufferson…he just wants to be able to look outside, but he couldn’t see anything through the drips and moisture congregating inside the window. Nah, I just included this picture to further demonstrate the grossness.

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Now that you get the “why” of our getting new windows, here’s how it went. The installers came early Tuesday morning, and began on the front of the house. They got through those 3 windows fairly quickly and painlessly, other than the instance where the aforementioned broken lift mechanism shot across the room and almost killed me.

Then they did this window in our bedroom.

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A quick aside about this wall. The massive closet behind this wall and the extended area of our master bathroom were an addition, so we’re assuming there used to be a bigger window in the middle of the wall. It seems like the actual addition was done professionally, as we’ve seen no signs of moisture issues, settling cracks or uneven floors, etc. However, we think some of the finishing touches were done, let’s say, not so professionally, including this window.

The installers popped out the old window (though not so easily this time as the glass broke), put in the new window, and one of the guys caulked inside the installed windows while the other worked on the trim on the outside. The back ones are against siding, not inset in the brick, so they took a little longer. Andrew decided to come home to inspect and raise any concerns, if necessary (I’m too polite.) We freaked out when we got to this one. You could literally see outside through these gaps, the wall was cracking all the way around the window because of these trim pieces, the caulk line had already settled and broken before it even dried, and the whole thing looked like it was sagging.

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Sorry, I don’t have any better pictures as they all sprung into action before I could grab the camera. The previous “installers” (most likely the homeowners themselves who were lazy and took the easy way out) installed the aluminum window inside this wooden frame. They did this because there were no studs close enough to which they could attach the window. After taking the window and wooden “frame” out, we saw that they had just cut a square hole right in the wall and popped in the window. It was secured only by the mud over the top of the trim, caulk, and the trim pieces on the outside. So NOT the right way to do it.

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The bottom part of the wall beneath the window was very unstable and shook way too easily. I’m so glad Andrew was around so he could do all the reinforcing. I’m not sure they would have done it to our liking, and they most likely would have charged us a ridiculous amount to do it. If they even would have done it at all…

The stud on this side was at least 6″ away, so Andrew decided to add a new stud. He cut holes in the wall above and below so that he could insert a floor to ceiling stud. He screwed it into the beams at the top and bottom to secure it.

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On the left side, the stud was a bit closer, so he just added some wood blocks to act as a shim for a partial stud which he screwed into the wood blocks.

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He also needed to brace the bottom and top of the frame, so he used his jigsaw to notch out the leftover studs above and below.

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 And then added horizontal pieces and screwed them up/down into the studs.

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 This opening was still bigger than the window we had ordered (based on measurements taken before we knew this would be a problem), so then he added back the previous side pieces and screwed them into the new supports on each side. Because of these, we had always had a crack around the window anyway, that we tried (and failed) to conceal with mud and paint (we had no idea they weren’t secured!) This time, though, they will be hidden because we’re planning to trim out the windows soon. And don’t worry, it’s water/air tight because of the trim and caulking on the outside. We might caulk the inside, too, just for good measure.

He also put back the old window sill to give it the height it needed to accommodate the window. It’s not routed the same as the sills in the other rooms, so whenever we trim it out, we’ll fix that too.

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Then the installers put the window back in and screwed it into the new, sturdy supports. Later that day, Andrew stuffed the insulation back inside and screwed in some new sheetrock. (Obviously we took the curtains away during this process, but had to put them back up to sleep that night!)

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Also, I’m really bummed about all the work we now have to do to get this corner back in shape. Just a few days ago it was looking like this.

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Now we have to mud and sand, prime, paint, and reinstall and recaulk trim. Oh well. We wanted to make sure it was done right. Honestly, we’re lucky that window didn’t leak before…or just fall out of the hole entirely.

Anywyay, moving on to some before and afters. I was really nervous about getting white windows because of our brick. And I just like black windows…I think there’s something so architectural and beautiful about them (Nice black windows, of course). But that would have been over $1000 more. And they were only going to be black on the outside! Boo. So white it was. Here’s before.

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And after.

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Yeah, I was hoping seeing them would dispel my uncertainties. But no, it hasn’t. Still really unsure. They look like…eyeballs. Or something. They’re so glaringly white!

This angle maybe isn’t so bad…

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I haven’t given up hope yet, though. We’re planning to repaint our house soon, and we want to do grey with white trim. I’m hopeful that incorporating some other white elements will tie them in a bit more.

They do look nice from the inside, except that I keep looking over at them (these ones in the living room in particular), and feeling like they don’t belong in my home. I realized I think it’s because to me, they’re reminiscent of a new build. Not that there’s anything wrong with new builds, but personally we prefer older, “pre-loved” homes. The black windows to me would have been something unique. They also feel “cheap” for some reason. Again, I think it’s because they’re common looking, because though they were the best quote we got, they weren’t cheap!

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They do have some really nice features that I’m super excited about, though. They’re double hung, so both sashes move. Both sashes also have the tilt-in feature for easy cleaning. I’m so excited to clean them!!

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Each sash on these bigger windows is heavy, and even though the window guy showed them open like the picture above, I’m kind of nervous to just leave them hanging there. The bottom sash has to be open to tilt the top sash, though, so in order to clean the top one you’d have to let go of the bottom one.

As I said before, both sashes move, so you can open them from the top or bottom.

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Or if you really wanted to party, you could do both!

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They also have these cool little clips that pop out and keep the window from being able to open any further. You can use these when they’re opened from the bottom or from the top.

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If you had young kids that might try to open the window further, this would be a nice feature…especially on a second story. He also presented it as a security feature if I want the windows open while home alone. I’m sure they’re not super strong, but I think they would reasonably prevent someone from being able to open them further. They only allow the window to be open a few inches, so sticking your hand inside wouldn’t work either.

We got these installed by a place called New View Windows. The windows themselves are a brand called Window Mart, manufactured right here in Arkansas! Of course, according New View Windows, they’re the best window available (in our price range.) Not sure if I believe him entirely, but they were nicer than the other samples we saw and a little bit cheaper. Plus we really love that they’re made in our own state!

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 These also have the Argon gas in between the panes and the Low-E coating. It is amazing…even when the sun is shining right in one of the windows, it feels like the same temperature in front of the window as everywhere else in the house. Kitties probably won’t love that, but hopefully it will be good for our energy bills! The Low-E coating does seem to keep it from being as bright, but if it helps save on energy, costs, I can deal with it! If you want more specific information, check out the double hung window page on their website.

For 7 windows and installation, we paid $2,173, but this didn’t include the door. We opted not to replace it through Window Mart. We want to switch to a center hinged patio door, but he quoted us nearly $2000 for it (installed)! It’s a custom order door at Lowe’s or Home Depot and would have cost around $1200 just for the door. We found a building supply place that does the configuration in house, so I think we’re going to get it there. It might not be as great of quality, but it should be less than $600. Especially in a house in this price range, it seems like the best choice.

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So, what do you think? Do they look like eyes? And what about the shutters? We really don’t have much to paint on the front (the detailed wooden garage door will be the bulk of the painted area in front), so if we don’t do the shutters white I don’t know if there will be enough to balance out the windows. Ah, decisions!

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