Two of the homeowner’s most popular exterior renovation projects are siding and window replacement. Each project, in its way, will enhance the look and style of a home, while also improving its value, adds Drew Doheny, a property management in Rincon. Homeowners, in general, often prefer to do these two projects at the same time, since a home’s siding is connected to its windows.
But, this is not always possible due to cost and time constraints. When a homeowner is faced with a choice between replacing siding or windows first, which should they choose?
Windows, siding, and moisture management
The best way to answer the question is to first explain a little about a home’s moisture management systems. Quality windows and siding are vital for protecting a home from water intrusion and damage, but they are not enough. In addition to window and siding, other components need to be in place. These include flashing, cladding, sheathing, taping, and water-resistant barriers.
They all work together, seamlessly, to keep the home safe from moisture. But, even when these components are all present, it does not guarantee that the home is protected against moisture.
This is because, in addition to having the right components, those components must be installed in the right order. The steps for installing a home’s moisture management system are very precise. If one step is done in the wrong order, it will compromise the effectiveness of the whole system.
This is even if all the systems components are present. Windows and siding are critical to protecting a home from moisture damage. When owners ask whether to replace windows or siding first, they are unknowingly asking about the proper order for installing the moisture management systems of their homes.
And this is why the best answer is always; install windows and siding at the same time.
Why windows and siding should be replaced concurrently
Usually, when homeowners want to replace either windows or siding first, the reasons are cost and time. But the truth is that most savings are achieved by replacing window and siding concurrently. Even though doing this involves a bigger upfront cost, that cost is lower than the sum of doing windows and siding separately. But in addition to saving money, there are other good reasons to replace windows and siding at the same time.
- Complete moisture protection: Since window and siding work together, installing them at the same time guarantees the most protection against moisture infiltration and damage.
- Better insulation: A home’s insulation is like a giant envelope consisting of its exterior and interior surfaces. Replacing windows and siding together keeps that envelope intact.
- Prevent mold and mildew: The best way to keep mold and mildew from growing inside the walls is to install siding and windows simultaneously.
- Lower costs: labor and material costs for replacing windows and siding separately are much higher than for replacing windows and siding concurrently.
- Coordinated style and design: Replacing windows and siding together ensures uniformity in the style and design of both. Homeowners can get the exact look they want.
If you have to choose… replace windows first
Only when it is not possible to replace windows and siding together should the option of doing them separately be considered. And in that case, the windows should always be done first. The reason many tasks must be completed during windows replacement before the siding is installed.
If the siding is done first, the installed components would have to be removed to install the windows and then replaced afterward. This roundabout way of carrying out the work will cost extra in time, material, and labor. The reasons for replacing windows first are:
- Capping: That is the protective aluminum or vinyl covering that is placed over exposed wood trim to prevent water infiltration. In replacing siding before windows, the capping will likely get damaged and need to be replaced. Again when windows are eventually replaced, they will have to be capped all over. This additional cost can be avoided by replacing the windows first.
- Moisture barrier: Correctly installing the moisture barrier that surrounds the window requires part of the siding to be removed. This often results in damage to the siding, even if it is new. It also adds steps to the installation process. This extra step will result in additional costs, which can be avoided if windows are replaced first.
- The proper fit: Getting the right fit when installing windows requires them to be replaced before siding. This also allows them to be finished precisely. If the new siding is already in place, the contractor will not have enough room to correctly fit the windows. They would have to be extra careful not to damage the siding. This would prevent the windows from being set in place and finished properly.
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