giant windows, window installation, watertight sealing, air sealing, insulation

Mastering the Art of Installing GIANT Windows: Expert Tips & Techniques.

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

It’s no secret that designers are incorporating more joinery into our homes, especially in high-end custom homes with giant window openings. However, when choosing larger glazing systems we need to consider more design, manufacturing, and installation considerations.

Have you considered how to easily access these window openings? Will you need a crane, scaffolding etc.? Does the glazing need to be manhandled a long way from the delivery vehicle to the window openings? Over rough terrain? The more people involved in the installation, the higher the cost, so it’s crucial to consider access and installation before finalizing the design and ordering the windows, especially if time and cost are important to the project.

I’ve noticed many specifiers and project owners opting not to use specialist window installers, instead choosing their own builders. However, these builders are not always the most adept at installing these windows and can take two or three times longer to install the joinery, often with subpar results. For complex jobs, my recommendation is to use joinery installation specialists. Let builders focus on building and let joinery experts handle the installation.

In today’s video, Matt visits Stephanie’s site once again to examine some window installations and discuss a few unique design and manufacturing considerations for this unconventional house build, which features some large windows.

Stephanie will her expert tips on how her team seamlessly fit large window glass panels into large openings. How they prep the openings before install, and also discuss high-quality trim work, air sealing, and custom insulation choices to maximize both functionality and aesthetics.

Now, over to Matt and Stephanie.

Mastering the Art of Installing GIANT Windows: Expert Tips & Techniques

Video Transcript

I’m Matt Risinger and I’m Stephanie Dailey and the build show is on the road. I’m visiting Stephanie down here in Utah. Stephanie what are we doing on today’s video?

We got a really great window and door package from Pella that’s the reserve line and we’re installing one of the largest windows in that package today that has some pretty big structural moles. These windows do not look light. What kind of weight are we talking about Stephanie? 600 lb per unit – so the total window itself is about 1,200 lb today.

We’re going to be talking to Stephanie and her crew about how to install these giant windows. I think you’re going to get some great tips in this video. Today’s video is sponsored by Pella. Let’s get going!

Alright Stephanie, let’s start with prep. I suspect you guys did a lot before I got here to get ready for this. We did. These big windows, best thing to do when you start installing a giant window is check your opening.

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Make sure your opening matches the window that you need to install in it. Um you know sometimes we have window changes or things that we’re on the plan that are different on the window order. So step one there and then next, what we’ve done is the plate that the structural mole goes into this, we want to be flat.

We want the bottom of that window to sit flat on the floor okay. And so the most important thing is this plate. If we just set it on top now would be on top and the window would kind of drape over the edge. Okay so we’ve routed out a channel for this plate to sit recessed and flat with the wall. Goa! Then the guys came through and put the zip stretch tape on to prep the bottom of that opening.

Okay so let me, let me back up one quick second. I think I know the answer to my question but these windows I’m seeing behind us they were factory mauled in a pair and then ultimately with the big opening here you’re going to maul those two pairs in a one big four.

So when you say 600 pounds that’s for that pair of windows I’m seeing behind correct? Yeah per window or about 300. Got it, per piece and and everything that you’ve said prep wise makes sense to everybody.

I do want to point out I think it’s really wise for you guys to put the stretch tape and make a seal pan even even though you’ve got a giant uh porch right above us here it looks like a 12T deep porch really smart to do that whether you need it or not uh that’s really wise.

Now talk to me about the next step in prep before this window actually goes in? Yeah so we’ve got got our channel routed out we’re taped up here the guys have measured everything we’re good to go. So they’re going to go through and start putting the silicone on the opening.

We want to make sure that this is watertight like you said we’re covered we have a covered patio outside of the space here but 10 20 years down the road if someone remodels we want to make sure this house is completely watertight. Makes sense.

Guys have gone through they’re putting silicone on the opening and then they’re going to bring in the first piece and set that, make sure that is right and in the right spot before we get them together.

I just realize though, uh how come we’ve got a looks like a bottom plate down and then your stretch tape you’re not sitting it right on this Advan X Factor? Yeah that’s an interesting detail because this room we’re in right now turns into a basketball court pickleball court gym waso the floor we’re using is a traditional sprung basketball court floor.

Oh my gosh yep it’s a it’s a lot more than just your nail down hardwood so we’ve got 38s of rubber we’ve got horizontally stacked sheets of half inch and then our nail down hardwood on top of that.

So in other words that nail down hardwood doesn’t make it all the way down to your advantech and that floor has some spring and is that like a maple floor like you see in gyms? Yep true clear maple and then I guess that is going to ultimately flush up with where you are here too huh?

Exactly oh man your guys are that looks heavy that it’s a it’s an incredibly heavy unit so yeah that is a real heavy unit it’s always scary when you start moving those big pieces of glass and there’s a big structural mole I can see from the factory on there already?

Yeah so the same mole piece that we’re installing to center these two giant windows together that’s already happened between these pieces here. Pella did that in the factory so when they ship these windows they’ll ship them in sizes they can fit on a truck sizes they can bundle and package safely.

So um plus you don’t want to handle a 12 under bound window on the jobsite exactly you can avoid it you don’t want to have to lift that thing. I bet you guys have done that before at some point in your career but exactly another key thing you’ll notice here that as far as prep goes when the guys are setting they’ve pulled the plastic off that window before setting the suction cups on.

Just extra precaution cuzz if you had that suction cup on top of the film it could actually pop off and you’d have an accident on the job. Yeah it’s always better to be be safe, make sure that you’ve got that suction cff directly to the glass so that you’re really pick you’re using the woods power grip.

I love those too those things are awesome aren’t they? They’re great that’s like the gold standard of suction cups in the building industry. Yep those are awesome. Let’s let the guys get this next unit in and we’ll catch up with you in a minute. Perfect.

Alright Stephanie talk me through what’s going on in this structural mole. This is a small sample that I got from you guys so what’s happening with this mole? So you got the plate here you can see the guys came through and just loaded this up with silicone make sure that we’re really nice watertight. They will get the bottom plate put in there just like that.

Okay so this plate just fits right on the top of this? It does. So we have the aluminum that they’re using for the mole. Hm silicon they got everything screwed in we’re ready to place that up and then we’ll test fit this next section get get the other side of it siliconed and get it in.

Gotcha I’m not an engineer but I play one on TV. I’m assuming this probably helps with wind load so as the wind’s blowing up and pushing against these windows this is keeping those windows nice and stiff?

I will assume when you get a big opening a big sheet of glass like that especially something that’s not uh framed out by a thick jam with a door or something it’s just it needs that extra strength to make sure that it doesn’t move. So this is pillow’s solution pretty much.

Alright so then once that mole’s in place I’m assuming we’re ready to grab the other 600 lb unit? Shockingly this is going I mean it’s obviously a testament to your crew prep this is going in really quickly and easily yeah I can tell you one of the other things that is really unique about us installing these is the guys you’re watching install it are our team of finish carpenters.

How about that? So this is finish carpenters installing these door or these windows in this case you know the benefit to that is they’re the ones that are going to come through and do the trim on every job down the road so if we’ve got finished carpenters installing the giant windows we know they’re right on.

Yeah we need do uh we need to get you if you haven’t already do a whole video about your finish carpentry team and why you guys decided to uh have your own team of finish carpenters and I suspect you probably also sub some carpentry out but you’ve got your people that’s such a great tip.

If you guys don’t know already by the way Stephanie shooting videos over on the buildshow.com she joined the build show network this past fall we’re super excited to have her and while we’re in this quick interruption here uh for those of you watching this in the beginning of 2024 Stephan are going out to the international builder show in Las Vegas because Pella is launching a brand new innovation and we’re really excited to see what that looks like.

We can’t tell you what it is but we can’t tell you that you’re going to be like what, how has no one thought of this before?

Something that Stephan and I had to sign an NDA to be able to look at and it’s really really cool they’ve been working on this in a while and at IBS Stephan and I are going to be on veil on that. So if you’re going to the international builder show make sure you come to the P booth look for the uh times when Steph and I will be at the booth it’s going to be really really cool.

That being said looks like this mole’s almost ready. Let’s get this second window going in. Uh looks to me like you guys kept the 2×4 that probably was a shipping 2×4 on the bottom is that I’m assuming that’s just to protect that outside flange?

It is yeah get it outside you can see right now the guys are starting to unscrew it and they’ll get that off and then get it set in. I haven’t seen this nail flange before on this it’s a nice thick kind of aluminum flange I like that. It is yeah and are you guys uh using just some roofing nails to install this what are you doing?

We’re not so we choose to use screw SC and uh a couple reasons one it’s just a little bit of a tighter set but two you know if we ever need to adjust something if we get that giant window in and we need to kind of tweak the plumb a little bit we can we can rack these out and put them back in. So ReadySet oh man oh yeah they got it nice work boys holy cow instantly warmer it really is holy cow once that wind stops.

Stephanie you guys make it look easy I’m impressed. It’s a big window these guys are really skilled so they’ve done it a few times I’d say say so. So it looks like a couple of screws on those structural brackets top and bottom all the screws in the nail flange all the typical uh Huber Zip system weatherization on the outside.

Uh and then what’s your typical plan for air sealing inside what do you guys like to do? Uh it depends on the client really we give them a lot of different options. Um this one we’re not entirely sure yet we’ve left them a few options on the table for different types of insulation or say an air barrier. Um but ultimately it’s their decision and then we just adapt and move forward from there.

Impressive work guys really impressive work. Big thanks to Pella for sponsoring today. Some gorgeous windows in this project and I think we got some great tips from you and the crew Stephanie on big window installs. Guys come see us at the international builder show we’ll put a link to all the P products we talked about in the description below. In the meantime go follow Stephanie on Instagram and go check out her videos over on the buildshow.com.

Stephanie you’ve seen me close out a video before will you will you help me I think I can do that. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram otherwise we’ll see you next time on the build show!

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