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Can I Install New Windows Directly to Studs?

Answered by Brett ~ August 24, 2011 ~ No Comments

I am installing new windows in my home. Is it against code to install windows directly to the studs with caulking when no shear wall will be applied?

Amir M. ~ Alexandria, VA

Brett Kulina

Hello Amir, although you should comply with your specific local and state building codes when installing your home's new windows, in general I prefer to see windows attached to a home's wall after a sheer element, such as OSB or plywood sheathing, has been installed over the framing. Attaching windows directly to the framing studs, can increase the chances of future water infiltration and home heat loss around the window and might even cause installations problems for the siding installers, as the wall sheathing is sometimes what supports the siding and helps it lay flat on the wall.

A reliable technique for installing windows includes attaching the window's nailing flange to the wall sheathing, after the wall has been covered with a breathable vapor barrier, such as TyPar or Ty-Vec. Running a continuous bead of exterior grade caulking on the back side of the nailing flange may also help insure that water doesn't find its way behind the window frame. Once the window is nailed in place, use a roll of 6-inch flashing tape to cover the seam between the window's nailing flange and the exterior side of the wall. When applying the flashing tape, first install it along the bottom of the window sill, then along each window side, and lastly stick the final piece of flashing tape along the top of the window, making sure to cover the top ends of both side pieces.

Take your time when installing your new windows, sealing and flashing them carefully. If you want your windows to perform as designed, then they need to be installed correctly.

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