Just to explain why we had to replace all of our windows (for those of you who live where there's always fabulous weather): here in Kansas, the single-pane windows freeze over on the inside from condensation in the winter. When it's really cold, we can't see outside from our living room except through the insulated kitchen awning window we put in. Also, wood sliders don't hold up here. Ours never opened. The wood swells with temperature changes and varying humidity levels and we found as we demolished some of them that the metal parts inside had rusted out almost entirely so even if the wood was still the right size and shape, they wouldn't have opened anyway. We also require screens on our windows to keep the flying bugs out and the kitty cats in. So we didn't rip the windows out and throw them away because we didn't love them. We really did! But the point of them was to create a positive relationship between the inside and outside and in our case, the existing windows were creating a completely negative relationship!
Replacing the Sliders
This part was easy thanks to Andersen Windows having a standard size that fits the opening just perfectly! It doesn't appear on their website that they even do standard sizes anymore so in case you're ordering your own, the ones we got were 59 3/4" x 31 1/2" actually (I think they were called 60x32) and they worked great for us. It left just enough shim space and wiggle room in the existing opening. The only dilemma we've had with this style of window is how to trim it out. Because they just barely fit in a 2x4 wall, it took us a while to come up with a good way of trimming the interior out that seemed consistent with the trim throughout the house. Here are some photos and a section I sketched up real quick:
Replacing the Door/Full Height Windows
We got our door from Trustyle, which had a door type that matched the existing only we wouldn't be able to see daylight through this one! After careful measuring and finger crossing, we selected the TSL2020 2'-8" x 6'-6" x 1 3/4". Then we bought some 4x4 Douglas Fir posts and fitted these out to act as our door jamb just as the original doors were designed, only we used a 4x4 post on each side for stability. Our original post was completely rotted out at the bottom (most likely from water condensation). Here are some photos:
Once we got the posts in place after hours of measuring and fitting, we then proceeded to build the windows completely wrong. The way the original windows were made, they were installed from the outside on the face of the "frame." You can see where they were installed in the photos above. What we did wrong was to build the frames in place in between the "frame" members. We thought this would be easiest for some reason. It pretty much worked out though until we made another huge mistake. When ordering the insulated glass, we were not told and didn't realize that the seal on the insulated glass was about 5/8" thick. We'd counted on having about 3/8" overlap of the stops. See below for the disastrous results (of course we realized our error after completing the entire wall of windows).
The most frustrating part of the whole experience was that it was so hard to find information about doing this. It turned out to be not such a big deal, but we wasted a lot of time and money figuring that out. Making your own windows is not rocket science. It's as simple as you'd expect. There just isn't any info online and people look at you crazy when you even mention it. So it was really important for me to write this super long post so that anyone else in a similar situation can see that it can be done! I'll probably write another post about how we finished out the door frame. You wouldn't BELIEVE the looks you get when you tell people that the 4x4s are the door frame and you just need the door and the parts and pieces, not a whole jamb! Yikes!
Anyway, we LOVE LOVE LOVE our awning windows and we especially LOVE LOVE our master bedroom full height windows and fully functioning door!