A contractor who does a lot of work in our townhouse area has a rep for slow
but very good work, and his workers are supervised well. He's replaced all
our windows with Farley vinyls (double hung, casement and one large picture
window), and finished the job yesterday, August 30. The old frames were torn
out completely, replaced with new wood frames.
- The interior pine finish trim around the windows meet with drywall which
is not straight. There are gaps of up to 1/4" or more in places, between the
back of the trim and the walls, even though the workman did mudding.
- The sills aren't solid, and move when I press fairly lightly on them.
There is little support below the sills.
The workman was going to leave it as is, so the boss came by today to check.
He said he'd fill the space with DAP compound, but wouldn't use mud.
I don't want to be unreasonable, and not knowing this trade is no help. I
live in Nova Scotia, Canada.
What are the industry standards for these things? Many thanks in advance.
Ideally, the window jamb should be flush or slightly proud of the
interior wall finish so that when the window casings are installed,
there is no gap between the casing and the wall. The window jamb width
needs to be equal to the total wall thickness (stud + exterior
sheathing + interior drywall) for this to work out right. If the
windows jambs are not the right width, there is probably little that
can be done about that problem, since you most likely can't trim a
vinyl jamb. (It's easy to do this with older wood windows.)
If that's the case, one thing that can be done is to cut a rabbet in
the back of the window casing where it meets the jamb to account for
the difference in how far the jamb protrutes from the interior wall
surface. Of course, this only works if the difference is small enough
and the casing is thick enough, which sounds like it is not the
situation in your case. And in any case, this is something that a
typical replacement window installer cannot afford to spend time on,
unless you are paying a premium price for excellent work (Our neighbors
paid ~$1K per window for replacement windows in an old house that
required extensive amounts of this sort of attention to detail.)
I can't see the windows from here, but my guess is that you are stuck
with the gap and just need to fill it. Caulk is your friend in this
case, and is fairly common thing to do to fill smallish gaps, although
1/4" sounds like a greater than average gap to me. Don't fill the gap
with drywall mud, that will eventually crack and show the seam. That
is unless they are willing to put on a 1/4" thickness or whatever is
required, and then feather it out across the wall to bring up the whole
wall surface flush with the back of the casing. (And which you will
obviously need to repaint a large area.)
The "stool" is the flat horizontal piece at the bottom on the inside,
which is commonly and incorrectly called the sill, which is what I
assume you are talking about. The stool should be nailed such that it
is solid, so I would complain if it moves when you press on it. The
trim piece that goes flat against the wall underneath the stool is
called an apron, which in addition to provinding a finished look to the
window, also provides some amount of support for the stool. Was this
Call back your installer, and use words like stool and apron, that will
make him think you know what you are talking about. Perhaps that will
help convice him that he has a bit more work to do.
- DAP caulking is fine to fill the gaps. Better than mudding, since it won't
crack as much.
- Sills should get better support. I had the same problem and ended up
adding the additional support myself by piling two layers of plywood in the
cavity to get the right thickness (about 3/8" in my case). I could do this
because the bottom trim wasn't on yet, since I was doing the trimming
myself. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the installer to add support
to the sills.
If you have pictures, that it always helpful in diagnosing things like
this. Please post to a website somewhere, and then include a link
If you can easily move a stool by pressing on it, then I consider that
a big concern. You should be able to sit on it without it detectably
moving. The shims will perhaps help. Test it again after they shimmed
to see if it made a difference.
Yes, all the different terms can be rather confusing. And we didn't
even get into sashes, rails, stiles, muntins, and stops yet! ;-)
Well, you can do the casings any way that pleases your aesthetics
(sp?). The traditional way is to have casings on the top and two
sides, where the sides go down and terminate at the top side of the
stool, kind of three sides of a picture frame. Then an apron goes
below the stool, with the apron oriented "right-side-up", rather than
upside down like it would be in a picture frame. Many casing profiles
are thicker on the outside edge than the inside edge, so this way, the
thicker outside edge is helping to hold up the underside of the stool.
It sounds like your is not oriented this way, so the casing below the
stool doesn't provide any additional support. But that shouldn't
matter if enough of the stool rests on the sill and is nailed securely.
(The sill is the slanted part that slopes to the exterior.) Actually,
I'm not all that familiar with vinyl windows, but I suspect that the
stool may just nail to the rough framing that surrounds the window.
That would explain why they stuck in some shims below the stool, the
shims in this case probably go between the stool and the framing. If
that's the case, then perhaps all you need is more shims.
Good idea. Withold until the gaps are caulked and the stools are
I couldn't find a site which permits online viewing, so I sent a zip file
with jpgs and a text file to this site:
You'll have to download the zip. Sorry!
Please don't select "remove" or "delete" after your download, so others may
access the file if they wish.
Ok, here it is again. :-)
He said a "sill" is not made to be sat or stood on.
Very little shimming was done, and a nail was driven into the trim of the
large window. Offers very little support.
The contractor just called. Not happy, but will remove trim and cut strips
to support the stool.
OK, got it. Now I see better what you are talking about. All of the
pieces we are talking about really aren't part of the window. The trim
pieces on the side, which would be called the jamb if it was part of
the window, should have been cut so that they were flush with the
drywall, or if they came out slightly proud of the drywall, a couple
minutes with a handplane could easily bring them flush, unless your
drywall is particulary uneven. This would have prevented the need to
fill the 1/4" gaps between the casing and the drywall. If you ask me,
it's just laziness on the part of the installer.
Although the stool is not intended to be a place where people sit, it
should easily be able to support a persons weight, or at least the
weight of a person leaning on it. It looks to me like the stool is
fairly wide. What happens if you set a large potted plant on there and
it sits and gradually makes the stool sag? From your pictures, it
looks like it's just a piece of 1x (3/4" thick) ripped to the necessary
width and nailed in place over the rough framing with not enough shims.
Shimming is not hard to do at all. Judging by the width of that window
in the picture, it looks like you could simply put shims in 5 or 6
places along the lenght of the stool and that should be plenty to make
it solid, especially once you drive nails in horizontally through the
casing along the bottom edge into the stool. For the bottom casing,
there should be nails in through the top edge of the casing that go
into the stool, and more nails that go through the casing into the
rough framing below. That will firmly attach the casing to the wall,
and also firmly attach the casing to the stool to help support it and
prevent the casing from bowing away from the stool and opening up a gap
in the future.
The more I see and hear about this, I think the installer is just
trying to do the bare minimum when installing the windows, and hope
most people don't complain, and then when someone like you is a bit
more picky than the average homeowner they just shrug their shoulders
and have to go back and spend a bit more time to make this one person
happy. So it sounds like you are trying to hold them to a slightly
higher standard than what they are used to providing, which I think is
a good thing in this case.
Thanks again for the advice and support.
Vinyl has caused large changes in the construction and installation of
The contractor said he'd arrive at 9 a.m. tomorrow, so I'll know soon how
this will turn out.
I've asked around and visited some places today where he's done work in our
townhouse neighbourhood. His reputation is good, in that he has redone jobs
even after he's been paid.
I found the same loose stools in some places.
Thanks for the support from the newsgroup. I learned enough about windows to
The contractor today had the shims redone. They're now perpendicular to
the stool, extend to the edge of the stool, and are spaced about 12" apart.
The stools are solid, the job is well done, and there seem to no hard
Having supported and strong stools seems to be common sense. You're right; I
watched the 1" x 6" wood being ripped. Today I looked and took pictures. The
shims had been placed sometimes only in the middle.
Last evening I checked just up the street at two places he's done, and found
the same loose stools. I've also heard nothing but good about the
contractor. Partly, people didn't notice the stools because most people
don't look for good construction, I think. It helped to talk with others in
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