Finishing up the storm windows
October 17, 2005
BY Sam Bauman
Appeal Staff Writer
Last week, we built the frames for the three front windows, not without problems, such as uneven windows. But we managed to fit the frames to the windows, albeit with some gaps of 1Ú4- to 1Ú2-inch. Wooden, triangular gussets were added at each corner and in the center of the larger window. Now it was time to turn to adding the clear plastic to the frames.
Well, almost clear. The only plastic sheets we could find at 4 mm, and 10-by-25 feet, were labeled constructor’s plastic. While not opaque, it had a milky cast to it. And the large size made cutting it awkward. Cutting a section larger than the window was difficult but doable.
With a frame on top of a picnic table and two supports holding up the overhang, the plastic was laid over the fame and centered. C clamps were used to keep the plastic in place. Using a shop stapler, one edge was stapled in position. Then the opposing edge was tightened and held in place while it was stapled.
Then the ends were stretched and stapled in place. And there was one window.
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The process was repeated with the other two windows, with the 5-by-5-foot window receiving an additional frame member in the center.
The remaining task was fitting the plastic-covered frames to the windows. Yes, the frames still fit, but there were the small gaps to deal with. Self-adhering foam tape 1Ú4-inch thick, slipped into the larger gaps, and 1Ú8-inch foam into smaller spaces.
While the frames seemed tight enough not to come out, screen locks were added to the window frames to hold the storm windows in place. (We considered just drilling holes into the frames then screwing them into the windows, but that would require toe-nailing the holding screws, and since the 2-by-1-inch frames were fragile at best, we dropped that idea.)
There was a metal frame member in the center of the large window, which caused the storm window to bend a little. Shims under the screen locks fixed that.
And there they were, two 3-by-5-foot storm windows, one 5-by-5. Admittedly, the less-than-totally-clear plastic was not ideal, but since the windows were usually blocked by blinds and the view less than striking, it was acceptable for one season. We’ll find the clear 6 mm plastic for next season.
Total cost in materials was about $30, not counting the shop stapler at $10. That’s versus $500-plus for the pro job. Of course, the pros would do a lot better, but for a first try it was, if not a triumph, at least fun and maybe effective.
What did we learn?
• First, we should have used greater care in selecting the 2-by-1 framing sock. Perhaps 2-by-2 would have been better and less likely to split.
• Second, we should have used clamps holding pieces in place during assembly of the frames. Without clamps, pieces tend to wander when being assembled.
• Third, instead of wooden gussets we should have used steel junction holders, which would be stronger and less bulky.
• Fourth, when cutting the plastic sheeting we should have used a single-blade razor. Scissors and and X-Acto knife didn’t work well at all.
• Fifth, with frames larger than the picnic table we should have had supports all around the table to hold the frames flat. We finally used old supports from a three-piece dining table.
• And sixth, we should have gone more slowly, not just measured twice but probably three times and used the miter saw more carefully. The tools were fine, the user not so fine.
Bill of materials and tools
• Plastic sheeting, 10-by-25 feet, $9.95.
• Stapler (small size) $9.95, but not included in cost as it will remain in use
• Single-blade razor , ($1 for pack)
• Foam tape, 10 feet, $2.95
• Screen holders, $1.98
– Contact reporter Sam Bauman at email@example.com or 881-1236.