Installing Window in a Brick Wall

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  #1  
Old 03-03-07, 05:48 PM
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Installing Window in a Brick Wall

I've got a 8' section of load bearing wall that separates the kitchen from a nice view -- so I'd like to install a 48" wide window. There isn't any plumbing or electricity in the 48" span of wall I'd like to use. The inside of the wall is sheetrock and studs' the outside of the wall is brick. As far as I can tell, the brick is just a facade and the 2x4 framing does all the load bearing. (I say this because the brick facades are only present on small parts of the exterior -- the rest is siding...)

So, a few questions:

1) What is the best way to remove brick with the hopes of reusing some for trimming out the new window?

2) While I have a 48" wide x 36" tall hole in the first story of a two story (~20ft) brick wall, are there precautions that need to be taken to avoid some kind of collapse? Furthermore, is there some type of reinforcing that needs to be installed between the brick cutout and new window?

3) Could someone tell me if my general plan sounds good? Here goes:
a. take down the sheetrock walls in the kitchen.
b. frame the new rough opening w/ header, sill, king studs, jack studs, etc.
c. carefully remove enough brick to slide the window in
d. flash, secure, caulk the window
e. replace bricks around the window and do some kind of caulking.

THANKS in advance to all the great advice I know I'll get.

Bill

PS - (Let me know if I should have posted this in "Framing"... I figured I get the brick experts here, though.
 
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Old 03-03-07, 07:59 PM
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Speaking as a window installer (not a bricklayer), here's how I would do it.

Firstly, I'd remove the drywall in the area that the window will be going, to expose the framing and the back side of your sheathing. Once the framing is exposed, determine exactly where your window will be:

Determine the height of your header (usually about 82 1/2" off the subfloor) and mark a level line across the studs. Measure down and mark where the bottom of your rough opening will be (for a window 48 wide and 36 high it would be 37" down from the bottom of the header). Then determine where the sides of the rough opening will be, making a couple reference marks on the sheathing.

Now find the exact center of the rough opening and drill a hole through the brick with a rotary hammer and a long bit. This will be a reference point once you go on the exterior of the brick.

Set up your scaffold outside and using the hole as a reference point, draw the outline of the window on the brick. Keep in mind that you will likely want window trim around the window, and a sloped soldier row of bricks along the bottom of the opening. (If it makes it easier to patch your brick, you could also stack bond bricks around the perimeter of your window trim.) So rather than a 48 x 36 opening, you'd want an opening in the brick at least 52 1/4 x 40 1/4" (if you wanted 2" brickmould trim around 4 sides of the window) plus the opening you cut in the brick would need to be larger for any extra brick you need to cut out (5" longer on bottom for the sloped brick sill, 4" more on left and right sides if you want to stack bond the perimeter instead of weaving new bricks in around the perimeter.) Determine the exact amount of brick you will need to cut out so that you can do it all at once.

At any rate once you determine the size of the opening you want in the brick, I'd cut it from the exterior with an electric (or gas powered) saw with a diamond blade. You'd want to ensure your marks are plumb and square so that when you cut the opening it will be perfectly straight with the plumb and square window you will be installing. Don't cut too deep and cut through the sheathing. You only need to cut about 4" to 4 1/2" deep.

Once the brick is cut, it could be removed. Personally, I think that if your bricks and mortar are in good shape, I wouldn't worry about anything cracking or collapsing. You should demo a few bricks in the middle and work out from there. A few of the bricks should be tied to the house.

At this point you still have not cut through the sheathing. (this is giving you a lot of time to fix the brick while still keeping the house water-tight.) Repair any building paper around the perimeter of the brick at this time by installing new strips of building paper across the bottom and sides. You should prepare and finish the brick opening before doing anything else, ensuring it is the right size. A steel lentil will need to be retrofitted across the top of the brick opening as a permanent support.

Once the brick opening is prepared, then you would demo the interior, (leaving as much original framing as possible, such as the studs that can remain below the rough opening. Plan ahead and cut them off at the correct height!) install your header between 2 king studs (can make the header extra wide and install between existing king studs), support the header with 2 new jack studs, and lay a sill plate across bottom of the studs you cut off at the proper height to finish the bottom of the rough opening at the correct height. Using the hole you drilled (through the brick) in the sheathing, determine where the sides of the rough opening will be and install the studs between the header and the sill plate. Do all of this while leaving the sheathing in place.

Once the rough opening is framed the correct size (plumb, level and square) then you are ready to cut the sheathing out. Once it's cut out, nail the perimeter of the sheathing to the new rough opening. Your new window is now ready to be installed and trimmed. If your brick opening is the perfect size, it along with your exterior trim will just fit, being centered in the brick opening.
 
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Old 03-04-07, 08:15 AM
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XSleeper,

Thanks for the awesome reply. You gave me a lot of great info. I have one last question -- the steel lentil: what is the best way to secure the lentil to the top of the cutout? I've heard of some people installing lentils that were square shaped and covered all 4 sides of the cutout... I've also heard of people installing a lentil only at the top of the cutout. If the latter, what's the best way to secure the lentil to the top of the cutout?

Thanks again for the great info. Really appreciate it,

Bill
 
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Old 03-04-07, 10:42 AM
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As I mentioned, I'm no bricklayer, but I believe that the steel is often shaped like an L, and 2 bricks on the top left and right will need to be removed (or at least their mortar removed) so that the steel (cut 3" longer than the brick opening is wide) can sit on top of existing bricks and once it is in place, it would need to be tuckpointed in on the sides and top with new mortar.

Once the new lentil is installed, all you see is the bottom of it, since the rest is behind the bricks. I've also seen steel lentils that had a concave area on bottom to act as a drip edge, so that wind blown water would not continue to run back toward the home.
 
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Old 03-04-07, 11:14 AM
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Awesome, thanks a lot for your help.

Bill
 
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Old 11-10-08, 01:35 PM
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Price if I can't DIY for this sort of work?

(This is a great thread -- amazingly helpful and complete answer.)

One follow-up question.. I hope someone has time to help:

I live in an apartment in Brooklyn and want to under-take a similar project (with co-op board approval) to punch a window through an outside facing brickwall off my apartment .

Given that I'm on the 3rd floor and the co-op board insists that anyone working on the project have full insurance, this unfortunately isn't a DIY project.

Can anyone give me a sense for what I should expect to pay a contractor for this type of a service?

Thanks in advance....
 
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Old 11-10-08, 04:07 PM
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Hi Newbie, welcome to the forum.

Since it's 3rd floor, there will be the additional expense of using a lift or setting up a scaffold- plus many contractors will charge more the higher you go, simply because it takes longer to do and its more hazardous for the workers. There may be several subcontractors involved- masons, framers, window installers, drywall/plasterers and trimmers. Depending on who does the work, they might be able to do several of those things at the same time.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the labor for such an install be $3000 to $5000, plus the cost of the window. If you can limit the number of different contractors involved, you'll surely save some $$$.
 
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Old 11-27-08, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by wdntexas View Post
XSleeper,

Thanks for the awesome reply. You gave me a lot of great info. I have one last question -- the steel lentil: what is the best way to secure the lentil to the top of the cutout? I've heard of some people installing lentils that were square shaped and covered all 4 sides of the cutout... I've also heard of people installing a lentil only at the top of the cutout. If the latter, what's the best way to secure the lentil to the top of the cutout?

Thanks again for the great info. Really appreciate it,

Bill
xsleeper is right on the lentle but you can get by with remiving the mortar joint about 8 inches left and right of the opening because the mortar and brick that are there are already set. If possible, I try to attach the lintle to the framing but it may be tough. One thing I like to do when cutting into a load bearing wall is to temp. support the ceiling inside with plywood and 2xs until I get the header in place. May prevent cracks in the brick and/or drywall.
 
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