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Windows insulation, spray foam, taking the trim off without damaging it

Windows insulation, spray foam, taking the trim off without damaging it


Old 03-17-11, 09:06 PM
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Windows insulation, spray foam, taking the trim off without damaging it

I wasn't sure if this should go here or on the carpentry section. I'm guessing here.

Windows were installed in '96. They're ok, double-pane, in good shape. No need to replace them for a while. I do find them to be a little drafty though. I will also be putting storm windows on the outside (right now I just have insect screens) next fall.

My problem is that I don't think I can get the nice wood trim from the inside off without damaging it. It's really nice trim that I love and want to protect. If I wanted to remove this trim so I could apply spray foam insulation to the gaps, what do I do? Or if I need a professional, what kind of pro do I look for? It's bewildering how many contractors there are in the yellow pages. I'm not sure if this is a carpenter-only job, or if an HVAC person should do it? Or am I overreacting about the difficulty of this task and is it something I can really do myself without much experience?

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Old 03-18-11, 04:39 AM
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If the casing is caulked, you'll need to cut the caulk first. There are basically 2 ways to remove the trim, either carefully pry [use a scrap piece of wood to pry against so you don't damage the wall] or use a punch and drive all the nails thru the wood.
Old 03-18-11, 05:37 AM
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I wouldn't suggest you try the punch method. Using a nail set can be tricky, and if your nail heads are filled, you won't be able to find the nails. Mark is right about scoring the caulk and paint (or varnish) with a sharp knife. Use a thin putty knife to drive between the jamb and the casing. If it won't go easily in one place, try another. If the insider perimeter is tight, try the outside perimeter. The idea is to find a spot where you can start prying that will loosen it up. Once you've loosened it about 1/8" with a putty knife, then you can get out the pry bar. I like to insert a 6" stiff putty knife behind the trim, then inert the pry bar on top of the 6" putty knife. This will protect the wall and trim as you pry. If the trim was shot on with a nail gun it should come off pretty easily. Just don't pry too much in one place... work your way up loosening just a little bit at a time.

It also helps to know that the carpenter might have toenailed the corners, so you will want to be especially careful there. Put your prybar behind the corner of the miter and pry both at the same time. I think you can do this.

When you go to spray foam, you will probably need to cut some drywall back with a drywall saw to give you some space for the nozzle. Use foam that is specifically for doors & windows so that it doesn't overexpand and bow out your frames. Also don't spray too much of it. A small bead expands more than you think and you don't want the stuff rolling down your walls or getting on the painted surfaces. If you have small gaps, 1/8-1/2" or so, I'd suggest a product by DAP- Latex door and window foam. Get the cans hot by keeping them in the sun in the front window of your car or something. It works nicely for those smaller gaps.
Old 03-18-11, 05:53 AM
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One thing I forgot, is that once you have all the trim off, you don't drive the nails back out the front of the trim! This will blow a big hole around the head of the nail, damaging the trim. Instead, use a pliers to grip the nail and pull it THROUGH the trim. Either that or use a 1/16" x 4 1/2" grinder wheel to cut the nails off from the back side of the trim after you have it all removed.
Old 03-18-11, 07:27 AM
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Just another thought. Having scanned many homes with Infrared I have come to the conclusion that stained trim is the worst and painted trim is usually very good, especially in older homes. The difference between paint and stain is the sealing that occurs between the wood and the wall. Although there is an implied benefit for using an insulating foam product, the real benefit is the air sealing and a well painted trim can be caulked air tight with no leaks.

Now, where is that draft coming from? Even newer windows are poor insulators and during cold conditions there will still be a constant flow of cold air cascading off of them. I have several well sealed old and new windows and although there is a difference between them, they both have this cold air flowing off of them.

If you have stained trim, there can be several areas where cold air can seep out from that space between the window and the frame, but most of them can be sealed from the outside, varnish or such. IMO, air seal as best you can and wait until you have the storms in place to judge the difference. If you want to go high tech, have someone come in with an Infrared camera and show you exactly where the leaks are. But I doubt you will need to remove the trim. If you do, the advice above is what you need.

Old 01-01-12, 10:45 AM
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I have the same issue, but rather than taking the trim off I resorted to drilling two or three small holes through the trim and filling the voids between the window frame and the wall framing with "GreatStuff" soft foam for door and windows (don’t use the hard foam as this can buckle, bind or break your windows!!!!). I drill the holes just big enough so that the applicator straw fits snug. Also drill the hole at an angle to that you can start as deep in the cavity as possible and pull it back as you fill. The soft "Door and Window" foam will not buckle the frame, even if you overfill it. When I pull the applicator can straw out I immediately insert a tight fitting plug into the hole so that the foam do not ooze out. Once the foam is set I pull the plugs out, fill with caulk (wood filler) and paint. Stopped all my window issues. BTW, it also greatly improved the sound proofing around my windows, all without ruining the inside trim. Make sure you caulk the outside of the window frames so there are no gaps between the frame and siding/cladding. If there are holes/gaps the foam will ooze out on the outside. Happy DIY…

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