Introduction: Add Window to Shed

About: I'm a problem solving guy from Colorado. My profession is software engineering, and my hobbies include woodworking. I want to share a lot of knowledge with instructables since I've gained so much already.

I have a simple shed that I use as a workshop. Working in my shop I realized that a window would allow me to have a breeze in the summer, and bring in sunlight in the winter. My budget is $100, and I'm not particular about insulation, building codes, or weatherproofing, which is good, because I really didn't insulate, meet any codes, or provide safety from the weather at all.

The end result is functional, and safe, but you really shouldn't follow these instructions for any structure you care about, like a home or commercial property. Proper wall strength is important, and the energy efficiency of this installation is not good at all.

Step 1: Idea/Design

Every instructable should explain the motivation behind the decisions made in the project. This project especially, because I'm guessing you can't find the same supplies, or don't have the same shed as I do.

Benefits of a window in the shed:
 - Light: a southern or eastern window will probably be a big help in the winter.
 - Breeze: A window on the opposite side from the door would create a cross breeze that will cool the shed down in the summer.
 - Space: Third benefit, If I am working on something large, there's a chance I will open the window to fit the cut.

 - Money: In this case I was thinking $100, but I got away closer to $60.
 - Structural Integrity: I won't do anything that I think has a good chance of destroying my shed, or causing major(expensive) damage.
 - Time: I want a simple, fun project. I don't want something that will take the rest of the summer to finish.

The conclusion I initially came up with was to find a small, inexpensive window, and try to fit it in between the existing frame of the structure.  Once I started shopping for a window, I changed the design to create space for the specific used window I found.

Step 2: Finding a Window. Materials. Tools.

I wanted to do this cheap, and I have lots of flexibility.  So I went to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. [ ]

I found a window that was about 48"x41" (1.2m x 1m). I tested the opening and closing of the window. It was a nice pvc window with dual panes.  It was $42.  The price is right.  A lot of windows start out with a nail strip on the outside. That would have been great, but there weren't many used windows with them, and none in a useful size. Color didn't matter to me, but the one I found was beige.

There were two problems:
1) The 48" width meant that I couldn't fit it using the existing wall studs, because there is only 46.5" between fours studs.
2) It doesn't fit in my car.  I removed the panes, and put the window frame on my mini trailer.

This is the complete materials list I used:
 - 1x window. $42
 - 1x piece of aluminum flashing/drip edge $8
 - 5x 2"x4"x96" studs. I had several large scraps left over. $13
 - A bunch of 2.5" drywall screws. I already had them
 - 2x shims. I already had them

Complete list of tools:
 - Hammer.
 - Circular Saw
 - Compound Mitre Saw (I could have used the circular saw instead, but this is easier)
 - Hand Saw
 - Drill
 - Marker
 - Straight edge (about a 48 inch one.)
 - Clamps

Step 3: Clean Up the Used Window.

The window had some leftover silicone from the previous installation. So I used a razor to remove it. I also removed the window panes, so I could use the frame without breaking my back.

The plastic on the window is a lot stronger than the silicone, so you can put the razor at a shallow angle and it will cut through the silicone without scratching the plastic.

Step 4: Remove Studs/Demolision

Good demo starts with a good layout and plan. Ideally, the frame around the window would have 1/8" (3mm) extra room on each side, top and bottom.  You really don't want the wall to depend on the window for strength.  My shed has walls that are '16" on center' which means the centers of the studs are 16" apart.  Between 4 studs, there is 46.5", so I can only use one of the existing studs. 

I decided to use the right side, and the top of the existing wall, and move the left stud, and fasten a beam on the bottom.

Before removing three studs from the wall, I was worried that the wall would sag, so I jammed another board under a strong part of the wall.  I left this board in place until I refastened the left stud. I'm not sure if this was needed, but I don't regret it.

For demo, I needed to cut two studs, and remove the leftmost stud. All the studs were nailed in from the top, and from the outside (to fasten the siding), and from the bottom. The top and bottom nails were a real problem because there was another stud above, so I couldn't pry them out.  If I had a Sawzall, it would have been possible to just cut through the nails, but I don't have one of those.  I cut the leftmost stud a foot (0.3m) or so from the top, and pried each piece off of the nails.  I then had to cut the nails with a dremel cutting tool.

The two studs I shortened, I cut above the final cut, and pried out the top piece.  Then cut the nails again. 

All the nails holding the siding from the outside were removed with the claw part of the hammer.

Step 5: Reframe

Cutting the bottom studs to length means measuring the height of the window, adding the width of the stud (1.5"), and the gap then measuring from the top of the wall. Measure twice, cut once! I also like to make the mark, then hold the window frame up to make sure it makes sense. 

I cut the two new pieces to length.  You could use nails to put the new pieces in place, but screws are easier, and more precise. I used pocket screws for the vertical stud. That's not necessary, you could just angle some screws. Make sure every joint gets two screws.

Note: This is really the minimum framing, which is fine for my shed.  In a more important structure, the side studs would be doubled up, and the top and bottom studs would be lots stronger (2x6 or more).

Step 6: Cut the Hole

Wait until you have enough time to finish the window.  After you cut the opening, any weather can cause a lot of problems until you finish. 

Throughout this process, keep placing the window frame in the opening to make sure you are not doing anything crazy. During one of these tests, I noticed the right stud is not straight.  I don't want to fix it, but I don't want to cut the hole to follow the stud, so I marked where I wanted that corner of the hole to be.

For each of the four corners, drill a 1/2" (1 cm) hole through to the outside. These just mark the corners so I can find them on the outside.  The material on the outside of my shed is 1/2" OSB siding, which caused a lot of chipout when I pushed the drill through. I should have been more careful, but it's going to be covered.

Go outside, and use a straight edge and marker to mark the cuts. Just connect the dots.

From the outside, use a saw to cut out the hole. A jigsaw could do the job, and is probably the safest choice. I chose a circular saw, because it was quick.

I couldn't get all the way to the corners without overcutting, so I finished up with a hand saw. If you are not sure of your cutting skills, or you are worried about your layout marks, cut an inch or so in, to remove most of the wall, but leave enough to easily cut to the desired size.

Step 7: Seal the Opening, Sort Of...

I added a piece of flashing to the bottom, just to keep standing water from accumulating on the bottom of the window. I am confident I don't need more sealing because the door has nothing, and all the wood has held up for years.

I just cut the piece to length, and nailed it in. I didn't bother to use silicon or anything here or anywhere.

Step 8: Install the Window.

The window can now fall out, because there's a hole in the wall.  Get some help, someone to stand outside so you don't knock the window out.

I want the window to operate properly, and be square, so I put the window panes back in.  It's really important to have help because it definitely moved around a lot, and having someone on the other side of the wall helped a lot.

Put shims on all sides to make the window stay put.  You want to have a shim on every place you are going to put a screw from the window frame into the studs.  If you don't have room for a shim, then it had better be flush with the stud.  The side with the crooked stud meant I couldn't use a single shim to fill the gap, so I used a scrap piece of hardwood.

I chose to make the outermost part of the window to be flush with the siding.  Before I fastened the window, I made sure the window was flush all the way around. I also made sure the windows opened and closed properly. 

Once the screws were in place, I trimmed the shims.

Note: Again, this is just for my shed, in a real window situation, you might care a lot more about things like sealing the window, or making sure it's plum/level.

Step 9: Add the Trim

I didn't take a picture from the outside at this step, but there is still a gap around the window. I want to cover this with trim that matches the other features of the shed.

I used 2x4s to create the trim. I covered part of the window with this trim, and all of the gap. I started with the bottom, then attached both sides, and then finished with the top.

I had to be careful to hit the stud on the other side of the wall.  This was especially tricky on the side with the crooked stud, but I made the measurements, and marks, and made the holes in the right place.

The screws I have are only long enough to get about a half inch into the stud if they stopped flush with the trim, so I used a larger bit to countersink each screw by another half inch. That window is not falling to the outside!

The trim just needs a good waterproof paint, or some primer and paint. 

Step 10: Clean Up/Finished.

I then cleaned up. I think it worked out great, and I'd like to encourage ambitious folks to take on this project themselves. It was pretty simple. I managed to finish it all in a weekend, without ruining my weekend fun. I am really looking forward to enjoying this new light, and breeze in my workshop while I work, making furniture, toys and tools out of wood.