Angie talks window replacement on stucco homes

Dear Angie: We have recently purchased a stucco house built in 1930 and the single-pane, steel windows need replacing. We were told by one company that they would not do full-frame replacement windows in a stucco house for fear of ruining the stucco. What they would do is fit a new window inside the old frame (which is what the previous owner did upstairs). The problem with that is that there was a considerable loss of actual 'window'. I'd like to get some advice. – Daniel K., Boston

Dear Daniel: Cutting through stucco without causing damage can certainly pose some challenges. Behind the stucco is a layer of wire mesh that can be difficult to slice through. However, with the right tools and expertise, a reputable professional who has experience working with stucco should be able to safely remove the old windows and add new ones with little or no damage to your home’s exterior.

If the stucco does crack in places, though, this could cause some potential problems, but nothing that couldn’t be rectified relatively quickly and easily with minimal expense. You’ll need to have any areas damaged during the installation patched and repaired quickly to prevent moisture from penetrating your house. Find a reputable company that can apply stucco to any damaged areas. Once the stucco is applied to the necessary areas, a uniform paint job will bring it all together.

Another option would be to add an exterior trim to fit the architectural style of your home. The trim would cover any damage to the stucco from the removal of the old windows and installation of the new windows. Again, you’ll still want to have any damage repaired, but the trim will hide any visible scars.

Some contractors might not want to take on this type of project if it’s outside of their realm of experience, so it’s important to find someone who is well-regarded and experienced in working with stucco.

Also, if you’re home was built before 1978, any trim around those windows could contain poisonous lead paint, which if disturbed during a remodel, could pose serious health issues to those who come in contact with it. Make sure your contractor is trained and certified in proper lead safety techniques under the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines, known as the Renovation, Repair and Painting program.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a provider of reviews you can trust on contractors, doctors, dentists and other service professionals. More than 1 million consumers across the U.S. use Angie’s List to help make tough hiring decisions easier.

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