Latest Articles in From the Field

  • Exterior sealants require special qualities. (Image courtesy of iStock, istockphoto.com.) There is no installation component more critical to a successful window/door installation than proper exterior sealant selection. Unlike interior sealants or caulks, exterior installation sealants must seal out water intrusion, without fail, for many years. If they don’t, the consequences can be... more »
  • The must-have tools that make fenestration replacement safer and more efficient
    Fenestration tools offer variety. (All images courtesy of Jim Snyder) I love tools. In my years of fenestration replacement, I’ve tried and tested numerous tools for our field. Some are fenestration-specific; others are more general, but still a must for window and door installation. Here are some of my favorites and necessary tools that make fenestration replacement safer and more... more »
  • Best practices for independent contractors
    I haven’t worn a tool belt for some time now, yet occasionally I look back on my years as an independent, hands-on window and door replacement contractor. I thoroughly enjoyed the business in many aspects: the independence, the incentive to be productive, the livelihood. The business served me well because I did a lot of things right, but only after doing many things wrong. Here are some... more »
  • An opportunity in waiting
    A sash being sprayed in a paint booth. (All images courtesy of the author.) When wood-frame windows are the best option for a homeowner, finishing them is part of fulfilling the installation process. Too often, this step is under appreciated. Many may think that it’s no big deal because there really isn’t much there to be painted or stained. But those with window-finishing... more »
  • Sometimes it's a necessity
    Onsite "manufacturing” of components requires precision workmanship and sometimes even special equipment like a portable thickness planer or a small router table. At a minimum, a portable table saw and some profiling tools are essential. (Image courtesy of the author.) In this annual manufacturing issue of Window & Door magazine, the focus is largely on the “... more »
  • Eight tips to contend the weather
    As I write this column from the comfort of my home, I occasionally glance out at the house under construction next door. The framers, bundled up from the fierce wind in hoodies and coveralls, brush snow off a stack of lumber. Just two days ago they were wearing shorts, enjoying the sunlight as they started in on the construction. Yet today they seem to march on, as always. The postman’s... more »
  • Some installation accessories, such as these exterior trimout components, are only available from the fenestration manufacturer. (Image courtesy of Jim Snyder, WindowJim) As an industry, we constantly preach proper installation of our fenestration products. The consequences of improper installation are frustrating and costly. Given a quality fenestration product, skilled installer and... more »
  • Tips on how to train and motivate unskilled laborers
    I’ve hired my share of workers and have learned some hard lessons about what influences quality employees—whether they have experience or not. As a crew leader in the field, I learned some effective tips on how to successfully train, instruct and motivate new employees, which I’ll share here. tip #1 SET THE STAGE Don’t just “start working.” Instead, begin by... more »
  • Window safety awareness is ongoing
    First, we heard the ominous “freight train” high speed wind barreling down our street in the dark of night. Then, brief silence as the 80-year old oak tree pulled up from its roots and began its fall toward our house. The crash of the trunk and branches crushing our house didn’t just startle us but made our hearts pound as limbs randomly punched through the ceiling. A moment... more »
  • Installation tips for doors
    Does your installed product operate smoothly? (Image courtesy of the author.) Doors are generally more challenging to install than windows. While many basics are similar, such as wall interface, true alignment, and the fact that both either swing or slide, some factors are very different. Doors are commonly larger and heavier and have to stand up to much more frequent operation and... more »