Windows are great for letting light and a nice breeze into your home, but everything else–pests, water, and dust–are best left outside. Windows are often the most vulnerable spots on your building’s exterior–so when it comes time to install shiny new cladding, it is around these areas that we put the most care.
When we were first starting out in the industry, we had an unhappy homeowner call us to help fix a problem left by a prior cladding installation. He had gotten a complete renovation of his home’s exterior design, only to have water leaking around the windows anytime it had rained.
That wouldn’t be the only time we have encountered this problem. In fact, when we are called to do repair work on a preexisting modern cladding project, it is usually around the windows where the problem is really stemming.
In the hopes that you can avoid this problem in your next siding project, here are some of our tips for cladding around windows.
Five Tips For Cladding Around Windows
1. Use Aluminum
We recommend aluminum for all areas of your building’s exterior, but if you are only going to use this material in one place, make sure it is around your windows! Aluminum is an incredibly corrosion-resistant metal, well suited to the wet conditions that your window frame will have to endure.
Aluminum does not rust, which will not only prevent your window’s capping from deteriorating but will also keep things looking fresh and new for years to come.
In addition, aluminum is an easily malleable material, making it an obvious choice when you have to fabricate specific extrusions and frames to snuggly fit the specific dimensions of your window. It cuts, bends, and is drilled easily while also holding strong against debris when it is fully installed on your building.
There is a reason why most window caps are made from aluminum. Whatever material makes up most of your exterior, be it wood, metal, or composite, aluminum window frames pair perfectly.
2. Wrap Substrate Before Installing Window
A cladding job is only as good as the air vapor barrier wrapped underneath it. A product such as blue skin is critical to use at the start of the project, wrapping the substrate with a sealed and waterproof membrane. Most modern cladding works as a rainscreen, so this layer has to be ready to go when the rain starts pouring between it and your siding.
A tip to remember is that the air vapor barrier needs to be installed prior to the initial installation of your windows. It has to overlap, not just line up, or else the air vapor barrier cannot do its job.
3. Use Flashing To Your Advantage
You can use the most resistant materials out there, but if you are not using flashing to direct water away from your windows–it is only a matter of time before you will start seeing the damage.
Flashing creates water paths to flow off your cladding and window caps. For this, J-Channels are your best friend. Shaped–as the name suggests–like a J, these create tiny canals around your windows that facilitate the fast evacuation of any water it comes in contact with.
Even simpler adjustments can improve the efficacy of your window caps. For example, slanting window sills down ever so slightly can help keep water from pooling up below. The trick to flashing is knowing the enemy: water. For every place that water is expected to collect, make sure your windows are clad for a smooth exit.
4. Clad For The Future
Windows make up some of the most vulnerable parts of your building’s exterior. When it comes time to clad around them, investing the time and resources to get it done properly will end up saving you in the future.
Water leakage is costly–rot can quickly spread to other elements of your home or building. Any gaps left during the installation of window capping give an open door for pests to get inside. A poor job will also mean your building is not properly insulated–costing you extra and you bleed out air conditioned or heated air in summer and winter.
As with almost everything else in construction–the upfront cost to do something properly is always lighter than the money you will have to spend fixing the ensuing problems of a cheaply done project. If you are going to apply this wisdom to any part of your cladding project–make sure it is around the windows!
5. Make It Beautiful
We have mostly covered the technical aspects of window capping–how to ensure efficacy and long-lasting protection. But another thing to remember is that window capping, like every other piece in your cladding project, can and should be beautiful!
You can blend the window capping with the surrounding plates or panels or create a stark contrast that makes them pop. Window cappings are a great opportunity to form accents that make a striking and lasting impression on everyone who sees your building.
If you are using aluminum–which we highly recommend–for window capping, you will find a wide array of design possibilities and material combinations. Pair it with wood, stone, or other metal cladding options, such as ACM, and your windows are bound to have some pop!
We Do It Right (The First Time)
Cladding around windows is intricate work. When it comes time to renovate your cladding, the space around windows is typically what is showing the most wear and tear. If you have had water leakage or other issues around the windows of your home, you know the struggle. If you are starting a new cladding project, you have likely considered all the threats and needs that your window capping will have to meet.
If you want things done right the first time, Wiedehopf’s install team stands ready to help. For cladding around windows–and every other part of your exterior–call us at +1(905) 761 9791.