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What is a Buck Frame for Windows?

Buck Frame for Windows

When homeowners research how to replace their windows, they are surprised to learn the buck frame is an important consideration. The majority of windows installed use a buck frame – but what is a buck frame and why is it important? Simply put, the buck frame, also known as a buck or wood buck, provides the framework within the rough opening in the wall to which the window is securely attached.

A buck frame’s main purpose is to properly affix the window securely to your home, while providing additional insulation and a barrier to keep out moisture. During a typical replacement window installation, the original buck frame remains in the opening. We take out the sashes and track, but leave not only the buck frame, but also the brick molding. Then, your custom window is placed within the buck frame. Next the window is caulked on the inside and outside, then the brick mold is wrapped on the outside to seal and maintain its integrity.

The Buck Frame Insert vs Full Frame Installation

During an insert installation, installers must take great care to repair any damaged wood they find. These repairs can take additional time and often with companies that charge per window, installers may simply skip this step. This compromises the integrity of the install and sets the homeowner up for major issues down the road like wood rot, termites, gaps and leaks. Installers who work by the hour, like our trained installation crews, have a greater incentive to get the job done right and take the extra steps needed to insure a quality install. That may include replacing part of the buck that has been damaged by water. When we find the damage, we replace it at no additional cost with no questions asked. It’s just the right thing to do.

During a full frame installation, the buck frame and everything else is removed down to the wall frame of the home. A new buck frame is part of the complete custom window that is placed in the opening. Only pressure treated lumber and exterior grade plywood should be used to build new bucks.

Types of Buck Frame Materials

Buck frames come in a variety of materials, but the majority of buck frames are made from wood. Wood buck frames have been used in window installations for more than 100 years and wood is a preferred material for a variety of reasons: it is readily available, easy to work with and provides great insulation.

A buck frame can also be created out of other materials. There are several manufacturers who create bucks by using vinyl and steel, particularly for concrete buildings. There are pros and cons for the use of both materials, but steel bucks are considerably heavier and more expensive.

Our windows are secured with three inch wood screws, which makes it necessary to use a wooden buck frame. While the majority of clients have buck frames available for an insert installation, sometimes we have clients that do not have buck frames installed. One particular client with this problem left quite an impression on our company.

When No Buck Frame Exists

Our client’s home was completely made of concrete and while the home was quiet, well insulated (with the exception of their current windows) and built to withstand a variety of assaults from Mother Nature, the steel windows had been mortared into a concrete wall!

To install our windows, we had to grind the steel frames out of the concrete and cut 1×6 boards to create a buck. We then used a type of nail gun with a bullet punch that fires a slug into the wood and secured it to the cement so we could have a wood buck frame to secure the windows. While there are cases in which we must build a buck frame, it really is an exception to our normal procedure.

While not often talked about, the quality of that wooden square or rectangle — the buck frame — is an integral part of window installation and integrity. Proper installation and maintenance will ensure satisfaction for the life of your windows.

Gerry Rogers About Gerry Rogers

Gerry Rogers is the President of Mr. Rogers Windows

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