Since there is technically no such thing as a completely waterproof window, waterproofing windows is all about decreasing the chances that water enters your home, while not completely eliminating the possibility. A good waterproofing job can make the chances of water entering your home nearly impossible, but many people fail in their attempt to properly waterproof a window.
The most common damage caused by a window that is not properly waterproofed is not a leak, but rather excessive moisture. A large amount of moisture in your home can cause damage to wood, potentially costing you a lot of money if it is not taken care of promptly. Thus, waterproofing windows is an investment, as you will not need to replace items due to moisture damage. A great waterproofing job can keep your belongings and home safe for years to come. The key to a solid window waterproofing is taking your time and ensuring the area in and around the window is totally secure. The extra time you put in is undoubtedly worth the effort. For help along the way, read below for instructions on how to waterproof your windows.
Whether your window is in your bathroom, which is the most common area people experience damage from moisture, or somewhere else, you should tile the area around the window as if it is part of the wall. By doing this, you can make sure there are no potential gaps through which moisture might sneak in. If you have not yet selected your windows, opt for a vinyl-clad variety that is housed in a wooden jamb. These items are much more effective at waterproofing. The vinyl on the window is a natural waterproofer, saving you a lot of work in the long run. The wooden jamb allows you to provide the window with a flat base on which to work, reducing the chances of future damage.
Run cement board on the same plane as the window jamb, caulking the area between this board and the jamb with a high-quality silicone caulk. Silicone is a good caulk to use when waterproofing, and this caulking will provide an initial base to protect against water damage in this joint. Since the joints of the window are the most likely places you will experience damage, though, you want to take extra precautions.
The caulking alone might be enough to keep out moisture, but it should not be used as a standalone defense. Thus, once the caulking is installed, wrap the area around the window joint with a waterproof membrane, using a latex thinset to bond the membrane to the wood. This membrane can be found at various hardwood or home improvement stores and will be the true barrier that waterproofs your windows.
If you choose, you can also install a pitched windowsill that will help water drain back outside. In other words, you can use gravity to your advantage on the outside of your home, making sure water does not build up on the window sill and eventually leak into your home. To prevent this sort of damage, check your windows each year to make sure there are no cracks or areas where air or water might leak into your home.