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Do Replacement Windows Need to Be Smaller than the Original Window?

If you are considering  replacing your windows, you likely have plenty of thoughts running through your head, like which window frame and material is best, whether you need  Low-E coat windows and how much the whole process is really  going to cost. One part of a window replacement project you might have also considered is whether the replacement windows need to be smaller than the original window. This question basically boils down to whether you need a full-frame replacement window or if you can get by with an insert replacement window. In this article we will look at a full-frame replacement window versus an insert replacement window.

What is a Full-Frame Replacement Window?

A full-frame replacement window essentially means the complete removal of the existing windows down to the studs of the wall. This means taking out every element of the window, including the main frame, the trim and sometimes the siding as well. Essentially, a full-frame replacement window is like a new construction window which can drastically change the look and feel of your home.

Is a Full-Frame Replacement Window Right for You?

There are a few reasons why a full-frame replacement window might be right for you. Perhaps you want to change the size or shape of your window, or perhaps you are changing your existing windows from fiberglass to vinyl and need a complete window replacement. A full-frame replacement window is also necessary if you notice any rot in the window frame, trim, casing or sill.

Advantages of a Full-Frame Replacement Window

There are also plenty of advantages that come with a full-frame window replacement, such as the following:

  •   Achieve a perfect sash-to-frame fit, boosting the energy efficiency of your window
  •   Add insulation around the edge of your window opening
  •   Ask the replacement window contractor to check for signs of water or rot damage
  •   Get a whole new look and feel for your windows

Disadvantages of a Full-Frame Replacement Window

There are a few disadvantages that come with full-frame replacement windows, however, such as:

  •   Full-frame replacement is more expensive than an insert application
  •   The removal and installation process is often more complicated and time consuming

What is an Insert Window?

The other most common type of replacement window is an insert window. This process is essentially exactly how it sounds: it involves placing a new window unit within an existing frame. Before inserting the new window, the existing sashes and jamb liners are removed to make room for the new window unit. A new window unit will then be placed into the existing frame of the opening. This effectively means the overall glass surface area of the new window unit will be slightly smaller than the original.

Is an Insert Replacement Window Right for You?

When it comes to replacing your windows with an insert replacement window, you need to ensure there is no rot in the window frame. Also, the window frame must be square and level, and you must want your replacement window to be the same size, shape and operating style as the old window.

Advantages of an Insert Replacement Window

There are several advantages that come with an insert window replacement, such as the following:

  •   It is less expensive
  •   It is a quicker installation
  •   You can keep the old frame and interior trim intact

Disadvantages of an Insert Replacement Window

As with full-frame window replacements, there are a few disadvantages, such as:

  •   Smaller glass surface
  •   Cannot change the style or shape of the existing window space
  •   Additional insulation cannot be added
  •   Sill water protection cannot be added

So, Which Replacement Window is Right for You?

The biggest questions to ask yourself to determine what type of replacement window you want is whether you are happy with the current operating style of the windows you are replacing, and by extension if you need to replace a couple or several windows in your home. You also need to consider the price difference, and whether your existing windows have rot or are damaged and need a full-frame window replacement. Overall, it is a good idea to speak with a replacement window contractor who will be able to answer any questions you may have and determine the right type of window replacement for your needs, budget and timeline.

Replacement Windows Buyer's Guide

Topics: Replacement Windows