Your home can easily be upgraded and made much more energy-efficient if you choose to. Windows, in general, offer the quickest results, and one of the fastest return on investments when it comes to remodeling your home. If you have old, drafty windows with cracked glass, air infiltration around the edges, dated sashes, and condensation all the time, new retrofit windows can provide you with all the insulation you’ll ever need.
Retrofit Windows vs Full Frame
Retrofit windows versus full-frame installations are the two options you will be faced with once deciding to remodel your windows. Retrofit windows are replacement windows installed into a pre-existing windows frame. Full frame window installations include the reconstruction of the window opening. A retrofit is less invasive, so you save money on parts and labor. Other cost differences associated with a retrofit window installation are related to the removal and repair of existing window trim and siding.
How To Choose Retrofit Windows
If you’re satisfied with the size and placement of your current windows, retrofitting replacement windows is a viable option for your home. Retrofit windows are mostly recommended to customers who want to preserve the existing look of their home, while full-frame installations are often the more thorough and complete replacement option. Full frame installations are also the only option if you want larger windows than what you currently have, and they also tend to be more energy efficient in most cases. However, with a retrofit window installation, there is very little disruption done to the home and, if it is a viable window replacement solution for you, it can be done at a fraction of the cost – so it’s a very attractive option for many.
Pros and Cons
If you’re not sure whether retrofit windows will be the best option, consider the pros and cons of both.
Retrofit Windows Pros
- cheaper to install
- quick installation process
- no alterations required
- no damage to siding/ trim
Retrofit Windows Cons
- leakage can be a major problem
- may not be an option at all
- can look cheap and unprofessional
- size of the frame limits the window size
New Construction Pros
- able to create a custom look
- professional/ polished look
- no loss of window size and glass area
New Construction Cons
- can be expensive
- takes longer to install
- requires professional installation
Keep in mind that retrofit windows are definitely not an option if there is any moisture damage. A rotting frame around your windows will only worsen over time, even if it feels more comfortable in the beginning.
How Retrofit Windows Are Installed
First, the old windows are removed and the opening is prepared. A large amount of caulking is necessary around the frame on the outside. If necessary, any deterioration or rot must be addressed before proceeding with the installation at this point. Ensure that any gaps are insulated to ensure no leakage. On the inside of the house, use a molding fastened to the inside of the existing window frame.
When you choose retrofit window replacement, new windows are installed within the existing window frames that are still structurally sound. The existing sash, hardware, and covers are removed while the new window is inserted into the old frame. This generally makes for quicker installations as well as being more affordable.