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  • Writer's pictureSara Johnson

What Gets Replaced When You Get New Windows?

Two guys installling a window - Words What gets replaced when you get new windows? is across the center with the Integrity Woodworking logo

Many of our clients have wondered, what gets replaced when you get new windows? The answer to this question may seem straightforward, but it’s a little more complicated than you think. A window isn’t just a piece of glass. It’s an entryway that requires several steps to keep moisture and other elements outside your home.


So, let’s dive into this question a little more. But first, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way.


Full-Frame Replacement Window VS Insert Replacement Window

There are two types of window installation. If you’re building a new home, you will always deal with full-frame window installation. But if you’re living in an older home, you have a few different options for window replacement.


Full-Frame Window Replacement

With full-frame window replacement, your installer will remove the entire existing window, this includes window sash, the frame, interior trim, exterior trim, the insulation, windowsill, the flashing, any weatherstripping, and some stucco. After the installation is complete, you’ll have a brand-new window.


What are the advantages of Full-Frame Window Replacement?

With full-frame replacement windows, you’ll be able to address any issues that have cropped up over the years. Installers will inspect structural issues and moisture damage, giving homeowners the opportunity to repair damage before installation. This will improve the longevity of the new window.

In addition, a full window replacement will provide a better seal, which will make the window more energy efficient. Plus, with new modern materials, such as low-e glass, it provides greater efficiency than going with the alternative.

There are esthetic and functionality benefits to this type of installation, too. You’ll be able to choose the look that matches the exterior of your home, no matter the style. This can be especially advantageous if the exterior of your home is outdated and you want to spruce it up.

Another advantage to consider is that modern windows come with improved locking mechanisms, built-in screens, and noise reduction that outperforms older windows.


What are the disadvantages of Full-Frame Window Replacement?

The major disadvantage of full-frame replacement windows is the cost. Because you’re removing everything, including the frame, your labor costs will be higher. That’s not including structural issues that may need to be addressed. Plus, the cost to dispose of your old windows and materials could be higher.

Installation is more invasive and takes longer than the insert replacement windows. Homes will be temporarily exposed to the elements during the replacement process. So it’s best to schedule projects like these around inclement weather when possible. That may not be a problem if you’re not living in the home, but it’s something to consider.

Also, keep in mind that cities in Orange and Los Angeles Counties require permits for full-frame window replacements. This is because they want to inspect that the moisture barrier is properly installed. They basically want to protect homeowners from getting water or mold flowing inside their home. Even though it’s understandable why cities require this, it will be an additional cost to consider when planning your budget.


Insert Replacement Window

Insert Replacement Window is also known as retrofit or pocket replacement windows. Instead of replacing the entire window, you’re only replacing the window itself (not to be confused with glass replacement). Replacement of the window includes the window sash, the insulation, the weatherstripping, and some exterior capping or cladding.


What are the advantages of insert replacement windows?

With less labor involved, replacing your windows with an insert window is the more affordable option. You get the advantages of a quicker installation, reduced need for repairs, minimal disruption, and there are no structural changes.

Insert windows come in a variety of styles and have similar modern upgrades, including improved locking mechanisms, noise reduction, and built-in screens. These windows can provide better energy efficiency and will decrease drafts by providing better weather sealing than older windows. 

Some cities in L.A. and Orange Counties do not require permits for retrofit windows. Check with your local building department to make sure before planning out your budget. Even if your city requires permits, they are sometimes cheaper than full-replacement window permits.


What are the disadvantages of insert replacement windows?

The biggest disadvantage of insert replacement windows is not addressing any underlying problems. Since you’re using the existing frame, your energy efficiency may not improve. Also, you could reduce the longevity of your windows.

If you have issues with window leaks, this type of window replacement is likely not right for your project. Instead, we recommend going with a full-frame window replacement so that you can address the cause of your issues.

Another problem to consider is reduced glass area, which reduces natural light. Because the window fits within the existing frame, your glass area may be smaller compared to a full-frame window replacement. Plus, there are size limitations to window inserts. If measurements are not precise, you could end up with a poor fitting window, which will lead to problems further down the line.

Some cities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties require permits for this type of window replacement. Check with your local building department when planning your budget.


How much does window installation cost?

The cost of window replacements will vary on several factors, including materials, size, shape, and the complexity of your project. If permits are needed, make sure you calculate that into your project budget. If there are other underlying issues with your windows, the prices below will not reflect those additional costs. These numbers will vary depending on the installer and the manufacturer you choose.

·        Full-frame window replacements costs will range between $900 to $2,500 per window, including materials and labor.

·        Insert window replacements costs will range between $600 and $1,500 per window, including materials and labor.

Here at Integrity Woodworking, Inc. we work with a variety of manufacturers. For windows, we recommend Milgard and Andersen Windows because of their value for the price. Which is why we’ve become certified installers for both brands.


If you’re looking for a window installer in the Orange County area, click the button below to request a free virtual quote.



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