New or Replacement Windows?

New Construction Windows

New construction means all the interior trim getting ripped out as well as anything on the exterior.

New Construction Windows are most commonly used in a brand new home or new addition. Since the home is under construction and the studs are visible, the windows are installed directly into the frame, nailing the window into the framing on the home. In many cases an installer can work directly with the contractor or architect on the project to guarantee perfect fit, shape, and style windows to match your home and fit exact specifications.

What about remodel projects?

New construction windows can be installed in a home remodeling project. This process requires the removal of exterior materials around the window in order to expose the studs of the home on which the window is installed.

As you can see, new construction windows are possible for remodeling projects however, it is a more involved (and generally more expensive) process. Most contractors would agree that new construction windows would be the best option if the studs and/or frame of the window have been damaged, or if the exterior of the home is being replaced (new siding, stucco, etc.).

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Replacement Windows

Replacement windows fit inside current window frames, leaving the original exterior & interior window frame & trim in place.

On the other hand, replacement windows are the most common option for home improvement. They are much quicker to install and are more flexible for budgets or time constraints, saving time as well as labor costs. Installing replacement windows do not require a contractor to remove the exterior materials of the home but the windows are measured to fit within the existing frame. Replacement windows are in fact only replacing the window unit itself.

There are two main types of replacement windows: the Flush Fin (also referred to as the Z-bar) and Block Frame.

Flush Fin are common for aluminum window replacement and when the exterior of the home is stucco or other types of masonry. These have larger exterior flange designed to conceal the existing window’s frame.

Block Frame are used to where the home exterior is either wood, siding, or brick. The existing frame is left in place and just the window is replaced, requiring the frame to be in good condition.

Consider the following when trying to decide between New Construction and Replacement Windows:

  • Your budget
  • Time restraints
  • Matching colors / aesthetics
  • If joints welded or mechanically fastened

Tips from the Window Forum:

“New construction vs. Replacement has zero impact on insulation. A new construction window is installed with a nailing flange and ideally installed with a self-sealing flashing tape. A good install shouldn’t need to be replaced within 20 years. What can fail on a window (vinyl) is the seal – and sashes are easily replaceable.”

“I am a huge fan of full frame replacement when it is the right choice for my clients.
First I would ID windows to consider as high performance not as high end. That said look at the performance of each then the price. If you are going to do this, you should pick a window with a lifetime warranty (and what appears to be a strong company.

Full frame will provide the following benefits:

  • New interior trim (you can change the style and or width)
  • Gain or maintain current visible glass dimension
  • Units will be foamed between the RO and new units”

“If the exterior and interior trim aren’t rotted/ water damaged, a properly installed replacement application would easily suffice. Many homes have original windows where replacement is the most economical/ efficient solution. I always try to do what’s in the best interest of my customer, if a full tear out isn’t warranted, I would much rather they save some money and do a replacement.”

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