Full Frame Vs Insert Replacement Windows

So, you’ve looked at your home’s windows and decided it’s time for a change. You collect quotes from several window companies and, after comparing them side-by-side, you realize one is significantly lower than the others. What gives? In most cases, the difference stems from a different installation type — insert replacement windows versus full frame windows.

Full frame windows, also known as new construction installation windows, are installed directly to the house’s framing and are often recommended for older homes with rot or other structural issues that impact the exterior wood components of a window opening. This installation method requires that the entire old window sash, frame and trim are removed down to the rough opening, and then replaced with a new window, allowing installers to inspect and repair the framing and establish an air/water barrier.

While they may seem like an additional expense at first, full frame windows provide a long-term benefit that should offset the extra cost. In addition to helping with energy efficiency and reducing water damage, full-frame windows allow installers to add a layer of insulation around the window — something that’s impossible with a pocket replacement.

In addition, because they are nailed to the studs, full-frame windows offer increased resale value over traditional insert replacement windows and can even help reduce a home’s energy costs. And, as mentioned above, they can also offer a more spacious view of the outdoors.

It’s important to note, however, that a full frame installation will typically take twice as long as a pocket replacement due to the extra materials and work required. This can sometimes make it a less convenient option for homeowners, especially if they are looking to get their windows replaced as quickly as possible.

Another potential drawback of a full-frame installation is that it can often cost more than a pocket replacement, although both Callen and Schweihs point out that window manufacturers have started to address this by offering specialized accessories for full-frame installations such as jamb extensions and exterior brickmould, resulting in an overall reduction in the install time and therefore lowering the cost.

Ultimately, both installers and homeowners have their own preferences regarding installation methods. For some, a pocket replacement is the best fit because it offers a quick solution that doesn’t disturb existing trim or other elements of the home. But, for those who want a more aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient window, full-frame installation is definitely the way to go. In fact, it’s important to talk with a contractor about the pros and cons of both options before making your final decision. That way, you’ll be fully informed about your installation choices and can decide which is right for your home. And, you’ll be able to choose a style that complements your home’s aesthetic while performing to your standards and expectations. To find out more about your options for replacing your windows, schedule a free in-home consultation. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and walk you through the process.