Replacement Windows vs. New Construction Windows

What’s best for your home: replacement windows or new construction windows?

If you’re interested in replacing your windows, trying to make an informed decision can be overwhelming. As you search for the option that’s best for you and your home, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of choices.

Replacement windows vs. new construction windows

The first step is to understand window jargon.

Replacement windows also can be called insert replacement windows or retrofit windows.

● New construction windows also are called full-frame replacement windows.

Replacement windows are defined as windows installed into a pre-existing window opening, while new construction windows are designed for homes that have yet to be constructed or used in the instances where an existing window has to be removed (down to the studs of the walls) before it can be replaced.

Physical differences between replacement and new windows

Replacement windows are designed so that the installer doesn’t have to remove any exterior materials of a home. The windows are measured to fit the existing window opening perfectly and special ordered.

This enables the windows to be installed from the inside of the home without damaging the wall, window trim or siding, which saves time and money because the installation is quicker and less invasive, as the only part of the home that will be touched is the window itself.

New construction windows are designed to be installed into a brand-new home, an addition to a home, or when the studs are exposed. The new construction window has a component called a nail fin frame, which means the windows will be nailed directly onto the frame.

The only time you might consider a new construction window to replace an existing window would be if the studs or frame are damaged (by mold, rot or other factors), or if you are completely replacing a wall or replacing your home’s siding.

What’s cheaper: replacement windows or new windows?

In general, replacement windows are a more wallet-friendly option. Even though new construction windows might appear cheaper in the store, you have to factor in the cost of reconstructing the window opening and replacing parts of the interior and exterior wall. That can increase the cost 50 to 100 percent.

However, if you are building a new home, adding onto your existing home or looking to completely redo a wall or your siding, new construction windows might be the best option. You can pick out the window you want in your home and the builder will create the wall based on the window selection.