Being in the business for so long, I’ve heard people say that, “A window is a window.” I suppose they mean that there’s not much to choosing a window beyond the basic styles and functions it performs. However, in reality, there is a lot to learn about the type of windows you put in your home or business building. I receive numerous inquiries from my customers in residential and commercial real estate asking me about the differences between one window from another, energy and heat efficiency, condensation and thermal build up, etc.
One common question I often receive from home owners is, “What is the difference between a new construction and retrofit window?” The main difference between the two is simply in the way they are installed. There are some costs and benefits associated with each, so there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to which is the best solution for your window renovation. Assess the your home needs and when in doubt, always ask a professional for their input.
New construction windows are used on the original nail fin frame of the home, additional exterior materials such as stucco or siding are applied over the frame. If you are changing your window with another new construction window, the previous frame and exterior material such as brick or siding will also need to be removed. Due to all the necessary labour and time invested, new construction windows often have a higher labour cost compared to retrofit windows.
When You Might Use New Construction Windows:
- If there is a leak coming from the frame of the window.
- If you choose to change the size of your window.
- If the studs or the frame are damaged.
- If you are changing the exterior material of your home, i.e. new stucco, siding, brick application.
Retrofit windows, which are also known as replacement windows were designed as an alternative to new construction windows for a quicker turnaround. Exterior materials do not need to be removed for the installation of retrofit windows, which also saves on labour and the cost of installation. They are made to fit to the existing window opening and because they utilize the existing frame, the size of the window will decrease.
When You Might Use Retrofit/Replacement Windows:
- If you only require a quick renovation project
- If there is a strict budget
- If the frame of your window is in good condition
Are you considering a window replacement this season? Take a look at our telltale signs for when you should replace your windows. If you’re concerned about saving energy and money with your new windows, we have a breakdown on the various types of materials and their energy rating you can review. If you have more questions, we’d be happy to help you figure out if you require new construction or retrofit windows, as well as answer any other questions you may have on window renovations, just leave us a comment below or contact us for more information.