Figuring out which installation type, full frame or retrofit, is right for your window replacement, is a major factor in determining the cost of your new windows, the longevity of your replacement, not to mention your happiness and sanity. But while many window companies will suggest one or the other, the installation type that is right for you is determined by the condition of your existing windows and the surrounding wall structure. This part of the whole window replacement process is essential and every homeowner MUST know the differences and advantages of both methods.
Remember, how well your windows keep the warm air in, and keep your home comfortable depends not only on the quality of the windows you get but also on whether they are installed correctly. Even the best windows can do very little to keep your home comfortable if they aren’t installed as airtight as possible.
There are two kinds of window replacements that are widely used on the market: retrofit and full-frame installation.
Retrofit (Insert) Window Replacement
The cheaper of the two options, retrofit installation is often recommended to customers who want to preserve the existing look of their house. In a retrofit installation, new units are inserted into EXISTING frames. This installation is less labour intensive and less invasive on the structure of your house. There is, however, always a concern that even if done correctly a retrofit still won’t take into account the condition of the frame and may not fully eliminate the problems with existing units. These installations are not ideal for older homes as usually the casings, jamb extensions, and the brickmoulds should all be rot and crack free in order for a retrofit replacement to be effective.
Full-Frame (Brick-to-brick) Window Installations
Also known as the most thorough and complete window replacement, you can get. In a full-frame installation, all window hardware including casings, jamb extensions, and brickmoulds get replaced. The existing frame in your windows is torn out literally down to the brick. This really ensures there is no hidden moisture or damage left in the structure. By cleaning up the rough opening, the installers are also able to better assess the needs of your home. This installation also ultimately ensures a longer life for your new windows. Because the standard replacement material for these parts is vinyl instead of wood, it will not deteriorate or age as quickly.
The difference between full-frame and retrofit installation
Which window installation type is right for you? A full-frame replacement, on average costs 15-20% more than a retrofit installation.
But a more appropriate question would be: which installation type is right for your home?
While there are local window companies that will happily tell you that a retrofit is substantial, that may not always be the case. You should absolutely go the full-frame route if there is any moisture damage, or rotting around the frame of your window. Be careful, this may not always be visible until the windows are removed, but often just by taking off a piece of the old casing in a bottom corner, you can tell the condition of the frame envelope and the wood structure around the window.
In this case, getting retrofit windows can be a waste of time and money. Even if they are efficient and comfortable at first, eventually the moisture damage will catch up, and the framing will need to be replaced, meaning your window will probably have to go along with it.
If you are at a point when you are getting some quotes for your project, be sure to clarify exactly what is implied in each company’s installation. Some companies will replace your casing, or change it to aluminum capping, without actually changing the frame. Only installations that fully replace the brickmoulds, jamb extensions and casings can be considered full-frame replacement.
Finding out what kind of triple glazed windows installation type is right for you is crucial in ensuring you get what you want out of your window replacement.
Check out these window replacement articles:
Find Out The Cost of Replacement Windows
How To Compare Replacement Windows
Egress Windows: Absolutely Everything You Will Ever Need to Know