If there is only one thing you need to know when undertaking a window replacement – it is what kind of installation is right for your home. Understanding exactly what each kind of replacement entails can have a significant impact on the final price of new windows, not to mention your happiness and sanity.

There are two kinds of window replacements that are used by Canadian window installers: retrofit and full-frame installation.

Retrofit (Insert) Window Installation

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.

In a retrofit installation, new windows are inserted into your existing frames.
Retrofit Installation: although this is a new window, you can still see the old parts of the frame in this kind of installation
Retrofit Installation: although this is a new window, you can still see the old parts of the frame in this kind of installation.

Full-Frame (Brick-To-Brick) Window Installations

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.

In a full-frame installation the old window gets removed down to the studs

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 a 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.

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. Often, homeowners in Winnipeg will lean toward getting a retrofit simply because it is cheaper.

But a more appropriate quesiton 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.

Check out these window posts:
Window Prices in Winnipeg: Plan For Your Replacement
Best Window Companies in Winnipeg: 2015
Casement Windows In Winnipeg

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