Window Prices in Canada: Everything You Didn’t Know But Should

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If you are thinking about undergoing a window replacement project, at some point you’ll have to get window prices from your local window companies.

The big question: How much does it cost to replace a window in Canada?

The final price you pay for new windows will depend on three factors: the type of installation required to replace the window, the window style you choose, and the size of your new windows. We’ll go over some of the main concepts and ideas you should have in mind when budgeting for a potential window replacement project and getting some assessments.  Keep in mind there are often options to do things for cheaper, but in reality the condition of your existing windows and the health of the frame and wall that surround them should dictate whether to replace your windows, what installation is best suitable to make them efficient, and how long your new windows will last before you need to replace them again.

Check out this video for some quick tips on how to price your new windows:

Should you repair or replace your old windows?

On paper a window repair is fractionally cheaper than the cost of a replacement. For this reason homeowners are usually more inclined to repair their windows first. But this can sometimes be compared to trying to stop a leaky hose with a band-aid. Keep in mind, no matter the problem with your windows, a good way to determine whether they should be repaired is to try and figure out what condition the frame is in.

For example, one day you see a crack in the glass in one of your windows. This may be a result of a pebble, or some hail, or even pressure loss in the sealed unit. Naturally the inclination is to just get a new glass pane. But what if the window is fairly old and you notice the frames are coming apart, or maybe have some water damage or even signs of rotting or mold. Even though the more immediate problem is the glass crack, in this case you should consider a replacement first and foremost. Yes, repairing the window will be cheaper in the short term, but if there are already clear signs of deterioration in the frame of that window, you are more likely going to have to replace it within a few years anyways and that glass repair is just going to be wasted money.

Similarly, if you are thinking of replacing your windows in stages, see which window frames are in the worst condition and consider getting those done first. If the frames are still in good condition it is possible to replace just the glass and improve the window’s efficiency while insuring it keeps wind and moisture out of the structure.

Familiarize yourself with different window parts in this short video:

Read More: Comprehensive Replacement Window Buying Guide

How installation affects the final cost of a window replacement

As we mentioned, installation is an important factor in the final price of your replacement windows. There are two main ways existing windows get replaced today: a retrofit, or a full-frame replacement. 

In a retrofit installation the old window sashes are taken out, but the original window frame remains intact. This type of installation is recommended only for windows where there is no frame damage due to moisture. This type of window replacement is perfect for newer windows or ones with quality wooden frames.

In a full-frame (tearout) replacement, the window frame gets removed down to the studs surrounding the opening. The installers then address any moisture problems in the studs, and replace any rotten or damaged wood surrounding the opening. The new window is installed with new frames, jambs, brickmoulds and vinyl trim.

Because a full-frame window replacement is more thorough, and requires more labour and material, full-frame installations cost 15-20% more than retrofit window replacements.

Learn more about the difference between full-frame and retrofit window installation.

Interior window finish cost

Another important thing to consider is what kind of interior finish you envision on your new windows. With retrofit installations the existing trim is usually left untouched. This is great for maintaining the existing consistent look of all the windows in your house. With full-frame replacement the old trim is removed. Most vinyl windows come standard with white vinyl trim. This can create a great modern look if you are replacing all the windows in your house at once. If you are however more into the natural wooden look, or simply want to match new windows to the existing ones, it is possible to get custom trim as part of your window installation. Custom trim is usually manufactured from MDF or higher quality oak or maple wood. Wood trim can cost 40-60% more than vinyl casings. 

Exterior window finish cost

There are two common solutions for exterior finishes on windows. Exterior finishes usually imply the area where the window meets the wall. Traditionally, windows have been finished with a wooden brickmould that is then covered by aluminum capping. Advancements in vinyl window technology mean that modern windows come with a vinyl brickmould that is measured to sit snuggly against the wall and created continuous protection from water penetration. Aluminum capping is not as good as vinyl brickmoulds because it can still allow for water penetration and absorption into the frame of the window. Capping is also a lot more labour intensive, time consuming, and generally more difficult to make look as neat as a continuous brickmould.

For this reason window installation with aluminum capping usually costs 5-10% less than installation with vinyl brickmould.

Window Prices by Style

There are two main types of window styles: crank and slider. Crank windows such as casement and awnings are more efficient, and better performing than sliding and hung windows. That’s because cranks utilize compression seal technology: the seal evenly fills the space between sash and frame making the unit airtight and efficient when the window is closed. Instead of compression seals, slider windows rely on weatherstripping to fill the gap between sash and frame. Weatherstripping is not as efficient as compression seals, and a slider window overall is less efficient than a crank one. Because of the additional efficiency and operational features, crank windows can cost 15-20% more than slider windows.

The picture below compares prices between a single slider and single casement window. Note the size difference: casement windows can’t always be manufactured in large sizes to accommodate the same wide openings that slider windows can be installed in.

Window Prices by Size

The type of window you buy may be determined by the size of the rough opening in the room. Like we mentioned above, casement and awning windows can’t always be manufactured to meet really wide openings. In these situations, it is possible to use casement windows in a combination with one or two picture windows. The ranges below represent costs for minimum and maximum size ranges of windows for different rooms in the house.

Do coloured windows cost more?

Generally, PVC windows come in a clean white. Virgin (not-recycled) PVC stays white for the duration of the window’s life and doesn’t fade or yellow with time. This is also a big advantage of vinyl windows to wood, as even the best wood windows need to be scraped and repainted over time. The price ranges we provided above are an estimate for white vinyl only. But homeowners often want more choices, whether to match the look of the house or other existing windows. It is possible to customize the window colour to one that a company offers, or match the colour to one of your choice. Either way, making coloured vinyl requires the colour to be mixed into the PVC during the manufacturing process. This is what insures your coloured vinyl windows won’t peel or crack like painted wood windows. Because of this, coloured vinyl windows can cost 8-10% more than white vinyl.

Get more details about buying coloured vinyl windows here.

What hidden costs are there for window installation?

The final written contract for your window replacement should include the final price that will cover the cost of the window itself, its installation, and after-installation warranty.

We generally say that there shouldn’t be any additional costs after your sign your window contract, as a good project consultant should be able to properly assess the issues in your existing windows during the quote appointment and generate the quote correctly.

Sometimes however, it is difficult to assess the full extent of moisture damage in the wall structure until the window is removed from the opening, which happens on the day of the installation. Bigger windows are especially more susceptible to water penetration and damage. In older bay and bow windows especially it is not uncommon to see obvious signs of rotting on the inside of the wall, while the outside facing into the room looks new and undamaged.

Bay Window Rot Close
It is often difficult to tell if the there is moisture damage in the frame until the window is out. These walls look fine, but it’s a mess on the inside.

While these instances are rare, they do happen sometimes, and you may be asked for additional fees to cover replacing the rotten wood. What’s more important here is that you know exactly what the additional costs are going towards. If you can, try to be present during your window installation so that you can make these decisions on the spot. Either way, the installers should not proceed with work until this kind of issue is resolved. Installing a new window into a rotten wall does not address any issues in the long term, and will likely result in another window replacement within 3-10 years. Paying a little extra than anticipated is worth more and costs less than having to buy new windows and pay for their installation less than ten years down the road. Remember, new windows, when installed correctly, should last at least 20-25 years.

How basement window prices differ from the rest of the house

Pricing your basement window replacement is generally trickier than getting a quote on windows in the rest of the house. This is because there are often concerns about basement windows meeting egress (fire code) size. The law in Canada mandates that any room that can be used as a bedroom or a living space has to have at least one window that can be used as an exit in the event of the emergency. Because most of the older homes in Western Canada have been built before these regulations came into effect, homeowners are often left with the dilemma and additional costs of expanding their windows and making them fire code approved. Part of the issue here lies in not just expanding the window, but also additional landscaping that may be required in order to truly make the windows egress approved. This may mean that you are also on the hook for costs associated with trenching, building a window well, potentially moving sprinkler lines and changing the landscaping set up around your home.

All these variables go into the final price of basement windows, but they don’t always come from the same source. Depending where you are located your local window company may not cut concrete or provide landscaping services associated with digging and building window wells. This may mean that you have to find other companies to do that work. Ideally, your window company should communicate with other labourers and install the windows the same day the concrete is cut and the wells are dug and built. That way your home won’t lose heat or be left exposed to the elements.

Basement window cut-out prices

Additional costs may include:

  • Concrete cut-out
  • Trenching
  • Building a window well

Many window companies are weary of undertaking basement window projects because they are labour intensive and require a lot of attention and coordination. Even if they do meet egress size requirements, basement windows still tend to be some of the smallest in the house, and end up costing quite a lot to manufacture and install. That’s often why prices on basement windows are inflated to ensure some profit can still be made. Consider replacing your basement windows together with a bigger replacement elsewhere in the house so you can get a better price on the actual windows and their installation.

Learn everything you need to know about egress basement windows