Replacement Windows vs New Construction Windows – What’s the Difference?

You’re probably thinking replacement windows are the way to go. In many cases this is true. In certain circumstances though, replacement windows might not be the best choice. When trying to make a decision on which type of windows are right for your home, you’ll want to first understand the difference between replacement and new construction windows.

Design Differences

Replacement windows are made to replace old windows in an existing home. They are designed to be installed in the existing window frame from the inside of the home. This avoids the removal of any exterior elements and allows for a quick, easy and less invasive installation. The existing window opening is measured and the replacement window is special ordered to fit the opening perfectly.

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New construction windows are primarily made for newly built homes or other new construction such as a home addition. They have a component called a nail-fin frame, which allows the windows to be nailed directly onto the home’s framing. This doesn’t mean they can only be used on newly constructed homes. There are certain conditions where new construction windows are the best choice for replacing existing windows.

When to use Replacement Windows

When you’re ready for new windows, replacement windows are the best option as long as your window frames are in good shape. Installing new-construction windows requires the old frames to be removed from the existing opening. This is done by cutting back the original exterior siding material to remove the old frames. This is a more difficult installation that could cause damage to the area surrounding the window and increase the installation cost.

When to Use New Construction Windows

If the window frames in your existing home are in bad shape, replacement windows will not be the best choice. The existing window frames would have to be removed and replaced. With all that carpentry required, it’s the perfect time to install new-construction windows. Replacement windows could still be used but new-construction windows are often more substantial and will not reduce your view. Because replacement windows fit inside the existing window frame you end up with less glass, therefore a smaller view.

What About Style?

Both replacement and new-construction windows are available in a wide variety of styles, materials and finishes. Whichever type of window is right for your project, you will be able to find a style that blends with your home.

Which Type of Window is More Cost Effective?

Replacement windows are typically the least expensive option when installing new windows in an existing home. Initially, the sticker price of new-construction windows may be less but that can increase significantly when you consider the cost of replacing the existing window frame as well as repairing the surrounding interior and exterior walls. However, if you’re installing windows in new construction or your existing window frames are in poor condition, new- construction windows are the best option and wisest investment.  

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How to Choose

Unless your window frames are in such bad shape that the damage is obvious or you’re doing a major home renovation where the studs are exposed, it may be difficult for the average homeowner to determine which type of new windows are the right option for your home. When considering new windows, it is best to consult with a professional.