Basics of Window Replacement for Homeowners

Most homeowners buy replacement windows only once in a lifetime, so it can be overwhelming when they realize the cost and scope of a window replacement project. That feeling is often compounded by the realization that they really don’t know where to start in planning a project like this.

Some homeowners will throw themselves on the mercy of a retailer to answer all their questions. But in a world where it seems everyone wants to sell you something fast, it’s important to take the time to get all the facts you need first, before you start shopping.

First of all, determine if you really need to replace your windows. Some issues can be resolved with a simple repair, but others can’t be fixed. Take an inventory of your window issues and get advice from a trusted professional to decide if repair or replacement is the answer.

If it turns out that window replacement is in your future, consider the following before you leave home:

Budget. When you establish your budget, consider how long you intend to stay in your home. Do you need windows to last five years, 15 years or a lifetime? Do you have specific, non-negotiable requirements? Knowing this will help you determine if your price range will be in the low, medium or high range.

Timeline. Decide if you want to replace your windows all at once or spread it out, replacing them room by room. Many people choose to spread out the process to have fewer, better quality windows installed over several years rather than a house full of lower quality windows that won’t last.

Replacement or new construction windows? Replacement windows refer to a new window, set into an existing frame. This type of installation has no effect on the window’s interior trim as it only replaces the actual window itself. The installation of new construction windows consists of removing the existing window, trim and frame down to the studs, and replacing it with an entirely new window unit including new trim, inside and outside.

Style of windows. Decide if you want casement, awning, bay, bow, picture, double-hung, slider or fixed windows. It will likely be a combination of styles depending on how many you are replacing. Pricing will vary based on style.

Material for trim and frame. Replacement windows come in vinyl, aluminum, wood, clad wood or fiberglass. Each looks and performs differently, and cost differences among materials vary widely.

Window frame insulation. The hollow cavities of many window frames can be filled with insulation, which substantially reduces energy loss and adds durability to the frame itself. Less expensive windows are sold with no insulation; mid-range and higher cost windows are filled with insulation.

Window glass options. Decide if you want double- or triple-pane glass. Also, consider the type of gas between the panes and the spacers used between the panes as those that will affect the insulation value of your windows. Finally, a Low-E glass coating reflects UV rays and helps control temperature fluctuations as well as protecting your interior furnishings from fading. These protective coatings are available at various levels of quality and price.

Of course, these aren’t the only factors that affect window replacement projects. Homeowners will still need to pick colors, styles and most importantly, the right installation team. But properly prepared with the basics of window replacement projects, homeowners can approach window replacement with confidence they will make the right decision for their home and budget.


For more information on siding, entry doors or replacement windows including our flagship Restorations line call us at 608-249-2905 or check us out online at Or feel free to stop by our showroom at 4476 Robertson Rd, Madison, WI 53714 to check out some window design options in person! Feel free to download our Window Shopping Guide to help you in making a decision on the right window product for your home.

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