Differences Between Insert and Full Window Replacement

What’s the difference between an insert replacement window and a full-frame replacement window?

There are actually two methods to replacing windows when you start window shopping. This may not be something you discover in a typical window buying conversation and not all replacement window companies offer the choice of insert or full-frame. For more information about the entire replacement process, download our free Window Buying Guide.

Insert Replacement Windows

Across the replacement market, 80% of window replacement consists of removing an old window frame with its sashes and “inserting” a new window in its place. Insert windows are the most common because they are use-friendly and leave the interior and exterior trim undisturbed. You get beautiful, energy-efficient, replacement windows in the color and style you want, plus the job is finished and virtually maintenance free from the moment the installers leave your home.

Installation Information on Insert Replacement Windows

Window inserts, are a fully operational window installed within the existing window trim and sill. With a replacement window insert, the old interior and exterior trim is undisturbed and remains intact. The exterior wood components are completely custom wrapped in an aluminum material that is color matched to your home’s trim and the window color. The result is a maintenance-free window that utilizes the existing wood trim.

The insert method allows some of the original window components to remain in place. The object of both methods is to maintain a home’s architectural integrity and improve the energy efficiency of the window openings in the home.

Full-Frame Replacement Windows

A full-frame window includes the exterior trim and windowsills, and requires the interior window trim to be replaced as well. Following the installation, homeowners often have interior trim to paint or stain to bring the window installation to completion. At Thebco, more than 1/2 of our installations are complete window replacement.

Installation Information on Full-Frame Replacement Windows

During the installation of a full-frame replacement window, the entire window is removed, leaving only the studs exposed like in a new home construction. Everything is removed including the sills and trim. A full-frame installation is recommended when there is significant rot or deterioration to the exterior wood components of a window opening. In some cases, a full-frame installation is the best choice due to the glass loss with an insert replacement window.

Is Full-Frame Replacement More Expensive?

Because of the amount of additional materials and work that are required in a full-frame window installation, it will cost more. The difference will run approximately 20-25% more. Our custom Madera trim system from Restorations Windows is the perfect solution for replacing old trim and is part of the reason for the increased investment.

For more information about window systems or to have us check out your current windows and recommend a solution for replacement, call us today at 608-249-2905 or request an appointment on our website.


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