Choose Full Frame vs. Retrofit Window

When it comes to window replacement, homeowners are often faced with the decision of whether to choose a full frame or retrofit installation. Both options have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences before making a decision. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between full frame and retrofit window installation, and the pros and cons of each.

What is Full Frame Window Installation?

Full frame window installation involves completely removing the old window and its frame, down to the rough opening of the house. This means that the new window is installed into a completely new frame, which is attached directly to the house’s studs. This type of installation is often necessary when there is rot or damage to the existing frame, or when a homeowner wants to change the size or shape of the window.

Pros of Full Frame Window Installation:

1) Ensures Proper Sealing: With a full frame installation, the window is completely sealed, providing better insulation and energy efficiency.
2) Increases Window Size: Since the old frame is removed, a full frame installation allows for larger windows to be installed.
3) Aesthetically Pleasing: A full frame installation gives a fresh, clean look to the window and its surroundings.

Cons of Full Frame Window Installation:

1) More Expensive: Full frame installation is often more expensive than retrofit installation, as it requires more materials and labor.
2) Longer Installation Time: A full frame installation is a more involved process, taking more time and effort than a retrofit installation.
3) Requires More Exterior Work: Because the entire frame is being replaced, full frame installation requires more exterior work, such as siding repairs or replacement.

What is Retrofit Window Installation?

Retrofit window installation, also known as “insert window installation,” involves leaving the existing frame in place and installing the new window inside it. The new window is custom-made to fit the existing frame, and is secured with screws and adhesive.

Pros of Retrofit Window Installation:

1) Less Expensive: Retrofit installation is often less expensive than full frame installation, as it requires fewer materials and less labor.
2) Quicker Installation Time: Since the existing frame is being used, a retrofit installation takes less time and effort than a full frame installation.
3) Less Exterior Work: Retrofit installation requires less exterior work, as the existing frame is left in place.

Cons of Retrofit Window Installation:

1) Reduced Window Size: Since the new window is installed inside the existing frame, the size of the window is limited to the size of the frame.
2) May not Correct Issues with the Existing Frame: If there is rot or damage to the existing frame, retrofit installation may not address those issues.
3) May not be as Energy Efficient: Retrofit installation may not provide the same level of insulation and energy efficiency as a full frame installation.

Which is Better: Full Frame or Retrofit Window Installation?

The decision of whether to choose full frame or retrofit window installation ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If your existing frame is in good condition and you don’t need to change the size or shape of your window, retrofit installation may be a good option. However, if your existing frame is damaged or you want to increase the size of your window, full frame installation may be the better choice.
It’s important to consider the cost, installation time, and required exterior work when making a decision. A professional window installer can help you determine which option is best for your home and provide a detailed estimate.
In conclusion, both full frame and retrofit window installation have their own advantages and disadvantages. By weighing the pros and cons of each and considering your specific needs, you can make an informed decision on which option is best for your home.


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