Should You Get A Full Frame Or An Insert Window Replacement?

Kenneth Wilson

Should You Get A Full Frame Or An Insert Window Replacement?

Aside from choosing the type or replacement window, another decision you need to make is whether to get an insert of a full frame window replacement. If it’s your first time hearing these terms, then you probably should learn more about them before you start your project.

Whether you’re replacing one window or all of them, you need to know which one is more suitable for your project. To help you out, find out the difference between full frame and insert window replacement so you can decide which one is to use for your project.

Full Frame Window Replacement

If your idea of replacing windows is removing the entire unit and installing a new one, then that process is called a full frame window replacement. The window unit will be completely removed, from the studs to the trims, and then a new window and its associated components will be inserted into the opening.

With a full frame window replacement, the window installer will also be able to inspect for any damages such as water or rotting wood and repair them easily since the original opening is visible. This is recommended for those who have vinyl frames since this material probably has gotten damaged through the years.

If you notice that the existing window frame is deteriorating, leaking, or not fitted properly, then it would be better to get a full frame window replacement. This is also suitable for those who have noticed that their windows are not energy-efficient or their monthly energy bills are increasing. Replacing the existing frame can make the unit more energy-efficient, which can decrease utility expenses and lessen the burden on the heating or cooling systems.

Related: 9 Signs That It’s Time To Get Your Windows Replaced

When you get a full frame window replacement, you will also have more options for the new window style and size. It is easier to accommodate the change compared to an insert window replacement. However, since there are more parts to remove and replace, the installation will be longer and more expensive. The interior, exterior, and if any, sidings, will have to be removed as well. The price will also be affected if you choose to change the size and shape.

Insert Window Replacement

For those who are not familiar, windows have frames that can be separated from the sash, hardware, and covers. With an insert window replacement, you maintain the frame and original outer part of the window while removing and replacing the other parts. This window replacement is sometimes referred to as pocket window or frame-in-frame replacement. 

This type of replacement is suitable for those who have aluminum or high-quality wood or frames since these materials are more durable. If you have vinyl frames, it is better to get a full frame window replacement window so the window installer can see the window opening and check for damages. 

You may also use this option if your window frame and sill are still in great condition. But this is still not applicable to vinyl. Even if your vinyl windows are new, it would still be better to get a full frame window replacement. This material might not be able to support the insert replacement process as well as ensure quality.

Insert window replacement is also recommended for those who don’t need to change the shape, size, or operating function of their old windows. There are even different types you can use for your insert window replacement such as single-hung, double-hung, casement, awning, and picture.

Because the existing frame remains unchanged, this type of window replacement is less expensive and quicker to complete. Aside from the frame and exterior trim, it also maintains the interior trim, so it is basically replacing a small part of the window. The parts that are usually replaced are the sash, covers, and hardware. These are installed, sometimes along with a new but smaller frame, into the existing frame opening, which is anchored, insulated, and sealed.

If you do need to install a new frame, then this would affect the glass of your windows. When you insert a replacement window with a new frame, this will take up the space of the glass and other parts. So even if it will be less expensive, consider the difference in glass visibility and how it would look if you have to install a new frame within the existing frame. 

Final Thoughts

I recommend getting a full frame window replacement since you will have more options for the style and shape, get a professional to look at the condition of your window frame and openings, and not have to deal with the loss of glass visibility.

But if you are sure about the condition of your existing window frames and don’t need to install a thinner frame, then a more affordable insert window replacement would be better. As long as you don’t decide purely on the cost, then either option won’t be a problem. Make sure to consider your existing windows’ condition and if they are not outdated.

Are You Ready To Get New Windows?

After deciding on which window replacement to get, then it’s time to look for a window installer.

Related: How To Prepare For Your Window Installation

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Related: 11 Questions You Need To Ask Your Window Replacement Contractor

Kenneth Wilson
February 2, 2021
Window Replacement

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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