Replacement Windows : 10 things to know before you buy
It’s a great investment and addition to your home to replace your windows, as it adds beauty, style and value. A San Diego study shows you can recoup up to 98% of the cost by installing vinyl replacement windows. We’re here to tell you 10 things before you invest in new windows to make sure you know what to expect.
1. Replacement vs. Retro-fit
While replacement window means replacing an existing window, you must use either “new construction” or retro-fit. Since these terms are similar amongst window professionals, we breakdown the differences to determine which is right for you.
New Construction – Best when you are planning to re-stucco or replace siding on a replacement window in the future. It involves cutting back the siding four to eight inches or cutting back the stucco, removing flashing paper and then removing the window that needs to be replaced. A three-step process will then be used by a professional, which is installing the new window, applying new flashing paper and then replacing the stucco. The good news is, your windows will be the same size as the old windows. Bad news is, if you do not plan to re-stucco the house, it will be noticeable the stucco was patched. Cracks may occur due to the old and new stucco not expanding and contracting at the same time. This method also costs more than the “retro-fit” method.
Retro-Fit – If you are on a budget and do not plan to re-stucco the house in the future, this maybe the best choice. Because the perimeter frame of the window will not be removed, retro-fit windows will not require any stucco damage. The easy thing about retro-fit is that it is designed to fit inside the old window. Depending on if the windows are metal or wood, a different installation method maybe used and a different retro-fit window by a contractor. This new window must also be smaller than the old window because the new window must fit inside the frame of the old window. Usually this is not noticeable unless the new window is in a small space, like a bathroom.
2. Current window types: Metal or Wood?
The type of windows you have now will have an impact on the new windows if retro-fit is being used.
Metal – These types of windows are usually replaced with a retro-fit installation, equipped with an exterior flange that will conceal the previous window frame from the outside. A large opening will be created by the contractor by removing the glass and any bars that divide the window. A flange that extends about two inches all around the frame will come with the new window. The flange will conceal the outside of the frame of the old window and the new window will fit inside the opening of the old window. A trim will be used to conceal the old window from the outside. Different interior trim options are available depending on the contractor.
Wood – Retro-fit windows are used to replace existing windows and typically has a sill that accommodates the slope of the old wood window sill. The interior and exterior stops of the old windows will be removed, as well as the sash, and the frame around the perimeter will be in place. The old perimeter frame will then be ready for installment of the new window. The old window sill may have an aluminum wrap depending on which contractors offer it, as it is difficult to do well as wrap may have gaps and unaligned edges. A good paint job will keep the charm of the old wood windows and finish off the old window sill nicely.