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Insert Windows vs. Full Frame Window Replacement

30 January 2019

You’ve taken a hard look at your windows and determine they are not quite performing to your needs.  Perhaps they are drafty, or you’re noticing discoloration and condensation.  You interview three contractors and collect window estimates, but you notice that one is way lower than the others. After doing more research and looking at the line items to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples, you see one is for insert windows and the others are for a full frame replacement window. Here’s information you need to know before signing on the dotted line.

window installation
Here’s our team working on a full frame window installation project.

What Are Window Inserts?

Just as it sounds, window inserts are simply removing the vinyl windows you have and replacing them. There’s no inspection of the window frame or interior of the windows. It’s essentially a plain window swap. Window inserts are cheaper than a full replacement because they don’t require new framing, flashing tape or insulation. Without these extra steps, the man hours of the project go down, lowering labor costs. If the frame is still in solid condition, there’s no need to replace it. However, without giving it a caring look, window contractors are unable to apply flashing tape and more insulation to the sill, making it vulnerable to water and air infiltration. Window inserts can also be the solution if you’re only looking to add extra panes to help insulate and reduce sound. An issue you may come across with an insert window installation is that it is missing key elements that tie into the health of the entire window. The frame may not be straight or could be in boorish condition. Additionally, old window frames are less energy efficient and can increase your utility bills.  Choosing an insert over a full replacement also limits your choices on which windows can be installed in terms of style and size. Because you are installing just the window into a predetermined sized hole, the windows have less visible surface glass area, particularly if they have a wider frame. This puts you at a disadvantage because the larger surface doesn’t reflect radiant energy that helps keep heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer.

Exclusive to Lindus Construction, SeasonGuard Windows Are Built for the Extreme Midwestern Temperature Swings: 

What Is Full Window Replacement?

A window replacement starts at the bare bones of your window, the frame. Review of the wood frame can reveal mold, mildew and dry rot. This will need to be repaired from poor installation or aged windows. Replacing crummy frame boards will give you peace of mind knowing the offenders aren’t still inside. Once the frame is replaced with flashing and new insulation, it’s time to add in the new home windows. Doing a full replacement gives you more freedom to choose dimensions and styles of windows to suit your needs. This also allows you to keep the visibility and energy efficiency up. Using a reputable contractor to install your new windows will highly reduce the stress level of doing it on your own. Adding in sealant inside and out will plug any openings for air and debris from coming in.  While a full replacement may cost more upfront, it can definitely save some dough later on in terms of energy efficiency and lifespan.

Watch Our Team Complete a Full Frame Window Replacement: 

Browse Our Window Replacement Projects:

SeasonGuard Slider Window 1400x600

Ginnee's Prior Lake, MN SeasonGuard Window & Door Project


Ray’s SeasonGuard Window Project in Oakdale, MN

marvin infinity

Hugh's Infinity® from Marvin Window Project in Deephaven, MN

Window Replacement Reviews: