If you are considering replacing the windows in your home, it can be overwhelming. There are many choices in design and efficiency, and to further complicate things, a difference in the way they are installed. With all the unfamiliar jargon and terminology, it makes it even more difficult to select the best option for your home.

Replacement windows can also be called insert replacement windows or retrofit windows, while new construction windows are also called full frame replacement windows. Replacement windows are defined as windows installed into a pre-existing window opening and new construction windows are designed for homes that are either under construction, being renovated or having the exterior façade replaced or upgraded.

Replacement windows have been developed so that the installer does not have to remove any exterior materials of a home. The windows are measured to fit the existing window opening perfectly and special ordered. This enables the windows to be installed from the inside of the home without damaging the wall, window trim, siding or masonry work. This saves time and money because the installation is quicker and less invasive, as the only part of the home that will be touched is the window itself. New construction windows are designed to be installed into a brand new home or when significant renovations are being done to the home, as it requires the exterior walls to be taken down to the sheathing.

There are actually three types of window installation methods; new construction, full frame replacement and pocket replacement.

The major difference between a new construction window and a replacement window is that a new construction window is designed to be secured from the outside of your home, through a flange, while a replacement window is secured into the existing opening with screws through the side frames, and typically from inside your home.

New construction windows have an exterior flange and are designed to be secured into the house’s exterior sheathing before the siding, brick, stone or stucco are installed. After the windows are fastened and secured, the siding materials and trim are finished right up to the window to provide a seamless appearance.

You’ll quickly find that the new construction installation is the most expensive option, but does offer the best efficiency, as gaps between support beams and jambs, and water and air leaks around the window are remedied when the complete window is replaced.

If the exterior of your home is brick, stucco or stone, you may need a masonry contractor to carefully clear the area of any masonry products prior to the new construction window installation. After the windows are installed the contractor will have to return to reinstall the masonry materials. This can add significant cost to a window installation.

If you plan on refinishing the exterior of your home, whether with new siding or a brick, stone or stucco product, first consult with a professional window installation company to assess whether your windows should be changed prior to the façade work.

The most popular replacement option is the full frame installation. When removing the existing window, the old moldings and jambs are also removed and the contractor will rebuild a new jamb, frame and exterior stop. After the frames are built and the windows are installed, shimmed, squared and leveled, spray foam insulation should be applied, then the new interior jambs go in, and a new molding package is built around the window inside your home.

Pocket replacement windows are typically seen in homes that are 80 years or older. In the older areas of Staten Island, like on the North Shore, Mariners Harbor, Port Richmond, West Brighton, St. George, Stapleton and even some areas of the South Shore in Tottenville, houses built before or around the World War II era have older wood windows. In this application, typically windows would be replaced using the pocket installation method as they have old wood sashes with weights inside the frames. When replacing the windows, typically these wood frames and the existing moldings are left in place.

When a pocket replacement window is installed, the interior stops and parting strips are removed, leaving the exterior stops in place. Then silicon is applied to the exterior stop before setting the window in the pocket. After the window is set, shimmed, squared and leveled inside the pocket, foam insulation should be applied. Additional steps include, caulking the interior of the window, installing the new interior stop moldings, and sealing the exterior with a high-quality silicon after the aluminum capping has been installed. This is generally the most inexpensive installation option because the old window pocket has been repurposed.

When speaking with a window installation company, make sure that this type of installation includes the application of any insulation, as this step is sometimes overlooked, and could be the reason you receive a lower price.

A professional window contractor will let you know which type of window and installation method is best for your home, and that all comes down to experience. When interviewing window contractors, it is important to identify the type of installation they will be providing, and ensure they provide a written contract, which includes all materials and labor that will be supplied, and whether their services will provide a “finished” product, as in some cases, there may be finish work that will increase the cost of the overall installation.

John Kolbaska, President The Men with Tools Home Remodeling

(347) 815-4151 www.themenwithtools.com