Whether your home's windows have become old or you want a new look, finding the right solution for your window replacement project can be tricky.
Should you replace the entire window? Do you want to replace just the glass? Do you need to replace the whole window?
Insert window replacements may be the right solution for you. They are easier, more DIY friendly, and less expensive than a full window replacement.
But, depending on the shape of your windows and your goals for your project, there may be better choices than an insert window replacement.
At Southwest Exteriors, we offer full window replacements with high-quality, long-lasting windows.
While we only provide full window replacements, we want you to know what other options are available to receive the best solution for your home.
Our goal is to provide you with all the information you need to make the best-educated decision to replace your windows, whether it’s a complete window replacement, glass-only replacement, or insert window replacement.
This article will compare the pros and cons of an insert window replacement to a full one so you can know which option is better.
After reading, you’ll understand the main differences between the two types of window replacements and take the right next step in your project.
How do insert windows and replacement windows stack up against each other?
When comparing two types of window solutions for your home, you want to know the good and the bad.
Every window has its pros and cons. But do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to comparing insert and full replacement windows?
Let's examine the pros and cons of insert and full replacement windows. Then, you’ll better understand how they perform and which is best for you.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Insert Replacement Windows
Insert replacement windows can be a great alternative to full window replacements, but they will only work for some.
Insert replacement windows cost about $200-$600 as a starting cost. These costs do not include labor and installation.
If your budget for your project is most important to you, then an insert window replacement would be the more budget-friendly option. But, you must ensure your current windows and home are suitable for insert replacement windows beforehand.
When comparing the costs of replacement windows, it’s important to remember that many factors affect the price. So, while these costs outlined here are average starting costs, every window differs.
2. Insert window installations are quicker and easier
The second major benefit of insert replacement windows is that installation is much easier than a full window replacement.
The installation of insert windows consists of removing the existing window from the frame without completely removing the surrounding frame. The window is then inserted into the opening, caulked, and sealed, and it's done.
Full window replacements have many more steps than that. The window and surrounding frame must be removed, the area must be properly flashed, and weather sealed, then you must reinstall all trim and surrounding frames properly once the new window is set.
This is one reason full window replacements are more expensive than insert windows because of the installation.
But insert window replacements provide a quick and simple solution to replacing your windows if they are the right option.
3. Insert window replacements are more DIY-friendly than full window replacements
To further expand on the above benefit of insert replacement windows, they are more DIY-friendly. If you plan to replace your windows yourself, they are much easier to install compared to full windows.
You can buy insert and full replacement windows at local hardware chain stores. This makes them very accessible for the average DIY-er. But, insert windows are much easier to install yourself than full replacement windows.
Insert windows come with less risk when replacing yourself. Full replacement windows require many more steps to install properly without putting your home at risk.
If you are looking for an affordable and easy solution to replacing your windows yourself, insert windows may be your best option.
Drawbacks of Insert Replacement Windows
1. They will not fix underlying problems in your windows
The first drawback of insert windows is that they do not allow you to fix any issues lurking beneath your frame.
Because insert window replacements do not require removing the window frame, you cannot see what's happening behind it.
If you have problems like rot or insect infestation behind your windows, you will not know with an insert window replacement. The longer any problems go untreated, the worse they continue to get and the more they will cost you in the future.
If you suspect there may be damage behind your home’s windows, an insert window replacement is not the best solution.
The second con of insert windows is they are short-term solutions for window replacements.
Full window replacements ensure your new windows are installed properly. They allow the installer to look behind the window to find any underlying problems. Insert window replacements do not provide the same opportunity.
If you have any underlying problems underneath your windows, insert windows won't allow you to see what's happening.
This would allow the problems to worsen and ultimately cause your insert replacement windows to fail. You would then need a full window replacement in the future.
3. They won’t work for everyone depending on your window frame type
The third drawback of insert windows is they will only sometimes work for your current frame type.
When you replace your entire windows, you can switch from aluminum to wood windows, fiberglass to vinyl, and so on. With insert replacement windows, you don't have the luxury to exchange your old window type for a new one completely.
You will have to choose an insert replacement window that fits your current window's frame and is compatible with the frame. Some insert replacement window types won’t work with certain window frame types.
This is why even if you are considering an insert window replacement, you will want to consult a professional to ensure your new insert windows will fit properly in your home and last.
Insert replacement windows: Are they right for you?
Now that you know the top benefits and drawbacks of insert replacement windows, you can better understand if they are the best option.
If you are looking for a less expensive option to replace your windows yourself, then insert windows may be the better option. But, if you suspect there are any problems with your current windows, like rotting or insect infestation, an insert window replacement won’t fix those problems.
If you’re on the fence, it’s always best to consult a professional window replacement company to properly assess your windows and provide you with the best solution.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Full Replacement Windows
Similar to insert replacement windows, full replacement windows have their pros and cons. They are a great solution to fixing your windows, but they aren’t the right solution for everyone.
The first major benefit of a full window replacement is it provides you with a lifelong solution for your home.
Typically, you should only have to have your windows replaced once if you choose a high-quality window installed by an expert window replacement company. Your new windows will then be in your home for the rest of your time.
A full window replacement is a long-term solution compared to an insert window replacement.
So, if you are in your forever home or are a long-term homeowner who needs your windows replaced, consider a full window replacement to get the most out of your investment and enjoy your windows for the rest of your time in your home.
2. Replacement windows offer more customization options than insert windows
The second major benefit of a full window replacement is that full replacement windows allow you more customization options than insert replacement windows.
Whether you love to customize every element of your windows or want to have options, full replacement windows allow you more custom options depending on the window company you choose.
Many replacement windows allow you to customize the interior and exterior frame color, hardware finish, grid style, pattern, and glass. Insert windows do not have the same custom options.
If you want to replace your windows with something completely unique that will reflect your personal style, you will want to choose a full window replacement to get the most out of your new windows.
3. They allow you to protect your home better and longer
The final benefit of a full window replacement is they will protect your home longer and better than insert replacement windows will.
A full window replacement requires the entire frame to be removed and replaced. Insert windows are simply inserted into the frame.
This means if there are any underlying problems behind your windows, a full window replacement will expose them. You can then fix the problems and have your new windows installed properly to protect your home.
A full window replacement ensures any issues are resolved before inserting a new window, meaning your new windows will be installed properly and will last.
Drawbacks of a Full Window Replacement
1. They are more expensive than insert windows
The first con of a full window replacement is it is more expensive than an insert window replacement.
While a full window replacement is more expensive than an insert window replacement, they are made to last longer. Depending on your goals for your new windows, paying more for a full window replacement upfront may be the best decision for you.
2. They must be installed correctly to reap the full benefits
The second drawback of a full window replacement is that they must be installed properly to enjoy the full benefits of them and ensure they last as long as they should.
The old window must be properly removed, flashed and weather sealed around the frame, and the new window must be installed level and flush with the wall. The new window must then be properly caulked and sealed around the window for it to last.
You see, there are many steps one must take to install a new window properly. This makes full window replacements less DIY-friendly than insert window replacements and can make it harder to find the right contractor you trust.
3. It can be difficult to find a trustworthy window replacement contractor
The third and final drawback of a full window replacement is that it can take time to find a trustworthy contractor to replace your windows properly.
Finding the right contractor for your project takes time and effort. Period. Finding the right window replacement contractor that meets your wants, goals, and needs for your project is even harder. It can even make you feel like you want to give up and try to replace your windows yourself.
Insert Window Replacement vs. Full Window Replacement: Which is Better For You?
Now that you know the top pros and cons of an insert window replacement and full window replacement, you have a better idea of which type of window is better for you.
If you are looking for an easy DIY replacement window and don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, an insert window replacement may be the best option for you. But, it is not a long-term solution to fixing your windows and will not last as long as a full window replacement would.
If you are looking for a long-term solution to replacing your windows and want something that is made to last, a full window replacement is for you. Although it is more expensive than insert windows, working with an expert window contractor will ensure your new windows will last in your home.
No matter what you are considering for your new windows, it’s important to outline your goals for your project to get a clearer idea of what is best for you.
What is your budget? What type of windows do you want? What do you want them to look like? How do you want them to perform?
These are just a few questions to consider when shopping for home replacement windows.