Home Improvement Articles

Replacement vs New Construction Windows: The Essential Guide
Monday, January 9, 2023

If you’re looking for new windows for your home, you’ve probably come across terms like new construction and replacement windows. But you might not know what the difference is between the two.

And how do you know which option is the right choice for your home or addition? Your home and your specific needs will determine which type is suitable.

Don’t rush and make a decision just yet. Read on for the essential guide on replacement vs new construction windows.

What’s the Difference?

You may think that replacement windows and new windows are the same thing, but that’s not the case.

Replacement windows replace the windows in an existing home. They fit the existing window frame. That’s why replacement windows are sometimes called retrofit windows.  Your contractor will remove the old wooden sashes from the old wooden jambs.  We will probably cap the old wood jambs with aluminum... and then install a replacement window that does not have an integrated nail fin.

New construction windows are mostly used for new homes or home additions, but they are our Go-To style for most update projects because they allow us to flash and detail the air barrier and the water barrier of the home properly.  New construction windows have a nail-fin frame, which allows them to be nailed directly onto the home’s framing. When building an addition, new construction windows can help the new edition blend in and look like it was always a part of the house.

Both replacement and new construction windows can come in a variety of styles and materials.  But be wary of contractors selling you a cheap install.  You may get exactly what you pay for as we reveal in this "Buyer Beware" episode of Forever Home.  Click the play button below to learn more. 

Replacement vs New Construction Windows for an Existing Home

If you have an existing home and your wooden window frames are still in a good condition, replacement windows are your best option. Your existing window opening can be measured, then a replacement window ordered to that exact size.

Replacement windows are also perfect for houses made out of brick or stone, Stucco and some Cement Board siding construction, since the house’s exterior is not easily removed like with a traditional vinyl siding house.

However, if your wood window frames are in bad shape, or if you have Vinyl New Construction windows, they will have to be replaced. That’s when using new construction windows for an existing home is a good idea. The existing window frames can be removed and replaced, and the new construction windows can then be installed onto the existing Rough Opening.  Clear as mud?  These videos may help. 

New construction windows are also a good idea if you want to increase your viewing area in an existing space. They’re also great for allowing more natural light into your home, which helps to reduce your home’s energy consumption. Approximately 25-30% of home heating and cooling energy use is because of heat gain and loss through windows.

Exposure to natural light also has health benefits, such as bettering your vision, improving your mood, and helping to promote good sleep. New construction windows are a great way to increase your exposure to natural light.


The Cost of Replacement Windows vs New Construction Windows

Replacement windows are usually cheaper than new construction windows. This is because you are replacing the window and not the frame. You can also avoid construction on any surrounding interior and exterior walls.

However, for a new home or home addition, new construction windows can be easily installed. New construction windows are also better insulated than replacement windows and easier to maintain the air barrier of your home's wall assembly.

So while the initial cost of purchase and installation may be higher, they can save you money over time by providing better insulation.  They cut down on drafts and high end windows can provide better noise reduction from outside traffic.  They can also help increase the appeal of your home’s exterior, adding value to your home.


Still Unsure What Type of Window You Need?

If you’re still unsure about whether you need replacement or new construction windows, contact us. We can help answer any questions you have about replacement vs new construction windows.

Give us a call today at 484-748-0008.