When to Select Retrofit vs. New Construction Windows (and vice versa)

new construction

Homeowners can buy either retrofit or new construction windows when they want to install new windows in their home. The choice of which type of windows to purchase and install depends on the type of home and several other factors.

New construction windows, as the name implies, refer to a type of window contractors and do-it-yourself homebuilders use when building a new house. They also use new construction windows in a few other situations.

When to Install New Construction Windows

New construction windows are original to a home. If they need replacement later, homeowners can install retrofit windows. Here are some other opportunities to use new construction windows.

  • In most cases, construction workers and DIY homeowners should use new construction windows when adding an addition to the home. The one exception is when they plan to include part of an existing wall into the new addition.
  • When a window has deteriorated to the point it needs replacement, the supporting structures around it are typically in poor shape as well. Supporting structure includes the window frame, wall studs, interior drywall, and exterior siding. Even floor covering near the window may have rotted or fallen victim to termites. New construction windows make sense in this situation since old windows in this bad of shape already require extensive carpentry work.

When to Install Retrofit Windows

Also known as replacement windows, retrofit windows require removing the existing window to put in a different one. The most common reasons people purchase retrofit windows are that they want to upgrade to a new style or improve energy efficiency. Older windows tend to contain leaks that make it easy for warm air to escape in the winter and cool air to escape in the summer.

Homeowner also have the option to add features like spacers, argon gas fills, and low-E coating to improve the energy efficiency of their retrofit windows. Some window manufacturers add an energy efficiency rating to window packaging to allow consumers to make an informed purchasing decision.

Other Considerations When Choosing a Type of Window

Retrofit windows cost less and are not as labor-intensive to install as new construction windows. The process of installing a retrofit window only requires measuring the window frame, removing the old window, and putting in the new one. The two main types of retrofit windows are flush fin and block frame.

Flush fin retrofit windows are a good choice for homes with aluminum windows and an interior made from stucco or masonry. The flange on the outside of flush fin retrofit windows is large enough to cover the existing window’s frame. This type of window is especially popular in California.

Block frame retrofit windows are practical for homes with siding or brick on the exterior with windows constructed from wood. The perimeter of the window’s original wood frame can remain in place if it has not started to rot or has other major issues.

Unless homeowners have the skills and tools required to install a new window, working with an experienced contractor is usually the best bet. Not only will professional window installation take less time, but contractors guarantee both the product and their work.