Retrofit vs full window replacement, which one is for you? We understand the struggle when it comes to window replacement in Canada.

That is why we have contacted Ecoline Windows specialists, so they elaborate on everything Canadian homeowners need to know about full-frame and retrofit replacements.

Read on to find out more!


Retrofit Window Replacement

A cheaper alternative between the two, this type of replacement is often preferred by those looking for a replacement on a budget.

Here, new glass units are replaced within the existing window frames.

The process is referred to as retrofitting since all the installers are doing is replacing new glasses on older frames.

What this means for you is that there is less invasion into the wall structure and, subsequently, it is less labor-intensive.

While this approach might be cheaper, there is no consideration to the current state of the frames.

This, therefore, means that retrofit window replacement might not fix issues stemming from the frame itself. And because of this, retrofit replacement is not recommended for older homes.

More often than not, the frames, brick molds, and casings are usually compromised, rendering retrofit installation ineffective.

Advantages of Retrofit Window Replacement

  • Easier and faster installation. This entire process will not have you spend too much time waiting for your windows to be replaced;
  • It is relatively cheap compared to the alternative;
  • For those who are looking to increase the value of older homes before resale, retrofitting a go-to option;
  • You don’t have to spend any more money on replacing the exterior of the house since the window size and frame will remain the same, and there won’t be any damage to the walls.

Disadvantages of Retrofit Window Replacement

  • Retrofitted windows do not put into consideration the condition of the frame. This is a huge disadvantage to this type of replacement because the problem with the existing structure might remain unsolved;
  • This type of window replacement doesn’t give room to a change in the size and shape of the windows.

Full-frame Window Replacement

Better known as Brick-to-Brick installation, this type of replacement is as thorough as they come. Full-frame installation involves the replacement of every single window hardware present.

Right from the brickmould, casing, and even the jam extensions are replaced with new ones.

This process is quite labor-intensive and more expensive than retrofit since every part of the window is literally torn down to the brick.

One major perk to this process is that any damage to the frame is quickly isolated, and the installers can evaluate the level of damage.

Full frame replacement is usually a safe option for anyone looking to replace their old windows here in Canada, particularly those from regions with harsh weather.

Since the recommended replacement frame material is vinyl, your windows should last longer and serve you better.

Advantages of a Full Window Replacement

  • Full window replacement gives room for the installer to fix every single problem with the window. Tearing down the entire window to the wall gives the professionals the chance to identify water damage problems that otherwise might go unnoticed;
  • This approach gives room to the change in window styles and size.

Disadvantages of Full Window Replacement

  • It is costly.  It goes without saying that the work which requires replacing the entire unit definitely comes at a cost. A full-frame replacement, approximately 15-20% more expensive than a retrofit installation. However, while others might look at the initial cost, most look at the price as a future investment. Remember, new windows will serve you a long while;
  • The general appearance of your house might change. The constructor might have to change a section of the exterior wall to accommodate new window frames. If this is not what you are looking for, it is best to go the retrofit route.

Retrofit or Full-frame Installation: Which Way to Go?

The type of replacement you settle for will always be informed by the current state of your windows.

Many window companies here in Canada will try to convince you to go for one of the styles if it suits them to turn a quick buck. Consider retrofitted windows if:

  • You are confident there is no water or moisture damage to your frames;
  • You want a cheaper option of renovating your windows;
  • You don’t need to change the shape or size of your windows.

On the flip side, full window replacement is the recommended type of renovation. This is because it means an entire improvement in your window’s effectiveness and curb appeal too.

Go With a Reliable Window Company

No matter which route you choose when shopping for new windows, retrofit, or a full replacement, it is absolutely crucial to find and deal with a company that will do the job perfectly.

Do not forget to check:

  • Company’s experience and reputations;
  • Whether the company follows CSA guidelines and building codes;
  • What units the company offers. As a rule of thumb, windows should be Energy Star rated and NAFS-11 tested to comply with the industry standards and help you cut on energy bills.

Take Away

Getting new windows regardless of the replacement type you undergo is always a move in the right direction.

Retrofitted windows’ value and selling point are in the financial implications, while full-frame windows are in the overall effectiveness.

However, remember that water damage may not always be visible without removing the entire frame.

If you settle for retrofit window replacement, moisture damage will eventually catch up with the frame, and your windows will have to go as well.

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