Replacement Windows Installation Reviews

Replacement Windows Reviews

Home : Review Topics : Replacement Windows Installation Reviews

Replacement Windows Installation Reviews

Hey there and welcome to our 2023 replacement windows installation reviews page that tackles a range of window replacement installation topics and aspects. If you want to skip right to the consumer reviews and answers section, use this link. Just below this video, I was going to explain the difference between replacement window vs new construction installation. Or if you'd prefer to watch the video, that's works too!

Dane - Site Editor - Updated In 2024

Replacement Windows vs New Construction Installation

There are two basic replacement window installation methods. The first, and by far the simplest, is called pocket installation…it’s also sometimes called retrofit's also sometimes called insert installation...and sometimes referred to as replacement window installation. For simplicity sake, I’ll refer to all of these as pocket installation from here on out.

Pocket Window Installation

With pocket installation, the old window is cut out of the opening, leaving you with a big hole in your wall. The new window unit is then inserted directly into the opening and attached to the wood frame of your home through predrilled screw holes in the new window frame. The holes are covered over and then the window unit is insulated using a low expanding foam and then caulked to create an airtight seal both inside and out. Then, any exterior and/or interior trim is installed.

This process is much simpler and is the less expensive of the two installation methods. The downside to pocket installation is that you will typically lose about a half inch of glass area on all four sides. With larger openings, this really isn’t too big of an issue. With small openings, however, it can feel like you’re losing quite a bit of glass area. So, that in a nutshell is pocket installation.

"On average, retrofit window installation cost should run $100 to $150 per window, with $125 per window being the average cost."

Full Frame Window Installation

Now onto full frame installation, sometimes referred to as new construction installation. When your windows were originally installed, they came attached to a flange or nailing fin that runs along the top and sides of the window. So not only must the window be removed, but also the flange that sits beneath whatever material is on the outside of your home. So, of course, removing 6 inches of material around the outside of each window is considerably more labor intensive.

Often times, the reason for this more labor intensive approach is due to wood rot around the old windows. So at this point, the installers would replace whatever wood or rot exists around the wood frame so that you have an opening that is water free and damage free and ready to go.

The installers would make sure the opening is square and plumb, and then they would place the new window with the flange into the opening. Now this flange or fin insures that the new window is very secure in the opening. Once the window is nailed in, they would apply flashing to the header and sides, then use a low expanding foam to create an airtight seal both inside and out. Finally they would caulk the seams and replace whatever exterior material was originally removed. And that in a nutshell is full frame window installation.

"On average, full frame window replacement cost should run $200 to $500 per window, with $300 per window being the average cost."

Full Frame Window Replacement vs Insert Recap

Okay, to quickly recap, pocket installation is the simpler method that is less expensive, but you do lose some glass area. Full frame window installation is the more expensive and labor intensive method, but you don’t lose any glass area in the process.

So, there you go — a simple primer on window installation. One note here: there are lots of potential — I’ll use the word things — that can complicate the scope of work required on individual projects so due keep that in mind. It’s one reason why answering the question of how much should my replacement windows cost is so difficult to answer. It’s also the reason why we suggest getting four independent window bids on your project.

Get Our Recommended Window List

Also please consider filling out the free form on our site for 3 quality window price quotes — it’s how we afford to provide free consumer information. We’re not incentivized by ANY company and will help you with ANY questions you might have, and help you navigate ANY bids you receive. That’s our guarantee to you!

Window Installation Method Question

Dane, I also wanted to ask if perhaps you could comment on the installation method. I have a stucco house and the window co told me it would be retrofitted windows. Is that the method for a stucco house? I want to preserve the current look of my home where very little of the white vinyl frame shows from the exterior plus also do not want issues with leaking windows down the line.

Elizabeth - Homeowner - from 2022

[Website Editor Answers]

Elizabeth, with stucco homes, a retrofit installation is the much easier way to put in new windows. As long as they properly seal the opening, there shouldn't be any issues with leaking -- that's where installation is so important, so make sure to get a quality outfit to do the work. For pricing information, check out our window replacement cost calculator.

You can put in full frame windows in stucco homes, but they have to do a ton of extra work and matching the stucco color after they've repatched all the stucco is a real art form. I almost think you need to wait until you are repainting your stucco home if you are doing full frame window replacement.

Dane - Website Editor - from 2022

Do It Yourself Window Installation

Hello Dane, I hope to take little of your time, and am happy to be redirected to elsewhere on the site if I've missed something.

I'm a novice, but I'm interested in attempting DIY replacement windows installed in my 1906 house. I haven't been able to find clear answers on the best replacement window for purchase by a homeowner. Many home improvement stores seem to have budget windows, but if I'm saving on labor I'll gladly spend extra on materials.

Is there a recommendation for a superior model of window for a DIYer? Is there an option for this that doesn't sacrifice the quality from windows a contractor may have access to?


James - Homeowner - from 2021

[Site Editor's Answer]

James, if you are interested in DIY, you have a couple different options. One, you can take my list of good windows and search for local dealers who may or may not be willing to sell to you directly. It's kind of a crap shoot, but I have certainly heard of dealers willing to sell direct to the "public." Okna Windows is one of the brands that I've heard will occasionally sell direct.

If you can't find anyone willing to sell to you, you have to go the HD, Lowes, Dixieline, etc. route. Mostly they sell lower end or mid range vinyl windows. A decent mid range vinyl window with competent installation is not the worst option. I would suggest speaking with the people in the window department and asking the question, "if you were putting a window in your home that you sell here, what would it be if money were no object?" I like this question because they are sort of putting their money where their mouth is -- not totally, but you get the idea.

[List Redacted -- contact us directly (Dane or Tim) for our good and great windows list.]

Dane - Site Editor - from 2021

Standard And Full Frame Installation

Love your website. What is the difference between standard and full frame installs. When I try to google it always compares insert to full frame.

Don - Homeowner - from 2020

[Website Editor Answers]

Don, the site calculator refers to replacements as inserts. Essentially cutting out the window while it is in the frame and placing another window in that same opening, then securing it to the studs using screws through the window frame. Full frame replacement takes out the entire window and nailing fin, pulling the opening back to the frame and then installing a new construction window (the window with the nailing fin), flashing and sealing the window, and then redoing the exterior and/or interior.

Here is a good article that gives a little more data and some general window installation cost information. Prices can vary greatly depending on how much wood rot or replacement work is required of the frames.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2020

Retrofit Or Full Frame Replacement

Dane - There is a dealer that only replaces the full window including the frame and claims there will trouble later, as soon as 5 years, with only changing the window part. Of course damage must be corrected but is there an overall benefit to routinely changing the frame also? This is a reputable local dealer. Also what do you think about wrapping the exterior wood trim with vinyl or aluminum?

Mark - Homeowner - from 2018

[Website Editor Answers]

Mark, the best way to know whether you should go with a retrofit or a full frame replacement is by getting 3 or 4 more bids. Basically what you're doing is getting free advice that at some point will give you a consensus on what the best course of action is for the overall condition of your existing frames.

Wrapping the outside with vinyl is a great way to protect the frame long term for moisture. Again I would get the opinions from the different window companies and see if you can't get a consensus on this point as well.

Dane - Website Editor - from 2018

HD Replacement Window Services

I would like review of Home Depot replacement window services. Thanks.

Annette - Homeowner - from 2017

[Site Editor's Answer]

Annette, in general I'm not a fan of HD installation due to the fact that they pay their subcontractors such a low fee that is typically a per window payout. This means they pay by the number of windows they install instead of by the specific job. This tends to incentivize the installers to go as quickly as they can, instead of being very thorough with their work. This isn't to say that there aren't good installers, because there are. I have met some who were extremely conscientious and very good at their jobs.

However, I have also heard from many consumers who had installers who didn't do a good job -- seven years after the install there is scant luck that you are going to get them to come out and do the job right.

I would find my own installer using craigslist, yelp, etc. over HD. While the company does sell a couple of good windows at a good price, the majority of windows they carry are low end vinyl windows that I would not recommend putting in your home.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2017

Ply Gem Pro Installation Issues

Hi Dane. Our builder used the Ply Gem Pro series and I had issues with them while still in the building phase. They were complicated to lock. You push bottom sash down and top sash comes with it, not allowing you to line up the lock without pushing/pulling and leaning into it to line up locks. They had the rep lubricate the tracks a little better, but now I noticed when it's locked shut and supposedly sealed I can see daylight in the corners and feel air coming in from these small openings.

Is this a window issue or bad installation. The house is brand new; not happy with these windows. Have you heard this issue before?

- Homeowner - from 2017

[Site Editor's Answer]

Vicki, the locks not lining up could be an installation issue. The fact that you can see daylight in the corners is DEFINITELY an installation issue. Window openings are holes in your walls and if you can see through to the other side, that's about as bad as you can get. Talk about losing money on heat and/or cooling costs.

If I were you, I might do this -- call up one or two local window companies and say you may need to replace a couple of windows. Have them come out and give you a bid (...even though you aren't going to go with them...) Get their opinion and ask what they would charge to re-install the window(s) that you are having an issue with. The Ply Gem Pro series is a decent mid range window, but obviously poor installation trumps all.

I hate offering this advice, but it does provide you with a couple of real opinions and perhaps some pricing to have it done right. If they say its an installation problem, see if they can put that in writing and maybe go back to the builder. I have a feeling you aren't going to get much satisfaction from the builder, but it's worth a shot. If the builder refuses, tell him that you are going to report him to the BBB and will provide a very real review of them on yelp, etc. That may get their attention.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2017

Install Issues With Simonton Or Vinylmax

If our contractor has installed the Simonton 5500 series and is willing to install Vinylmax Edison series, should I be concerned as to whether or not he can do that? Or is installing one window pretty much the same as installing another.

- Homeowner - from 2017

[Site Editor's Answer]

Typically there should not be any issues installing one window or another…not always the case, but it shouldn't be an issue — make sure he feels comfortable installing it and go from there...

Tim - Site Editor - from 2017

Installation Step Proposal

If both the Okna 500 and NT Presidential series are foam filled and the price is now within a couple of thousand of dollars, do you still think Okna is the way to go? Also, the Okna rep does use foam spray in the cavitiy of the window opening and then caulks and seals it. I do have the exact installation method for the NT windows below. They are different and I would appreciate your thoughts on which is better or are they equal but different.

Below is the statement on the NT installation: We used to use the spray foam at installation but it can be quite messy (especially on porous brick!). We still can use the spray foam per a client's request. Although there are several methods and schools of thought to window installation, we like to get a moderately tight fit window, and fill the gap with the window sealant we get direct from the window manufacturer. This is a proven, time-tested, method that looks and performs great.

Set the new windows - shim for square and plumb & secure with corrosion resistant screws.
Insulate the perimeter of the windows with AAMA 812 certified, Hilti minimal expanding foam.
Ultra Windows' responsibilities:
Seal the exterior with OSI Quad sealant, and the interior with latex caulk.
Install new alarm contacts on all wired windows.
Measure and order the windows as specified.
Cover the floors in the work areas with drop cloths.
Remove any alarm contacts and cut the paint away from the old windows.
Remove the old window frames, apply minimal expanding foam behind the brick and/or siding.
50% upon signing with the balance due upon completion.
Customers' responsibilities:
Remove the drop cloths, vacuum the floors in the work areas.
Remove all job related debris from the jobsite, leaving it broom clean.
Issue Ultra Windows' lifetime workmanship warranty and Okna's lifetime material warranty.

Kathy - Homeowner - from 2017

[Site Editor's Answer]

Kathy, I would go with the Okna 500 series window. The installation steps look good to me and honestly if he has a good reputation, then whatever method he feels comfortable with is the one he's going to use and get the best results. If he's worth his salt, which it sounds like he is, he is going to clean up any mess he makes to make sure you are a happy customer.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2017

Window Retrofit vs Full Replacement

We have the 8 x 4 foot builder grade slider vinyl window that is going to be replaced with vinyl casements on each end and a stationary center. One company is quoting it as a tear with nail fins.The other is a retrofit installation. Which is the better way to go?

Carol - Homeowner - from 2016

[Site Editor's Answer]

Carol, there is simply no way for me to tell you which approach is the better one. They both have their pros and cons. I would get two more bids and see if you can get a consensus. At the end of the day, the tear out will be save you glass area, but may cost quite a bit more. The retrofit will usually lose some glass area and may not be quite as clean looking, but it will be less expensive.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2016

Window Installation Options

I have had four different window guys come to the house. First, Simonton 5050, the second is from Soft-Lite Windows both replace by razor cut between window and dry wall from the inside--both quotes around $7000. Third guys said don't need to replace windows, but I need to have glass only replaced in three at $300 per window. Fourth guy said everyone else is installing windows incorrectly, and I need to have all the trim work completely removed and windows cut out from the outside to the frame- $12000 quote. How do you install replacement windows? I have one broken seal, windows sweat, and they are builder grade, metal, double pane windows installed in 1991. Should I repair or replace?

Jennifer - Homeowner - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

Jennifer, it sounds like you have run the gamut in terms of the recommendations for installation of replacement windows. The first two estimates are suggesting a retrofit replacement window, which replaces the window, without touching the existing sills, frames and/or exterior casing. You do lose some glass area when the new replacements go in, but if done correctly, you won't lose much.

The third is simply replacing the glass and the fourth is suggesting a full frame replacement. The full frame replacement is only necessary if the sills and casings are in bad shape. Are they? I'm assuming it's wood so any local handyman should be able to tell you what sort of shape they are in.

Asking what the right course of action is is a tough one without knowing more about the project specifics. My suggestion would be to get a few more bids and see if you can't get more of a consensus from local installers. It, unfortunately, may be the case that you are in that gray area where all three solutions are correct. I would probably avoid paying $300 per window to replace the glass. You should be able to get the 5050 series with the retrofit installation for what, $400 or so. The 5050 is an okay window, the newer Simonton Asure series is a slightly better option that ought to be available.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2015

Retrofit Windows

Can I have windows made to fit my exsisting frames?

Mike - Consumer - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

Mike, if your existing windows are new construction, meaning they have the nailing fin across the top and side, then you would have to buy a retrofit window in order to fit your frame. If your window is not new construction, then removing the window and replacing it with a replacement window should be fairly easy.

I take it you need a retrofit window, which does the installer cuts out the existing window and slides a replacement in its place. You will lose some glass area, but it is often the easiest and least costly option. I would suggest you get a few companies out to your place to give you an estimate and have them make recommendations on different installation options and pricing.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2015

Window Drip Cap

We just received a quote for installing 15 of the Sunrise Restorations series. Does there need to be a Drip Cap installed above these windows. They will be installed on a vinyl sided house with J channel around them. The salesperson said no drip cap would be needed, they would caulk between the window and home sheeting and that would keep all water away from the sheeting. We currently have a drip cap on the windows we will be removing and I am concerned about not reinstalling them with these new windows. Thanks for your help!

Judy - Homeowner - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

Does there have to be a drip cap, no. Would I insist on a drip cap as an extra precaution so that down the road no water gets in, especially 10 years down the road when the caulk begins to deteriorate, yes. Ask what they would charge to add new drip caps. If they don't want to do it, there should be someone in your area that could come in and add new drip caps at a reasonable charge. So no, they aren't required, but if you live in an area that gets lots of rain, I'm of the opinion that it's better to be safe than sorry.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2015

Wood Stain Question

Hello....A customer of mine had windows put in and wants me to stain or paint them. She was told that only a gel stain can be used. Was wondering why i cant use a regular oil stain cant be. The gel stain is very messy but i would really like to explain to her why only gel stain. Also...if painting, can i use Bin (zinzer) it is alcohol base. I want to make sure the alcohol does not loosen the thin wood. These are work on the interior by the way.....Thank you and will be anticipating your reply.

Rocco - Homeowner - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

Rocco, I have to say this is not my specialty. Most real wood windows can take either a standard stain or a gel stain - I prefer the standard stain because of how it goes on and penetrates the wood. The gel stain tends to sit more on the surface. What brand of window is it, I would probably call them up and ask them, although I wouldn't necessarily trust someone in the home office to provide the correct answer if there are any issues with the wood finish. I would insist on talking to someone on the floor who deals with the actual windows day in and day out.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2015

Related Topics: Simonton Windows Review

Private Policy