Window Installation 101: What Homeowners Need to Know
Thursday, February 14th, 2019 by Barry Taylor
Learn the different types of window installation to get the right windows installed the right way.
Many homeowners do their homework before they hire a replacement window company. They’ll look at several different window types and options until they find the best windows for the best price. Then they think their work is done! Why not just sign the contract and leave the window installation up to the “experts” at the window company?
Unfortunately, buying the right windows doesn’t guarantee that you’ll achieve a more beautiful, comfortable, and energy-efficient home. To see those benefits, your windows also need to be properly installed. Let’s look at two of the most common types of window installation today.
Two Different Approaches to Window Installation
There are two common ways that replacement windows are installed: a typical insert and a full frame replacement.
Typical Insert: In the replacement window industry, it is also referred to as a “box frame,” or “pocket installation." This method is most commonly used when replacing wood windows. In this case, your existing window frames remain. The contractor removes the sash and hardware from the existing frame, leaving the inside trim undisturbed. The opening is cleaned and prepared. Then, the new window is inserted inside the existing frame. It is secured, sealed, and insulated inside and out. The existing exterior wood frame is then wrapped with PVC coil stock which provides a maintenance free exterior.
A typical insert is the most common window installation method today. It is less disruptive, less expensive, and quicker than a full-frame replacement.
Full-Frame Replacement: A full-frame replacement (also known as a “total tear out” or “full frame replacement”) removes the entire window. The frame, sash as well as interior and exterior trim are all removed down to the base framing. All that remains is the rough opening. In this case, the contractor spends more time to clear, insulate, and prepare the opening for the new window.
The window for a full-frame replacement also differs from a typical insert window. It includes vinyl “brickmold” to recreate the look and function of your original wood window frame. During installation, the contractor takes extra care to insulate and seal the window from water and air infiltration.
A full-frame replacement is more expensive than a typical insert due to the time and materials required. It also takes longer and is more disruptive to the homeowner. In many cases, new trim will need to be painted after installation.
When is a Full-Frame Replacement Better than a Typical Insert?
The most successful window installations happen when homeowners and window contractors decide on the right approach together. It’s tempting to just go with a typical insert. After all, it’s cheaper, easier, and less work for everyone involved. But depending on the age and condition of the home, a typical insert could be a mistake. Here are a few red flags to look for:
Leaks: Leaks in and around the windows can be cause for concern. Sometimes replacing the caulk around the window solves the problem. That won’t work for leaks caused by structural issues with the window frame or the wall.
Wood Rot: Over time, wood absorbs moisture, grows mold, and decays. This process damages the window frame and can spread. If rotting wood is left in place, it will continue to decompose. Wrapping rotting wood (usually done in conjunction with standard insert replacement) not only covers up a problem but in many cases accelerates the problem. Wood windows with rot or mold which have been wrapped with PVC coil stock will continue to degrade. Essentially, they rot from the inside out. The degradation is concealed to the homeowner in many cases until catastrophic damage to the sheet rock, flooring, or structural framing is observable.
Gaps and Spaces: As homes age, they naturally settle and shift. Over time, this can cause gaps and spaces around the windows. Caulk is not an effective, long term sealant for significant spacing. In these cases, reframing the window is the best option.
Unfortunately, these issues aren’t always easy to spot. The right window contractor will assess the structural integrity of your existing window frames and recommend the best type of installation for your home.
Replacement Window Installation: Insert vs. Total Tear Out
Custom Vinyl Products Specializes in Professional Window Installation, Every Day
At CVP, we pride ourselves on the quality of our product, our installations, and our commitment to “always do the right thing.” We look for solutions which not only make your home look great, but also protect the long term value of your home as part of our assessment. Replacing the windows in your home is a big investment which should last the life of your home. Choosing the right window and proper installation is essential achieving desired results.
Every installer on our team is an employee of Custom Vinyl Products and has a background in building construction. Our sales director, Michael Davenport, is a Class A Contractor. Plus, our sales and executive team has combined 125 years of experience in the homebuilding industry. You can rely on our expertise.
Still have questions about replacement window installation? Give us a call at 1-757-887-3194 or CLICK HERE to fill out a form!