Full Frame vs. Insert Replacement – Which do I need?
If your windows are in need of replacement, they will fall into 1 of 2 categories. The first is an insert replacement window, which is an excellent way to get all the features of a brand new window without disturbing existing trim and siding. These units fit neatly into existing frames, replacing the old sash and balances. The beauty of them is that they’re custom made specifically for each opening and can be installed quickly. Sometimes referred to as “pocket windows”, inserts fit within and are secured to the frame of existing windows. Installation is usually very fast – often a couple hours or less per opening. They can usually be effectively installed in openings that are watertight and show no signs of decay. Inserts should never be installed in openings where rot, decay, or signs of water migration into the building is present. These types of problematic openings require that the defects be corrected, lest they lead to decay of the building structure itself. Click here to learn about insert windows.
The second option is what’s known as a full frame replacement. As the term implies, replacement using a full frame window consists of replacing all the components of an existing window, from trim to operational elements. Full frame replacements are an option when a particular unit has deteriorated to such a point it cannot be salvaged, when the desire to change from one type of unit to another exists (switching from a double hung to a sliding window, for example), when modifying the size of a particular opening, and of course in new construction applications. This is generally the most invasive and expensive of the options and one we advise reserving for cases where the existing window is severely damaged or when there’s a need to address any of the issues mentioned above.
Full frame installations involve removing the damaged window in its entirety. Through this process, access is gained to the building’s structure and surrounding areas. This permits the installation of important moisture management details such as sill pans and flashings. Great care is taken to weather-proof these openings, as any water that may make its way past the window itself must be directed outside, rather than finding a path into the building. After the opening is prepared, a full frame unit is installed and new interior and exterior trim is applied. This is also an opportunity to upgrade the surrounding trim from something that may have been average to something extraordinary.
So which of the options outlined above is best for your situation? We’ll help you evaluate that question and formulate a plan to effectively deal with the specific issues you’re facing.