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Window Retrofit Vs Window Replacement - The Differences

Find out the difference between a window retrofit and a window replacement.

Schedule your FREE in-home, no-obligation consultation today!

When you know your home needs work on its windows – because they’re old, leaking, drafty, cracked and inefficient – you have a couple of different options to consider. The ways to go about addressing your old, worn out windows are:

Let’s take a look at these two approaches: retrofit vs full frame window replacement to upgrading windows in your Toronto home, as you seek to improve their efficiency and overall performance; see which one might be best for your situation. Read on.


Window Retrofit in Your Toronto Home

Window retrofit is an approach some homeowners take to address their existing under-performing windows.  Through the window retrofitting process, new, energy-efficient components are added to the existing window assemblies.  These might include adding:

This strategy is frequently cost-effective at improving the energy efficiency of older windows, particularly if their original construction is sound. It is especially useful in situations where there’s a desire to preserve the historical character of a building. It should be noted, however, that this approach may not be as effective as a full frame window replacement.

Window Replacement in Your Toronto Home

Window replacement, rather than working with what’s already in place, involves the full removal of the existing window assemblies, and installing completely new ones. It can significantly improve the energy efficiency of a home.  Full frame window replacement is typically a more expensive action than window retrofit, as more materials and labour are required. 

Sometimes, though, full replacement of windows may not be feasible, particularly in older buildings, due to the construction of the original assemblies, or the design of the structure.

The decision to either 1) retrofit or 2) replace windows is dependent on a few different factors, including:

Our in-house experts often assist with the decision making process, to arrive at the optimum strategy for any given situation. This would include a thorough examination of the existing window installations, how they currently perform, and the correct course of action based on the assessment.

Window Retrofit vs Replacement – the Pros and Cons

window retrofit vs replacement

We’ve described the differences between retrofit vs full frame window replacement in your Toronto house.  Now, let’s take a deeper look into the costs and advantages or disadvantages of each approach.

Retrofit Windows as a Lower Cost Option

Generally speaking, window retrofitting is less expensive when addressing your old windows, particularly if they are deemed to be of sound construction. Through the retrofit process, your window contractor will be replacing critical components, which may include:

The original frame, as long as it’s sound, will stay in place. The reduced cost is a result of the fact that you are retaining it. A window retrofit, depending on materials and labour, and the number of windows, can cost anywhere from under $1000 to several thousand dollars.

Replacing Windows to Improve their Efficiency and Lower Your Energy Costs

Full frame window replacement involves removal of the entire existing window assembly, and installing a new one in its place. While it is typically the more expensive action, it has a few distinct advantages over retrofit windows:

New, high efficiency windows, in terms of both their R-value and U-factor, can have a dramatically positive effect, both in winter heating and summer cooling savings.

How Long will it Take – Retrofit Vs Brick to Brick Window Replacement

Retrofitting of windows can take as little as a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the number of windows and the specific work to be done.

New construction windows typically take longer, again based on the number of windows – a few weeks is typical for full completion.

Our Falcon WD experts can take a look at the specifics of your situation, and come up with a reliable comparison and estimate for each course of action for your project.

The Best Materials for Window Retrofit and Window Replacement

retrofit vs replacement

Here are some of the most common window retrofit and replacement materials used today:

Window Retrofit & Replacement FAQs

Will retrofit windows leak wind-blown water?

Retrofit windows can definitely leak if not properly installed or if improper materials are used. A capable window contractor should perform the retrofit. They’ll know exactly what’s required and can also do inspections down the road to ensure watertightness.

Should my 20-year-old windows be replaced?

It depends on the quality of original construction.  If they are worn, drafty, leaking, or hard to open/close, it may be time to replace. Keep in mind, replacement gives you the opportunity to upgrade not only their appearance, but also their energy performance – offsetting their cost in lower energy bills.

Can windows last 30 years?

Typically residential windows last 15-30 years. Again, it depends on the original quality of both the materials and installation.  We find that in most cases, the 20-year mark is the time to replace windows.

Is it cheaper to replace all windows at once?

Economy of scale dictates that yes, it is generally less expensive to replace all windows as one project. 

Does replacing windows ruin walls?

There is inevitably some damage done to siding or stucco during a window replacement project. Often the trim of the new windows covers some of this; but prepare for some repair work afterward.

When is full window replacement the way to go? 

Your window professional can honestly assess your specific situation, and tell you when full window replacement is the best course of action. They can advise on the aesthetic improvements you’ll get, and the payback in terms of reduced energy bills.  Attempting to repair windows which are beyond repair is seldom a good idea. 

When does window retrofit make sense?

If your existing window frames are still in good condition and were properly installed, your window professional may advise retrofitting. Your current exterior and interior trim will be left intact during installation.

Full Frame Replacement vs Retrofit Windows in Toronto with Falcon WD

Our team works with many architects, contractors, and homeowners to help them assess retrofit vs brick to brick windows and doors replacement in Canada. Contact Falcon WD  to get an honest assessment from a qualified window professional.

There are times when full window replacement is the only option left; there are also situations where a window retrofit is an excellent choice.  Our expertise can help you determine the best course of action, based on all the information provided above. Please fill in the form to receive quick response.

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