Part One: What Are Replacement Windows? – The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Replacement Windows

Unless your home is newly constructed, it’s probably safe to say that it’ll have a number of existing windows that’ll soon need to be changed out. Over time, those old windows may have developed issues, or you may simply want to update your home’s look or are looking to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency. Here’s where you’ll want to consider getting replacement windows.

Replacement windows are meant to be installed in existing wall openings to minimize disruption to existing trim, siding and exteriors. Often, because replacement windows are installed within existing frames, they are slightly smaller than the original window.

There are three kinds of replacements homeowners can opt for, depending on the condition of their old windows:

• Sash replacement. In a sash replacement, existing frames are given new parts: old sashes and parting stops are removed, and new jamb liners are added. This is an economical way to have your windows replaced, but it does have a number of aesthetic disadvantages.

• Sash-and-frame replacement. Also called a pocket window, a sash-and-frame replacement is the typical “replacement window”. A new unit is fitted into old jambs and stops with new jambs and liners. This is the least labor-intensive of all the replacement window types; however, it is also the most expensive.

• Full window replacement. A full window replacement involves installing a totally new unit with all-new components: from framing to glazing, sealants, caulking, and insulation.

Different materials may be used for replacement window frames, including vinyl, wood, aluminum-clad, and fiberglass and other composites.

What’s the big deal with replacement windows?

In recent years, Remodeling Magazine has reported high resale values for homes with replacement windows. This year, admittedly, recoup values appear to be lower than the figures seen in 2014 – but that shouldn’t discourage you from including replacement windows in your home improvement plan. There are various advantages associated with replacement units, some of the most beneficial of which include:

• Energy efficiency. Swapping out your old window unit for a new one brings the promise of potentially enjoying higher energy efficiency. Most sash-and-frame units, for instance, feature low-e glazing, which can help facilitate heat loss (or gain, depending on existing climate conditions) inside your home. Full units, on the other hand, can be designed for maximum energy savings – from the framing to your choice of gas fills.

• Improved performance. Overall, your window’s functionality increases when you replace damaged parts with new ones. New jamb liners in a sash replacement could mean easier operation for double-hung windows, while a full replacement can bring benefits such as natural daylight, improved ventilation, and better heat control to your home.

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, in the upcoming installment, let’s examine whether or not replacement windows are necessary for your home. While we’re at it, let’s also look at some of the considerations we’ll need to keep in mind for special projects.