When replacing your home’s windows, deciding between retrofit and new construction is an important factor in planning your renovation. What are retrofit windows? This process  involves replacing only the window glass, leaving the existing window frame intact. Learn more about the differences between retrofit windows vs new construction to make the best choice for your home improvement project.

Your Home Improvement Questions, Answered: What Are Retrofit Windows?

What does retrofit mean when planning a window replacement? Retrofit windows have specific advantages and disadvantages when it comes to style, budget, and the length of time the replacement takes. We’ll discuss retrofit windows pros and cons but, first, here’s what distinguishes them from new construction.

Retrofit Windows

What are retrofit windows? These options consist solely of window glass and are meant to fit in the existing frame and window opening. A window retrofit project should require no additional construction or renovation to your home’s interior or exterior and doesn’t necessarily require professional installation.

To ensure a proper fit, retrofit windows have a component around their perimeter that fits over the existing window frame. While retrofit windows vs replacement windows are virtually the same, two different types exist to best fit different exterior materials. Homes made of stucco or masonry with aluminum window frames utilize flush fin retrofit models. Those made of siding or brick with wooden window frames typically utilize block frame designs. 

New Construction Windows

By contrast, new construction windows involve replacing both the existing window glass and frame. This means that your home’s interior or exterior will be altered, especially if the shape or size of the window is changing. This often consists of removing exterior siding or masonry and interior drywall, requiring replacement pieces and professional labor.

what are retrofit windows

Retrofit Windows vs New Construction

Both retrofit and new construction windows can improve a home’s energy efficiency and value. However, a window retrofit project requires significantly less time and money than new construction windows. This is because no additional interior or exterior work is needed and an experienced DIYer could handle the project without professional assistance. 

However, retrofit windows are limited to fitting the existing window frame. This means that changing the size or style of the window isn’t an option. It also requires the existing frame to be in good condition to ensure a proper fit. For these reasons, new construction windows are typically used during new home construction, when adding an addition or if the home’s exterior is also being replaced.

Pros and Cons of Retrofit Windows

What are retrofit windows’ advantages and disadvantages? Budget, project length and size and style options are just a few of the issues that come into play.

Pros of retrofit windows:

  • Cost: Since a retrofit window installation requires no additional interior or exterior work, it costs significantly less than new construction. Professional assistance isn’t always needed, further reducing costs. What are retrofit windows’ average price? The majority are between $200-$1,800 per window, depending on the size and type.
  • Time: Retrofit windows take less time to install than new construction, making them ideal for projects with limited time.
  • Preserves original materials: Installing retrofit windows preserves the home’s primary window frame and other original exterior and interior materials. This makes them ideal for historic homes, enabling them to retain their look and value.

Retrofit window cons:

  • Requires a perfect fit: If the new window doesn’t fit the existing frame perfectly or the frame is damaged, leaks and breakage can occur. An improper fit can also decrease your home’s energy efficiency.
  • Lack of customization: Retrofit windows are made to fit an existing window frame, leaving no option for changing its size or shape.

Whether they’re retrofit or new construction, the team at Glass West can professionally install windows in your home or office. Schedule your expert consultation today!