Large windows outfitted with the Climate Seal Acoustic Series with art supplies at dusk

Window Inserts or Full Replacement: What’s Right for You?

Everyone has had to spend a lot more time indoors lately. Because of this, you may have noticed higher utility bills from increased use of your climate control systems. You may have also noticed just how loud the street outside your place gets during the day. New windows can make a world of difference for both of those issues.

Over time, the seal around your windows decays, creating gaps that lead to greater energy inefficiency and increased sound bleed. There are two primary options for window replacement. But how do you choose between installing window inserts vs full replacement?

How do you replace window inserts?

The majority of replacement windows are window inserts. The reason more window replacements are done with window insert kits is that they are often easier to install and simpler to maintain. In fact, once the inserts are in place, there really isn’t any maintenance required from the homeowner aside from cleaning.

Replacement window inserts also allow for the preservation of interior and exterior trim around the window. If you have an older or historic home and the woodwork around the windows is an important part of your home’s charm, window inserts are a good idea for you. Additionally, if you like the way your existing trim fits with your personal design aesthetic, inserts allow you to keep what you like while improving your home’s energy efficiency.

Beyond the benefit of increased energy efficiency and the long-term savings that brings, there is an immediate financial benefit in the form of window insert cost. The fact of the matter is that, when considering window inserts vs full replacement, window inserts cost a lot less. That’s because installing window inserts requires fewer materials and less labor.

Are window inserts worth it?

There is a chance that window inserts could result in slightly less visible glass because your new windows are being installed “within” your window frame—another name for this process is pocket window replacement. The difference is often negligible, though. Another potential drawback to installing inserts is that the process doesn’t allow for a simultaneous check for water damage in the way that full replacement does.

The pros and cons of window inserts break down pretty simply. The installation process is inexpensive, simple, and requires very little maintenance once it is done. The process is very common, so finding experienced and affordable contractors won’t be difficult. Pocket window replacement allows you to keep your existing window frame and sill and all of your internal and external trim. As far as cons go, you may lose some visible glass space and you won’t have the opportunity to check the walls around your windows for mold or water damage during the installation process.

Full Window Replacement

When considering pocket window replacement vs full-frame replacement, it is important to remember that “full frame replacement” means just that—tearing out and replacing the entire window frame. While this is a more intense process than installing window inserts, it has its benefits.

New window frames can give your home’s design a fresh start. Whether you want to make your home look more rustic or more sleek and modern, the right window frame sets the tone. It also allows for more control over the materials your home is made of. If you had a bulky frame, you could replace it with one that is slimmer and more suited to your visual tastes. Full frame window replacement allows you to truly customize your windows.

Full frame replacement also allows you to perform some preventative maintenance checks on your walls. Hidden water damage or mold growth can cause major problems down the line. Checking for these issues while the frame of your window has been removed is simple and can save you a great deal of money if you are able to stop an issue before it becomes a big problem.

How much does it cost to replace an entire window?

Speaking of money, though, there is a factor that must be taken into consideration—the full frame window replacement cost. Completely removing and replacing a window frame requires significant labor. When you combine that labor with the cost of materials, you get a pretty sizable bill. Over time, you will most likely recoup that cost thanks to lower heating and AC costs, but it’s still going to be a big hit to your budget in the short term.

Another potential issue with full frame window replacement is finding someone to do it. Because window inserts are so cost effective, most contractors default to using them. So finding qualified full frame replacement window companies that charge reasonable rates may take some extra effort on your part.

So looking at the big picture: full replacement allows you to customize your windows more fully than using inserts and gives you the chance to perform some preventative maintenance checks, but the procedure is costly and finding someone to do it may require a little more legwork.

Sound Proofing

Of course, energy efficiency isn’t the only reason to replace your windows. The same gaps that can mess with your climate control efforts can also let a lot of sounds come in from outside your home. No need to worry, though. There are windows designed specifically to address acoustic issues.

Whether you have a new home or live in an older building, window inserts are probably your best bet for issues of sound. Acoustic window inserts can fit into any shape or size window—no matter the age of the building—and begin improving the sonic landscape immediately.

If you’ve already made the decision to replace your full window frame, your new window can obviously be designed with acoustics in mind. But if the only reason you want to change the glass in your windows is acoustic, window inserts just make more sense financially.

The Choice is Yours

Improving energy efficiency and reducing sound pollution in your home are both great reasons to change your windows. When you look at window inserts vs full replacement, there are many factors you need to consider. Factors of cost, design, materials, and maintenance have to be balanced against each other. More often than not, installing window inserts will be the right choice, but there are certainly times that full window replacement may be called for. It’s up to you. New windows will help you save money and live more comfortably—so the only question that remains is how do you want to make this change?

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