Full frame replacement vs. Inserts aesthetics

dryslickOctober 5, 2009

WeÂre replacing the windows on the front of our 1969 brick colonial with aluminum clad and IÂd be interested in any opinions people have on using an insert instead of a full replacement.

Has anyone how has gone with inserts then regretted they didnÂt spend the extra money to do the full frame? Or is it something that you donÂt really notice, meaning a little less glass space and a little thicker frame is really not obvious to most people? If so, why spend the extra money if you donÂt need to? We're not concerned with disturbing the existing interior trim so that isn't an issue.

A couple of the window companies we have gotten estimates from has said most people would go with the inserts but IÂd also be interested in what people think on this forum. I know from reading various posts there are many people on this forum who have really thought through their decisions in detail. I donÂt want buyerÂs remorse in the future. My wife would be fine with either option but IÂm more into the house integrity issues. We donÂt have a historic home so it is down to personal preference.

IÂm not sure if this is helpful but weÂre in the Washington, DC metro area. WeÂre replacing the 11 windows on the front and sides of the home. One estimate was 200-300 more per window for a full frame. A second estimate was only $110 more per window (on Marvin Ultimate double hungs). IÂm waiting on a third estimate. At 200-300 more per window, I would need to go with the insert. However, at $110 more per window, the overall cost doesnÂt rule out the full frame option, which is why IÂm on the fence and seeking any opinions before making a decision.

Thanks in advance

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Windows on Washington Ltd

If the existing framework is in good shape, the only real drawback to an insert window is the loss of glass area.

Are the windows that are $200-300 apart comparing apples to apples?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 7:50PM
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I was told by one vendor that if I wanted to do full frame instead of inserts it would probably be 200-300 more per window. I didnÂt get an official quote beyond that because that was more than IÂd be willing to pay. Does that sound accurate to you or does that sound like too much of a difference?

The other vendor gave me an actual quote based on both full frame and inserts (apples to apples). He said it isnÂt that big of a difference ($110) because, the costs somewhat offset based on window costs vs. labor. The insert windows cost more per window but it requires less labor to install.

Does one of those scenarios sound more accurate than the other?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 5:33PM
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firt and foremost of course is that the guy you're hiring is good at and cares about what he's doing, there are alot of 'smash em in and get paid' guys out there

replacments should be pretty much apples to apples, variables being quality of window and weather or not the exterior trim will be capped with aluminum to be maintenance free

a couple things that might effect price difference with new construction might be,

interior trim- will the new mouldings match the rest of the house?

exterior trim- product, wood? aluminum capped? composite?
will they do what's necessary to keep the same look outside (ei. cut the siding back to accomodate wider trim, build a sill if thats what you have) or just trim within whatever space happens to be there

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 4:42PM
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We live in a home built in 1954, and looking to replace the single pane DH windows. We have decided to go back with a wood window and we are also wrestling with either doing an insert or a full rip out. So far we have a quote from Andersen and Pella and looking to get a quote from Marvin. The quote on insert vs. full frame was 6% higher from Andersen and 11% from Pella.

Right now I am leaning toward the full frame replacement; it will mean some work on my part to stain all of the new trim but based on what the two companies told me about their install process we will end up with a much tighter window area with the full frame install.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 2:33PM
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Marvin double hung wood here are all about the same price for full-frame, insert, or even tilt-pack (maybe $100 less on a $700 window) for materials.

Personally, I can't stand the look of the "extra" frame-in-a-frame.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 10:03PM
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I have been evaluating this for some time for my own needs and are here are my thoughts:
first, the amount of glass loss can be significant with inserts; the best thing to do is get the drawings or dimensions for your options and mask off the area with some tape on an existing window or two. Stand back and evaluate your happiness with the "new" daylight opening. If you are ok with it and you are happy with the price / performance of the inserts go for it.
Second, depending on what price range you are already in, full replacements might not be that much more and to me will yield a better looking job. For me, in the mid range most of the insert companies wanted $450 - $650 per window installed (24x60 double hung windows...small ones). By shopping around and talking to various sub contractors, lumber yards, general contractors I was able to find people who would install anything I bought for $200 - $300 depending on who I had quote the work. I can buy a Marvin Integrity wood Ultrex double hung window that will get the tax credit for $325, or a Lincoln double hung wood interior, vinyl clad exterior tax credit window for $285 add $250 for an install and I am in the same range as the inserts but will actually pick up viewable glass area!
Bottom line: my windows are not big enough to suffer any glass loss so I will go for full replacements and not have to pay a premium for it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 11:03AM
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We have gotten a couple of quotes for replacement windows. Both companies STRONGLY steered us towards the retrofit style. We have a lot of windows, so I don't think we'd notice the reduced glass as much as we'd notice, from the inside, the massive amount of vinyl window frame and trimming. Me for sure, my wife, maybe not so much.

What techniques are there for fixing that issue? Do most folks just case the windows out to get around the all vinyl look?

Does anyone have close up pictures they could post of what a retrofit window looks like from the inside without any kind of special work done to hide all the vinyl?


    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 8:27PM
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dryslick, I've been wrestling with this same issue. Got quotes from local guy (trimline window, much cheaper but still a decent window), Marvin Infinity, and Pella. I'm about to check out anderson too.

I was asking initially for just insert replacements, but when the Pella guy was here and I asked about glass loss, he was able to punch stuff into his laptop and give me an exact measurement of how much glass would be lost with the insert as opposed to full replacement. This is info we need! I don't know if Marvin or the local guy could tell me the same thing...they were kind of iffy about that issue, but I wasn't pressing for exact numbers.

The difference in cost for pella to do 7 windows was this:
insert replacement 7162. and for full replacement it was 7616. Not enough difference to give up the extra glass. This was for architect double hung. I would lose 1/2 inch in width total per window with full replacement. And one and a half inch with inserts.

Something else to consider. If you have any side by side windows, I would strongly consider full frame replacement. That middle wood between the 2 windows? It will be noticeably bigger with inserts.

The pella quote was given by the official pella people which should help with warranty issues down the road too. But the wood trim they use for full replacements here (pittsburgh area) is way thicker and bigger than what I currently have....it's nice and solid but it's a bit of a problem for me. My house is small and I like a bit of woodwork, but don't want big stuff.

We still haven't decided.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 9:35AM
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The thing I have not seen anyone on here mention or even give any thought to is replacement windows in a bedroom and the effect it will have on the egress requirements. Please people make sure that if you do use these especially on a second floor that god forbid you have a fire that the windows are still large enough for people to get out of. Remember the reason you lose glass opening is that the unit becomes SMALLER and the older house the bedroom windows most for the time barely met the egress code at the time and now the code is for an even larger clear opening.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 12:10PM
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