Types of Window Installations

When getting new windows in your home, besides deciding on the style and type of windows you would like, there is another important decision that needs to be made. Do you want to have the contractor to install the windows “retrofit” or a “full frame tear out”. There are important differences with each that we review below.

Retrofit Install

A retrofit window means that there is still a window frame in place when the new window is installed. There are a few advantages with this type of installation but also a few disadvantages.


  1. Interior and exterior trim or casing, does not require removal. Sashes and window stops are removed but the window frame stays put. This is a great way to go if window frames are in good shape or if you want to maintain the exterior and interior look of a home, say, for example, with a historic home where you can’t get the same trim style and want to maintain as much of the original look as possible.
  2. Overall, it’s less work for the window installer, so it’s generally, much less expensive than a full frame tear out. Once window sizes are ordered and delivered, installers can usually complete a whole house in one day. These days, getting your replacement windows can be almost instant.
  3. Generally, there’s a lot less cleaning up because there’s much less deconstruction going on in your home and also, because the installers can replace windows in one day, there’s less disruption in your daily routine. That’s especially important when you’re getting kids ready for school or if you have young children napping during the day.


  1. Because the original window frame stays in place, the contractor can’t examine the state of the insulation around the window. During the install of the new windows, it’s unlikely that anything can be done about the insulation around the window.
  2. Something to keep in mind is that because retrofit windows are installed inside the existing frame, the size of the window opening will change. This may not seem like a big deal but it can be. The inserted window has it’s own frame and it’s about 1.5 – 2 inches thick depending on the style you choose. That means that the view through area of the window will be reduced by 2 inches all the way around your window. Maybe that matters to you and maybe it doesn’t.

Full Frame Tear Out

The second type of installation is called a full frame tear out. This is where the old window and frame are completely removed and the new window is installed.


  1. This type if install ensures optimum energy efficiency and insulation around your windows and doors. Because the whole frame of the former window is removed, your window installation contractor will be starting with a fresh slate and can insulate around the window with current methods. Also, he can take a look at the state of the existing wall insulation and supplement as required.
  2. You’ll have as much viewable window surface area as you had before maybe even more depending on your choice of window frame.
  3. New window trim in modern styles is applied on the interior and exterior. Fresh weather-resistant caulking is applied t make sure there is no water entry.


  1. These windows are more expensive than retrofit windows because they take more time to tear out and install. Existing window coverings must be removed as interior and exterior trim is replaced.
  2. Installation will be a bit more disruptive as there will be more waste removal, it will take longer and there will be more of a mess to clean up by having to install window coverings and move furniture back in position.

Once you’ve decided that you need new windows, call us out to take a look. We’ll be happy to inspect your existing windows, sit down with your and discuss your options.

Touch to Call!