top 3 considerations for full frame vs insert window replacement

When getting quotes for new replacement windows, you’ll hear contractors talk about full frame windows, insert windows or even pocket windows.  And your left thinking heck, what is a pocket window and which type of window do I need?  We’ve quickly broken down the differences and top considerations in making your decision.

For starters a pocket window is an insert window, so you have two options.

Insert Replacement Windows: This installation type involves putting a replacement window in existing frame and removing only the sash. The existing frame, trim and surround materials are not touched.

Full Frame Replacement Windows: This installation type involves entire window frame replacement, sash, and trim or casing with a new Beechworth full-frame window.

So how should you know if window inserts or full replacement is right for you? Well, it boils down to cost, and expectations on energy efficiency and appearance.


1) Window Replacement Cost

Replacing your windows is large financial investment. Cost can be a large factor in determining whether to select full frame vs insert window replacement. The insert or pocket window replacement cost will likely save you money on your project. Here’s why:

  1. Materials – Insert windows fit in the existing frame and will have minimal effect on the interior and exterior of your home. Full frame replacement windows is a full tear out, removing the frame, trim and casing which may be costly if needed to be replaced.
  2. Labor- Insert window installation takes significantly less time when compared to the time necessary to demolish and rebuild the window opening in a full frame replacement. “The process is much less involved, is less time-consuming, and requires less skill than a full frame replacement…”— Jim Snyder, Window Expert

You might be quick to want to choose insert window replacement as it is quicker, cheaper and less complex than a full frame replacement windows, but you may not have a choice. If your home has rot and deterioration of the jambs and sills, a full tear out and full frame window replacement is necessary. Always insist that your contractor checks, because unknowingly installing even the best pocket window replacement on a home with rot or mold will surely cause problems in the near future.

Full frame window replacement cost will always be a bit higher, but it can be the best quality install as know surrounding components in good shape and not damaged or rotting.


2) overall Energy Efficiency

Let’s compare pocket window replacement vs full frame in terms of energy efficiency. It is likely that you are replacing your windows because your old ones are drafty and inefficient. While pocket windows will improve the energy efficiency of your home, full-frame installation will provide the maximum amount of energy efficiency. Remember full frame replacement windows involves a full tear out, and provides opportunity for insulation to be placed in older homes and the maximum amount of capping and sealing.

“Although [Full Frame Replacement] may seem like the most invasive method, with proper installation you will get the best performance…” — Rob Fanjoy, HGTV


3)  Appearance of new windows

More than anything else, you and your family will notice the appearance of your replacement windows. Insert windows allow you to keep any beautiful or historic trim, while full frame windows give you more visible glass area and new trim.

Many gorgeous homes include original, priceless trim pieces that give your home the character you fell in love with. Insert windows allow you to keep that trim intact. In contrast, your trim may have rotted, damaged or outdated. Full frame window installation will give your home the fresh new look it needs.

Breathe easy! Now that you know the trade-offs between full frame vs insert window replacement you can rest assured knowing that you have the best window installation for your home.

If you need help in deciding between full frame vs insert window replacement, send us a message or if you haven’t received an obligation free estimate, we would love to help you out.