If you’re in the market for new windows, you may have already started shopping online or in a retail centre. If so, you’ve probably also noticed some big differences in pricing and features between replacement windows and new construction windows.
While it may seem like a simple task—measure a window opening, find a window to fit the space, and nail it in—choosing the right window for your application is anything but simple.
In addition to selecting the style of window, frame material, glass package, hardware, and grill type, you’ll need to understand the type of installation you need, what type of warranty is offered, and whether or not the window meets industry and efficiency standards.
Let’s clear up the confusion so you can make the best decision for your specific needs.
New Construction Windows
As the name implies, new construction windows are typically placed in a fresh opening when a new home is built or when a room addition to an existing home includes new windows.
In each case, the studs and framework of the window are exposed so the window can be installed with the use of a nail fin that frames new construction windows. Because the rough opening size is designated by the architect or contractor first, there can be more flexibility in design, size and shape of the window.
New construction windows can also be used in a replacement project but require more extensive work for installation. This “full-frame” installation involves removing all the exterior materials to expose the window framing. This process is more expensive than a “retrofit” installation as it is labour-intensive but is the right option if the existing window is damaged or rotting. A full-frame installation is a full tear-out and all window hardware, casings, jamb extensions, and brickmoulds are then replaced. This is the best way to determine if there is hidden moisture or damage inside the wall.
Replacement windows also identify their application as they “replace” an existing window. This option is less expensive as the exterior housing materials do not have to be removed. Measurements are taken to fit the actual window into existing frames. This retrofit installation is perfect when there is no damage to the frame or structure. This application is also used when you want to preserve the existing look of the house.
While a replacement window retrofit can save you thousands of dollars over a new construction full-frame installation, you must consider the possibility that there may be problems with rotting or moisture damage under the siding, making the retrofit replacement less effective and durable.
Things to Consider
All windows are not equal.
While the perception may be that replacement and new construction windows made by the same manufacturer are built to the same high-quality standards, this is not always the case. There are a few reputable window manufacturers that have begun selling low-quality, new construction windows to meet a lower price point.
These cheaper windows may appear to be the same high-quality construction as the replacement windows, but often contain thinner vinyl, inferior hardware, poor functionality and reliability, as well as a less-comprehensive warranty.
Here are some key features to look for:
- Certification for energy performance by an accredited agency. Windows with certification meet Canadian building code standards for minimum air leakage, water tightness, and structural strength.
- CSA International (CSA)
- Intertek Testing Services (ITS)
- Quality Auditing Institute Ltd. (QAI)
- The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) – U.S.-based nonprofit
- Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) – for insulated glass units
- U-factor – the rate of heat transfer from warm to cold areas. The lower the number, the more efficient.
- Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) – how much heat can pass through the product from sunlight. The higher the number, the more solar heat it gains.
- Energy Rating (ER) – factors the U-factor, SHG, and air leakage. A high number indicates a more efficient window.
- R-value – resistance to heat transfer. A high number indicates a more efficient window.
- Visible transmittance (VT) – how much light can pass through. A high number means more light can pass through.
- Center-of-glass rating – energy efficiency of only the glass.
Also, look for these high-quality features:
- Stainless steel lock components that fit together and operate smoothly.
- Colour matching of all components.
- Heat-welded joints instead of mechanically fastened.
You can trust Stage Windows to meet the high standards of replacement windows as each window is made to order to fit your specifications. In addition to a variety of stylish, comfortable, and long-lasting products, Stage provides a limited lifetime warranty for years of protection.
Features Included With Both Types of Windows
Among the top 5 reno projects that provide a significant return on investment, replacement windows rank among the top 5 in the Appraisal Institute of Canada’s 2018 report with 73.3-percent.
In addition to improving curb appeal and the overall look of your property, new or replacement windows provide a big impact on the aesthetics of the property.
Both new and replacement windows offer air-tight seals that will eliminate drafts, especially during the winter and summer months. No more need to sit away from the window or cover it with heavy draperies to stay comfortable all year long.
Older windows require all sorts of repairs and maintenance work. Installing new windows will save you time and money. No more sanding, scraping, painting or caulking with maintenance-free vinyl, aluminum, or fibreglass windows.
Save on energy costs with your new or replacement windows by including energy-efficient Low-E glass or Argon gas. You’ll improve the heat gain/loss so your air conditioner and furnace will run less often and save you money. You might also consider double- or triple-pane windows for the ultimate efficiency.
Most window styles are available for both new construction and replacement windows. Choose a sliding window over the sink for easy operation in difficult-to-reach areas. Awning windows are perfect for access above a sink or counter and can provide ventilation even when it rains. Try a double-hung window with tilt-in sashes for easy cleaning.
Safety and security are maintained with both home designs with awning or casement windows that are hard to pry open. Keep your family safe from harm by including a larger egress window in case of fire or another emergency.
The differences and similarities between replacement windows and new construction windows are often difficult to distinguish. New construction windows are usually inferior to the dominant replacement window market.
Some manufacturers have established lower standard features for their new construction line to compete with lower-priced options. Make sure to follow the guidelines in this article to obtain the maximum value and efficiencies possible.
If you’re planning a renovation project that includes new or replacement windows, contact a Stage Windows professional to help you select the best products for your needs.