Replacing double hung windows?
You have 3 types of installation options:
1. Pocket replacement
By removing the existing sashes and jamb liners, a new window is set inside the existing frame. This is primarily how vinyl windows are done.
2. Sash replacement
Same as above but no new frame installed. Only the sashes and liners are replaced.
3. Full Frame replacement
The entire window is replaced – sash, frame and trim.
Which is best for your home?
In North Carolina we live in a severe weathering zone. Rotten wood can be hiding under trim and window sills!
Are your windows out of square? Look for unequal reveals, bows and gaps along edges where sashes meet frame. Chances are it was not shimmed. Shimming ensures that the frame of the window stays secure in the opening. Without shims, your windows are free to move around.
Is there old or no insulation between existing window frame and wall studs (called rough opening)?
Pocket replacements-vinyl replacement, i.e.; Pella Precision Fit and Andersen Renewal OR sash kits (just sash and liners replaced) do NOT address any of the problems listed above. In fact, it can cause more problems in the future since capping of existing trim with aluminum coil stock, can trap moisture in the trim, which accelerates the rotting.
Many pocket replacement advocates will tell you that Full Frame replacement will damage your siding and interior. This is simply NOT true. They may also tell you it’s more expensive when in fact its extremely competitive with mid to high-end windows.
Why are so many companies promoting pocket replacement? Profit and ease of installation = quick money. Many companies hire professional salesmen who are very effective in their presentations.
Few have any actual construction experience and quotas motivate most. Why leave any part of an inferior window in place? With full frame replacement you remove entire window, frame and trim. This is the only way to correct hidden issues.
The advantages of full frame replacement over pocket replacement include:
- Discover & Repair water and insect damage.
- You will be able to install new frame constructed out of low maintenance material, i.e. vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, and NOT just cover existing (i.e. capping).
- Add flashing to sill and provide a real drip cap.
- Caulk directly to siding or masonry.
- Square new installation, use shims.
- Use foam to insulate around rough opening.
- You will get all new window sills and trim cut with precision (you could even upgrade or change your style)
- Allows more flexibility with design. Change to casements, transoms, etc.
- Full frame replacement does not reduce your glass area as does pocket replacement.
- Quality is higher with full frame window brands. These are also called new construction windows. All can be custom made.
In general, the warranty for doing a pocket replacement will not apply to your existing frame. Looking at long term costs you could spend considerably more with pocket replacements. With full frame replacement you will be saving more energy & landfill space.
Pocket replacements, sash replacements are quick fixes. Making repairs to existing windows and replacing sills, etc, in my opinion, only delays the inevitable and is not the best investment for your money.
Regardless of who you hire for your window project I hope that you please consider full frame replacement!