To Replace or Repair Your Windows


How do you know whether to repair or replace a particular window?  This is a question not all window companies will offer a straight answer on. The fact is, ripping out and replacing a window is often faster and more profitable for a company than other options, yet can have serious implications if the decision is undertaken lightly or the work performed poorly.

Whether your windows are candidates for repair or replacement depend on a variety of factors, including overall condition of the units (is there any rot, separation of components, etc.), performance, operation, and function.  Contrary to some beliefs, age does not typically enter into the equation.

The choice between restoring/repairing your existing windows vs. replacing them is often a daunting one and it’s generally best to enlist a qualified professional to do a thorough evaluation of the units.  This is because the professional will be able to offer insight and advice to guide you towards an informed decision.  In a perfect world, restoring or repairing windows is often the best approach from an environmental perspective, yet not all windows can be saved.

It goes without saying that if the window(s) is in a vintage building of historical significance, there may be a keen desire (or even local requirement) to maintain the building’s original appearance. Another consideration is that the existing windows in vintage buildings are often of better quality than many of the replacement options available today. This is largely due to the old growth lumber used in their construction, a commodity not readily available anymore.

In addition, many older windows (pre-World War II, generally) can often be brought up to modern efficiency standards through a combination of window restoration & the use of either a good quality aluminum storm window or one of our custom fabricated storm panels.
Often confused with storm windows, an energy panel is technically a glazing option. It is a removable, exterior glass panel finished on the edges by a surround. Energy panels cover the exposed glass surface of each sash, and offer added energy efficiency for wood windows with single glazing.
If you do need replacement units, they will fall into 1 of 2 categories. The first is an insert replacement unit.
An excellent way to get all the features of a brand new window without disrupting existing trim & siding is to use an insert window. Insert windows fit within existing frames, replacing the old sash and balance systems. The beauty of these units is that they’re custom made specifically for each opening and can be installed quickly.
Sometimes referred to as “pocket windows”, these units fit within the frame and surrounding trim of existing windows. Installation is usually very fast – often a couple hours or less per opening. These windows can usually be effectively installed in openings that are watertight and show no signs of decay. We will not install inserts in openings where rot, decay, or signs of water migration into the building is present. These types of problematic openings require that the defects be corrected, lest they lead to decay of the building structure itself.
The final option is a full frame replacement,
As the term implies, a full frame replacement consists of replacing all the components of a window, from trim to operational elements. Full frame replacements are an option when a particular unit has deteriorated to such a point it cannot be salvaged, when the desire to change from one type of unit to another exists (going from a sliding unit to a double hung, for example), when changing the size of a particular opening, and of course in new construction applications.
where the entire unit – including all interior & exterior trim –  is typically removed and replaced. This is generally the most invasive and expensive of the 3 options and one we advise reserving for cases where the existing window is severely damaged or when there’s a desire on a client’s part to change the type or style of window. By removing damaged windows, access is gained to the framing and surrounding areas. This permits the installation of important moisture management details such as sill pans and flashings. Great care is taken to weather-proof these openings, as any water that may make its way past the window itself must be directed outside, rather than finding a path into the building. After the opening is prepared, a full frame new construction unit is installed and new interior & exterior trim is applied. This is also an opportunity to upgrade the surrounding trim from something that may have been average to something extraordinary.

So which of the 3 options is best for you?  We’ll help you evaluate that question and formulate a plan to effectively deal with the specific issues you’re facing.


  1. Silas Knight says:

    We have lived in our home for a long time, and it is time for some renovations. We have been looking at doing something with our windows, but like you said, choosing between restoring and or replacing is a hard decision. I think we’ll do what you said and call a professional to help us decide.

  2. Megan Earl says:

    I’ve been in my house for about 5 years now and I’ve never changed the windows. The house is really old, though, so I should probably think about doing it soon. I didn’t know that old windows could often be brought up to modern efficiency standards. That’s definitely something I’ll have to consider. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Kenneth Gladman says:

    It is nice to know that most older windows can be updated to meet modern efficiency standards. We have a classic home and I really love the windows, they just need to be more efficient. They have been leaking more and more lately.

  4. John Mahoney says:

    Thank you for talking about the importance of having a professional help you decide if you need to replace or repair your windows. It makes sense that doing this would help you find the best way to save money and time. I would want to make sure I do my homework and choose a company that gets good reviews from previous customers and that care about delivering the best they can.

  5. This is really the debate when it comes to window repair/window replacement. Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I’ve been doing window repair for years, since I was a kid when my father first started his window repair company and I see this come up all the time. I always try to provide people with the most accurate information so they can decide for themselves what’s going to be the best route. Your writing this article is very helpful for many I’m sure. Keep it coming!

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