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Replacement Window Costs

Replacing windows is something that every homeowner needs to do, but the pricing can be a confusing matter. Ultimately, the price of a replacement window will depend heavily on the type of window material being used, the quality of the glass, the size of the window and whether the window is available in stores or customized to a specific shape. Use this cost guide to learn the pros and cons of replacing windows, what materials are commonly used for replacement windows, what to know about installation and the various factors that can affect pricing for replacement windows.

The Costs

  • Average Minimum Cost of Replacement Windows: $150 per window

  • Average Maximum Cost of Replacement Windows: $2,500 per window

When to Purchase and Install Replacement Windows

Many homeowners simply aren't sure when it is necessary to replace windows in the home. Well-made windows can last decades in some cases, and it may not be immediately clear whether windows should be repaired, replaced or simply left alone. Some of the signs that windows need to be replaced entirely include the following:

  • Drafts inside the home

  • Clear cracks or gouges in the glass

  • Long-term mildew or damage around the frame of the window

  • Rotten window sills

  • Windows that are hard to open or close

  • Visible condensation in double- and triple-paned windows

Advantages of Replacing Windows in the Home

Once the problem window or windows have been identified, then homeowners will need to determine what needs to be replaced. It could be the glass itself, the entire window frame or just the sash. While replacement windows are a substantial expense, especially when the entire home needs to be updated, the benefits are many. Major advantages include lower energy bills and greater insulation within the home, an increase in the curb appeal of the home and less condensation between old glass panes.

Disadvantages of Replacing Windows in the Home

While the advantages of replacement windows may seem obvious, replacement may not always be the right answer. In some cases, simple repair might be a better fix, especially for homeowners on a limited budget. Drawbacks of replacement windows include the time it takes to install new windows, the cost of the project and the challenge of finding windows that match the style and design of the home. Installing replacement windows is often a professional job, which means that homeowners have to set time aside to be available and pay for the service. The cost of some replacement windows is also significant, and it should be carefully considered before the purchase is made. Finally, unusual, unique or older windows can be hard to find in matching styles, and hunting down the right versions can be time-consuming and costly.

Materials for Replacement Windows

Replacement windows are certainly not all the same, and the biggest difference between them all is the material. The window frames can be made from vinyl, aluminum, wood or fiberglass, and each is a little different in terms of look, style, price and durability. Wood replacement windows are aesthetically appealing, great insulators, warm and versatile. However, wood can also be difficult to maintain and one of the more expensive materials for replacement windows. Fiberglass windows are a relatively new product, but the result is a rigid, attractive and durable material. Fiberglass replacement windows are typically closest in price to wood, but prices may drop as the material becomes more widely used. Aluminum replacement windows are best when homeowners are looking for something durable, lightweight and affordable. The downside of aluminum replacement windows is that they can look unattractive if not painted, and they may not be good insulators in particularly warm or cold climates. Vinyl, or PVC, replacement windows are durable, relatively affordable, available in many colors and the ideal choice for custom-made windows in uncommon designs or sizes.

Style and Design of Replacement Windows

Along with varying materials, replacement windows can come in many different styles, shapes and designs. Just a few of the most common varieties include the following replacement windows:

  • Picture Windows: Fixed windows that let in light but do not open at all

  • Casement Windows: Swing outward with side hinges, good for ventilation

  • Single-Hung Windows: Vertical sliding window where only the bottom pane can be opened

  • Double-Hung Windows: Vertical sliding window where either pane can be opened

  • Bay Windows: Outwardly projecting window with three angled panels

  • Bow Windows: Same as bay window, but with more panels and a more rounded curvature

Choosing and Pricing Glass for Replacement Windows

Clearly, there is a large variety of replacement windows on the market, and it is up to each homeowner to determine what material and design will match up with the existing window. In most cases, the simplest course of action is simply to find the closest match to whatever window already exists. This ensures a snug fit, and it works well when homeowners have been happy with their window selection so far. However, in some cases it might be a good idea to pick a new material. If wooden frames rot easily in a humid climate, for example, switching to fiberglass could be suitable. If existing fiberglass windows are beyond the budget, replacement windows made from vinyl could be a better option. In some cases, custom windows that need to be replaced will have to be specially measured and ordered. This may be expensive, but it is the only way to replicate the existing look without doing significant work to the structure of the home itself.

What to Know About Replacement Window Installation

Before replacing windows in their home, individuals should determine whether the project will be worthwhile financially. Unfortunately, replacement windows may not pay for themselves for several years, so it may only be a smart investment if the homeowner plans to keep the house for a decade or longer. If professional installation is required, which is typical for this kind of project, prepare to be on hand throughout and have a clear space for an installation team to work both inside and outside of the home.

Last updated on Apr 22, 2014

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