New Construction Windows Vs. Replacement Windows

Apr 04, 2017
Pictured here is a new construction window with its exterior nailing flange.

Many people don’t know the difference between new construction windows and replacement windows. And many don’t realize there are 3 types of installation methods — new construction, full frame replacement and pocket replacement.

Let’s start with the windows themselves and then we’ll dive into the installation methods below.

The major difference between a new construction window and a replacement window is that a new construction window is designed to be secured from the outside through a flange while a block frame replacement window is secured into the existing opening with screws through the side frames.

New Construction Window Installation

New construction windows have an exterior flange and are designed to be secured into the house’s sheathing before the siding, brick, stone or stucco is installed. After the windows are installed, the exterior products are finished right up to the window.

You’ll quickly find that the new construction installation is the most expensive option. For this method, you have to cut back the siding that’s around the window in order to install the new flange. The flange is designed to go underneath your siding and because of this, it’s a lot more labor intensive — hence the higher price tag — but it’s a better seal for drafts and water.

In a lot of cases if you have brick, stucco or any masonry area, you’ll likely have to hire a mason, and that can become very costly.

“But if you have a window company who knows how to put in a block replacement, they can do it just as efficiently,” said The Men With Tools Owner John Kolbaska.

Full Frame Replacement Window Installation

After the old windows, moldings and jambs have been removed.

The most popular option is the full frame installation. This occurs, for example, inside a sheet rock opening when removing the existing new construction window. By taking out the existing new construction window, the old moldings and jambs are also removed and the contractor needs to rebuild a new jamb/frame and exterior stop. After the frames are built and the windows are installed, shimmed, squared and leveled, spray foam insulation should be applied, new interior jambs go in, and a new molding package is built in the interior.

On the exterior side, new stops and brick mould are installed before the aluminum capping and silicon sealant are applied. As you can see, when comparing this installation method to the new construction method above, there really isn’t much of a difference. Slightly less material and labor are used making the installation more cost efficient.

About 70 percent of homes on Staten Island need the full frame installation method and this is why the $189 window companies quote you a much higher price than originally advertised.

Pocket Replacement Window Installation

Pocket replacement windows are typically seen in homes that are 80 years or older. They have the old wood sashes with weights inside the frames. The wood frames and existing moldings, are left in place.

You start with taking off the interior stops and parting strips leaving the exterior stops in place. The next step is to apply silicon to the exterior stop before setting the window in the pocket. After the window is set, shimmed, squared and leveled inside the pocket, foam insulation should be applied. It’s important to note that companies that sell $189 windows will install it as we described above without applying any insulation. This is how they charge these ridiculously low prices. With that said, there are still other steps to professionally install a pocket window.

This includes caulking the interior of the window, installing the new interior stop moldings, and sealing the exterior with a high-quality silicon after the aluminum capping has been installed. This is generally the most inexpensive installation option because the old window pocket has been repurposed. The problem is, not everyone’s home qualifies. It’s only about 30 percent in the Staten Island market as most were built in the 1960s, 1970s or later.

“In the older areas of Staten Island on the North Shore — Mariners Harbor, Port Richmond, West Brighton, St. George, Stapleton and even some pockets on the South Shore in Tottenville, houses built before or around the World War II era — those are the houses with the old wood windows,” John said. “If you have the old wood windows, you more than likely qualify for a pocket installation.”

So to Recap …

New construction windows: Have a flange on the outside; are secured from the outside exterior sheathing of the house.

New construction installation: Most expensive option; more labor intensive, more materials used.

Replacement windows: Are a block frame; there is no flange and are secured into the existing opening with screws through the side jambs into the framing of the house.

Full frame replacement installation: Second most expensive option; old moldings and jambs are removed in process; 70% of homes on Staten Island need this replacement method.

Pocket replacement installation: Least expensive option; frames and moldings are left intact; only 30% of Staten Island homes qualify.

A professional window contractor will let you know which type of window and installation method is best for your home, and that all comes down to experience.

Are you in the market for replacement windows? Check out The Men With Tools on Staten Island, NY who won’t caulk and walk and will give you a fair price. Call us today at 347-815-4151 for a free estimate.

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