Why you may not need replacement windows

So your windows are leaky, broken, or in some way inoperable and you're ready to replace them with some brand new vinyl replacement windows.

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But do you really need them?

In the window business, usually when we say "replacement window" we don't mean taking out every part of the existing window and putting in all new parts. The particular kind of replacement window you need will depend on which part of your current window isn't working. This is where a problem may come into play:

  1. If your window frame is still in good shape, your replacement window might be installed in it. With the old frame, the new frame, and the new window sash all taking up space, your visible glass space may be reduced.
  2. You may not be able to match the look of your current window with a replacement window. While some may have a stainable laminate or a wood grain laminate, unless the rest of your windows are also that same vinyl, the look of your home will be altered.

There is an alternative to a replacement window: sash replacement kits. They're not heavily advertised, but several manufacturers offer them, including Andersen, Kolbe and Kolbe, Jeld-Wen, and Ply-Gem. These kits include sashes (of course) along with vinyl jamb liners that contain balances and insulation. There are several advantages to them, some of which you can probably guess after reading the above:

  1. Sash replacement kits come in wood (as well as vinyl). If your current windows are wood, this means you've got a great chance of matching their exact look. (Bonus: If you want a vinyl sash, you'll never need to paint it.)
  2. They'll enable you to replace your single-glazed windows with double-glazed, energy saving low-e glass if you want to.
  3. You will not lose any visible glass. The view you have now will still be there once your new windows are in.
  4. The cost could be lower. Kit prices vary, but they can start as low as $130 at big-box retailers. Custom kits can reach $250 or more.
  5. Installation is easier and cleaner. Many of the wood parts won't need to be removed, which means you'll have less dust at the end of the process. You won't even need to caulk them.

Be aware that not all replacement window dealers will sell you a sash replacement kit. Generally speaking, these kits are not as good for business as window replacements, not only because they're cheaper but because they're often easy enough to install that a handy DIYer could tackle the project. Make sure you know exactly which part of your window isn't working or why you want to replace it - then explore whether this kit could solve your problem.

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