Each homeowner at one point has to try and decide if it’s worth the cost of replacing their windows. They usually will get a few quotes from window companies and then find out that it can be really expensive.
So why is window replacement so expensive?
Well, the short answer is that windows are a very custom element to the house and labor intensive
- Each home has different custom sized windows and styles, which means higher manufacturing costs
- Due to the customization, there is a lot of responsibility for the window replacement contractor when ordering
- If the windows are mismeasured or ordered incorrectly, then they cannot be fitted to your home and will need to be reordered.
- A limited amount of window installers – a record low in all of the United States
- There is a large scope of work involved in each project
The large scope of work for window replacement includes the following:
- Measuring the windows with a reputable carpenter
- Ordering the windows correctly
- Scheduling the installation date correctly – weather delays may occur
- Picking up the windows from storage or factory and delivering it to the job site
- Unboxing the windows from packaging
- Setting up drop cloths/floor coverings for protection and cleanliness
- Removing the old windows from the existing openings
- Replacing rotted framing if present
- Installing the new windows – leveling, squaring, etc to make sure they operate without problems
- Installing interior trim if required
- Insulating the exterior gap with expanding foam
- Capping the exterior with aluminum trim coil
- Caulking the exterior and interior to weatherproof
- Cleanup of the job site
- Disposal of the old windows
What Is the Cost of Window Replacement?
According to 2018 data from Home Advisor, the average price for a double hung vinyl replacement window starts at $500. This is per window, by the way. That $500 quote is just the national average and by no means the norm. If you were to buy replacement windows from a more expensive brand like Marvin, the price would be higher.
Not only does manufacturer matter, then, but so too does the type of window you buy. Single-hung windows with their simplistic design are among the cheapest types. You may pay less than $500 for each window depending on the manufacturer.
Casement windows, on the other hand, are closer to $600 each.
If you wanted sliding windows, the price can be around $550 each.
Those numbers probably have you asking one question: why is window replacement so expensive? In this article, we’ll outline several other factors besides manufacturer and window type that drive up the price.
Perhaps it was because you’ve finally grown tired of paying too much for your monthly energy bills. Maybe it was an aesthetics thing, as the look of your windows no longer appealed to you.
Either way, you did some preliminary research on the cost of window replacement and had to pick your jaw up off the floor.
Does Window Style Affect the Price of Home Windows?
When your home was built, the windows were made to be complimentary. The architect in charge of the project envisioned those windows a certain way. They had to be a specific size to fit in various rooms and let the right amount of light in.
For some homes, this may mean you wound up with a simpler window design. If so, then replacement is often a less time-consuming and thus less expensive process.
If you have customized windows or architectural windows, though, then you’re out of luck. Half-rounded windows may look gorgeous, but they’re not cheap to make at all.
They have complicated trim and a detailed look that will cost you extra when you go to get your windows replaced.
Simply put, the more complex the design, the more you’ll pay for a window replacement.
Do You Need to Replace Window Framing if its Rotted?
How old is your house? Many homes are decades old, sometimes even hundreds of years.
If you’ve had the same windows since you’ve moved in, then you might run into a slew of issues once window replacement begins. These issues will, unfortunately, bleed your wallet more than anticipated.
Older windows tend to need a lot of TLC. That’s due in part to the framing, which will settle over the years.
What happens when the frame settles?
You’re more likely to have crooked window openings. To avoid future crooked windows, the team installing the new windows will have to put more time into leveling the opening.
Not only that but if your framing has by chance rotted, then even further work has to be done.
The rotten framing will not hold a screw and is not foundationally secure. The window replacement crew will have to replace the rotted wood. This drives up the price of your window replacement project as well, usually about $50 extra per opening.
What is the Scope of Work for Window Replacement?
Even if you don’t need window reframing, getting your windows replaced is a precise, time-consuming job. Everything has to be done accurately to ensure you have high-quality windows that will last you for years.
Here are the duties and responsibilities a company must undertake when doing a window replacement project.
Coordinating the Project
Before installation can begin, the window replacement company must have the windows ready to go. They’ll coordinate the delivery date of the windows and gather an installation crew at that time.
Preparing the Space
When the new windows arrive in town, your window replacement company will schedule to arrive at your home. Then, they will prep the space for the work to be done. This often involves laying down layers of thick plastic or drop cloths to minimize messes.
Depending on how high up the new windows will go, the crew may also require ladders for removal and/or installation.
Removing the Old Windows
As we explained above, there’s a lot that can go into removing old windows.
It all depends on your home, the window design, the age of the windows, and their condition. At the very least, the windows will come right out.
At worst, they could be caulked shut. If that’s the case, then chipping away at the caulk to take the windows out could take hours. This prolongs the length of the project, which often means you have to spend more money.
In addition to the windows, the crew will also have to remove any treatments or blinds that were on the windows. While this isn’t a huge hassle, it is a part of a crew’s job that’s worth mentioning.
This is the time when the window framing will be addressed. If these are in poor condition, such as having rotted, then they’ll need to be replaced. This is again another lengthy job that boosts your project bill.
If your home was built in 1995 or later, then chances are that it has window flanges, also known as a nailing flange. What is a window flange?
Well simply put, a window flange is a channel on the perimeter of a new construction window. Its purpose is to be nailed to the framing of the house before the exterior is finished. If you plan on finishing your house with siding, then you can order a j-channel flange to secure the siding to the window.
Taking off the window flanges is no easy feat. The crew will need a Sawzall to separate the flanges from the window framing. This too will make your window replacement project costlier and a little bit messy.
Installing the New Windows
With the old windows out, it’s time to put the replacement ones in.
Before this can happen, the crew will inspect the construction and operation of the new windows. They should be of the high quality you paid for.
They should also work well. During this inspection, the crew also ensures the windows are square, level, and plumb.
Next, the window is insulated via insulation foam. This gives the window noise-canceling properties (to a degree) and makes it more energy-efficient.
After that, the crew will set up the interior trim of the window, caulking it in place. They may add capping, which is custom bending aluminum trim, if the exterior framing of the old window is unappealing. This is a tough job, especially because the crew must size the aluminum trim precisely using shears.
They’ll also have to attach the new trim with nails. As you know, time is money, so expect to pay more.
The above steps apply for most insert windows only. Full-frame replacements will take double, sometimes triple the time and work. You’ll probably pay twice or thrice the price you would for insert windows, then.
Although plastic or a tarp were laid down to prevent messes, they do happen. Debris from old nails, wood, and metal scraps may accumulate.
Once the installation is completed, the crew will clean up this debris, moving it to their truck. They’ll also move the old windows to their truck. This mess is responsibly disposed of offsite.
The Job Needs to be Done Right the First Time
Although many window companies offer warranties on their products, there’s an expectation that the job will be done right the first time. After all, these companies have a reputation to live up to, and that often means providing superior quality and craftsmanship.
Pleasing you, the customer means you might come back to that window company the next time you need home improvement. These companies then want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Another reason to take the time to make sure the job is done right comes back to the crew themselves.
If the windows are slightly askew or otherwise not installed properly, it’s more time and work for them. They have to come back, assess the situation, and rip out the windows they just painstakingly installed.
They then must remeasure and triple-check that the new windows are good to go, reinstalling them. If your warranty covers this service, then it could be money the company and crew personally lose out on.
You know the saying that you get what you pay for. With windows, this is especially true. More ornate, complicated window designs cost a pretty penny compared to simple, single-hung windows, or double hung windows.
The money you put into your window replacement project ensures several things.
First, you get a dedicated, knowledgeable crew that knows what they’re doing.
Second, any old windows and framing will be removed if need be. This includes rotted framing, a common occurrence with older windows.
Third, you know the team will take their time to install the new windows the right way the first time, measuring and checking them.
The windows will be insulated, caulked securely, and ready to use.
By being able to anticipate the costs associated with window replacement, you can set aside the funds to pay for a quality home improvement project.