Retrofit Windows vs New Construction Windows

In a retrofit window installation (sometimes called “replacement windows”), you replace the window, but not your home’s framing, while both are replaced with new construction windows. While occasionally homeowners will update the window trim with exterior material or new treatments, the frame remains intact within the wall with a retrofit window. The new windows are installed into the existing space, avoiding modification or damage to the exterior and/or interior of your home, the need for extensive renovation surrounding the window, and reducing costs to the homeowner.

Obviously, this makes for a process which can be done for considerably with less disruption to your home, and at a lower cost. However, your results do depend on having a healthy window frame to work with. If the frame is poorly set in the wall, not flush, or needs extensive repairs, it may make more sense to replace it with a new construction window.

But if they work for you, retrofit window are an excellent and cost effective choice where homeowners do not need to remove or alter window frames.

retrofit windows

What are new construction windows?

So what are “new construction windows”? New construction literally means an all new window and frame. It’s a full replacement window installed in place of the existing window, with frame modification as needed. There can certainly be good reasons to opt for new construction windows. Perhaps you want to add a double pane window to make your home more energy efficient, or perhaps you want to increase the size of a window. Or you may want to change out the materials, wood, or trim used in the initial installation, or change the shape of the window frame. Whatever the reason, sometimes new construction windows fit the bill.

However, keep in mind that new construction windows are the most expensive and labor-intensive type of window replacement. Even the existing frames of your windows will be pulled out. Construction may impact your siding and walls, too, and if you have stone, brick, or stucco walls new constructions windows can mean a difficult (and expensive) project.

Would retrofit windows be a good option for me?

Very likely, yes. A retrofit window offers the option to install energy efficient windows, address broken glass, or otherwise update old windows without the considerable intrusion of a new construction window. However, it truly does depend on whether the contractor can install the replacement windows into an existing frame that is in good condition. If you have mold, rot, rain-, storm- or quake-damage, or warping in your existing frame, you may need to opt for a new construction window that will leave you with flush, airtight windows you can be proud of. A pre-inspection by Roxy Glass can help you decide which is best for you.

How will a retrofit window help me?

Retrofit windows are easy to install, cost substantially less, and are a great way to save money while increasing the quality of your windows and updating their appearance. If you live in an older house, it will also be a key way to retain sales-appeal through updating the exterior look of your home as well as introducing the energy saving double pane glass to increase the value of your home, which many buyers have come to expect. Do remember, however, that you will not be able make major changes to the way your windows look – retrofit windows must fit into the frame of the window you already have installed.

For many of us, this is a small inconvenience compared to the avoidance of substantial damage to the exterior and/or interior of your home, with the higher costs that entails. While you don’t change the overall look of the windows in your home as substantially as with new construction when you retrofit, it’s a fantastic way to update your home’s windows, cut energy costs, and create a beautiful facelift to update your home without the risk of spoiling your home’s existing character.

What are the different types of retrofit windows?

Flush Fin (sometimes called Z-bar): This type of retrofit window is often used where aluminum windows are installed through masonry or stucco. This type includes a large flange on the outside that is designed to cover the existing window frame.

Block Frame: With this type of retrofit window the existing window frame is used, but it must be in good condition. This type of window is often used where the windows are installed through wooden window frames with either brick or vinyl siding.

What types of retrofit windows are there?

There are several types of replacement windows you can consider for a retrofit. Flush fin windows are typically used where you have stucco walls or aluminum frames. It sits flush with the frame. Block frame styles are used in brick or siding homes with wooden frames. Whichever window style would work best for your home, Roxy Glass can discuss options and help you decide.

The many benefits of window replacement

So retrofit windows are some of the easiest and most cost-effective replacement windows to install. Why do people want their windows replaced, anyway? We’ve already looked at some of the advantages of installing replacement windows, but let’s recap:

  • You can switch to double pane windows (or triple pane windows) for greater energy savings and lower utility costs
  • Update the look of your home, enhancing sales value and curb appeal
  • Repair your windows for a better overall appearance
  • Replace multiple broken windows at one time (especially after storm damage)
  • No permit requirements or red tape
  • Save money during home improvement

Call today for answers to any questions, or for a no obligation retrofit window quote

Roxy Glass has been serving San Francisco Bay Area homeowners for over 30 years with all window types and needs, great prices and impeccable service.

Interested in replacing some or all of your home’s windows? Roxy Glass can help you find the perfect solution for your windows, at the lowest prices available in the Bay Area. Whether that means retrofit windows or new construction windows, our professional service team will show you the Roxy Glass difference. Call us today for a free, no obligation quote.


A retrofit window replaces the interior portion of the window without removing the window frame or trim. Retrofit windows are made to fit snugly into the existing frame and trim. Professional installers can complete a retrofit replacement on a home in a few hours, for a lower cost, and with less disruption to your home and family.

Retrofit windows are cheaper and quicker to install than window replacements. This is because there is no major construction work. The original window frames and trim remain in place and the new retrofit windows fit into the frames.

Retrofit windows are not an option when the window frames are damaged. In this case, you must go with a full window replacement.

Retrofit windows should improve your energy usage. They fit snugly into the existing frame to prevent heat loss and drafts. You can replace single-pane glass with a double-pane alternative and low-e glass to better insulate your home from outdoor temperatures.

Most window styles, including single-hung, double-hung, casement, and sliding windows, can be retrofitted if the frames are in good condition.

While some handy DIYers might tackle retrofit window installation, you should hire a professional for proper fit and performance.

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