Insert Vs. Full Frame Window Replacement: Benefits & Costs

If the time has come to replace your windows and your head is spinning from all the options available – don’t panic – I’ve got you covered. Whether your windows are old and drafty, or you just want to give your home a fresh new look, there’s a perfect replacement window for you. But with so many options out there, I get it, it can be tough to know where to start. 

In this article, I’ll be diving headfirst into one of the bigger decisions you’ll face: insert vs. full-frame window replacement. I’ll be breaking down the benefits and costs of each option, so you can make an informed decision and feel confident in your choice. Let’s get into it!


Insert Vs Full Frame Window Replacements: The Basics

Here’s a quick overview of the two options you have when it comes to window replacements. 

  • Insert: Insert window replacement involves replacing just the window sashes and leaving the existing frame intact. This option is often less expensive and less disruptive to your home, but it may limit your customization options and could possibly result in air leaks.
  • Full-frame: Full-frame replacement involves removing the entire window, the frame included, and replacing it with a new one. This option typically provides better energy efficiency and improved aesthetics, but it can be more costly and require more work to install.


Insert Window Replacement: Pros and Cons

Insert window replacements are a popular option because it’s generally less expensive and less disruptive than full-frame replacements. Here are some additional pros (and cons for consideration too). 


  • Generally less expensive than a full-frame replacement
  • Can be completed quickly and with less disruption to your home
  • May not require interior or exterior trim replacement
  • Can be a good option for homes with historical or unique window frames



  • Limited customization options, as new sashes need to fit within the existing frame
  • Potential for air leaks around the existing frame, resulting in energy loss and higher bills
  • May not address underlying issues with the existing frame
  • May not provide the same level of energy efficiency as a full-frame replacement


Full-Frame Window Replacement: Pros and Cons

Full-frame window replacement involves the removal of the entire existing window, including the frame, and replacing it with a new window and frame. This can provide improved energy efficiency, better insulation, and improved aesthetics, but it also comes with a higher cost and more disruption to your home during installation.


  • Provides better insulation and improved energy efficiency
  • Offers greater customization options, including the ability to change the window size or style
  • Can address any underlying issues with the existing frame, such as rot or damage
  • Can improve the overall aesthetic of your home


  • Generally more expensive than insert replacement
  • Requires more work and can be more disruptive to your home during installation
  • May require interior or exterior trim replacement
  • Can be a challenging option for homes with historical or unique window frames that need to be preserved.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Insert and Full-Frame Replacement

The condition of your existing window frames: If your frames are in good condition, insert replacement may be a good option for you. However, if the frames are damaged or rotting, a full-frame replacement may be necessary to make sure your window is properly installed and with optimal energy efficiency.

Budget: Full-frame replacement is generally more expensive than insert replacement, so it’s important to consider your budget when making your decision. Keep in mind that the initial cost of full-frame replacement may be higher, but it can save you money in the long run by reducing energy bills.

Desired aesthetic: Full-frame replacement provides greater customization options and can completely change the look and feel of your home. If you’re looking to update the style of your windows or change the size or shape, full-frame replacement may be the best option.

Timeframe: Insert replacement can often be completed in just a few hours, while full-frame replacement may take several days. If you need a quick window replacement, insert replacement may be the ideal solution.


Cost Comparison: Insert vs. Full-Frame Replacement

The cost of replacement windows can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the size of the window, the type of window, and the specific installation requirements. It’s always a good idea to get several quotes from different window installers to compare costs and find the best option for your budget. 

Keep in mind that while insert replacement may be cheaper upfront, a full-frame replacement can offer long-term savings by improving energy efficiency and reducing energy bills.

Insert Replacement:

  • Material costs: Generally, insert replacement costs less than full-frame replacement because it involves fewer materials. Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $700 per window for materials.
  • Labor costs: The labor costs for insert replacement are typically lower because it is a less involved process. Labor costs can range from $150 to $350 per window.

Full-Frame Replacement:

  • Material costs: Full-frame replacement involves replacing the entire window frame, which requires more materials and can be more expensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1,000 per window. 
  • Labor costs: The labor costs for full-frame replacement are generally higher than insert replacement because it is a more involved process. Labor costs can range from $300 to $700 per window.


So, Which Should You Choose?

In short, if you’re looking for a more affordable option that requires less time and fewer complications, insert replacement might be the way to go. 

However, if you’re looking for greater customization options, improved energy efficiency, and the ability to address any underlying issues with your existing window frame, full-frame replacement is likely the better choice. 


Let WoW Take Care of The Hard Stuff For You 

Still not sure if you need an insert or full frame window replacement? Let WoW help you. Our experienced team of professionals can help you figure out your options and find the best solution for your specific needs and budget. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you improve the look and energy efficiency of your home with new windows.

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