Retrofit Window Replacement vs. New Construction: Which Option is Right for You?

Posted on August 19, 2023

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Retrofit Window Replacement vs. New Construction: Which Option is Right for You?

When it comes to home renovation projects like window replacement or repair, the biggest consideration on a homeowner’s mind is the budget. No one wants to overspend, especially when there is a less expensive, but similarly valued, option available. If you want to know the difference between retrofit and replacement windows, and whether you can save some money on your home renovation project, you’re in the right place. 

This blog post will discuss retrofit vs. new construction windows to help you understand everything you need to know before making the final decision. 

Understanding Retrofit Windows

Retrofit windows, also known as replacement windows, are designed to fit into existing window openings without needing any changes to the window frame and the surrounding structure. These windows are installed if the existing frames are still in good condition and only the glass needs to be replaced. Retrofit windows can be ordered in various sizes and styles to match the current openings perfectly.

Exploring New Construction Windows

As their name suggests, new construction windows are specifically designed for a new home construction or a significant renovation. These windows come with a nailing fin or attachment flange around the perimeter, which allows them to be securely attached to the house’s wooden frame. In addition, new construction windows require the removal of the existing wall materials to install them properly.

Advantages of Retrofit Windows

Retrofit Windows


One of the major advantages of retrofit windows is their affordability. Since retrofit windows utilize your existing window frames, the removal and replacement process is less labour-intensive, resulting in lower installation costs.

Minimal Damage

Retrofit window installation is less invasive compared to new construction windows. The existing walls, interior, and exterior trim remain intact, minimizing any potential damage to your home’s structure.

Ease of Installation

Retrofit windows are relatively easy to install, making them a viable option for DIY enthusiasts and professional installers. The process is straightforward and requires fewer steps than installing new construction windows.

Energy Efficiency

Retrofit windows can significantly improve your home’s energy efficiency. Upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient window models can reduce heat loss, enhance insulation, and lower energy consumption.

Casement and double-hung windows are popular in most homes and offices. If you are interested in installing retrofit windows, check out our comprehensive blog post: Can You Replace Double-Hung Windows With Casement Windows?  

Disadvantages of Retrofit Windows

Design Limitations

Retrofit windows must fit within the existing window openings. If you desire a significant alteration to your windows, such as enlarging or reshaping them, new construction windows may be a better choice.

Potential for Poor Fit

Retrofit windows rely on the existing window frames, which may not always be perfectly square or level. This can result in a less precise fit and potential air leakage if proper sealing measures are not taken.

Limited Customization

Retrofit windows may not offer the same level of customization as new construction windows. New construction windows may better accommodate your needs if you have specific design preferences or require unique window sizes or styles.

Advantages of New Construction Windows

New Construction Windows

Flexibility in Design

New construction windows provide more flexibility in terms of design options, whether you are building a new home or undertaking a major renovation. They allow for greater customization, enabling you to choose from a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles.

Improved Structural Integrity

Installing new construction windows involves securing the window frames directly to the studs of your home’s frame. This ensures a strong and secure attachment, enhancing the overall structural integrity of your windows.

Versatility in Remodeling

If you are planning a significant remodeling project that involves altering the exterior walls, adding new rooms, or extending your home, new construction windows are the ideal choice. They can seamlessly integrate with new construction or remodeling plans.

Disadvantages of New Construction Windows

Higher Cost

Installing new construction windows typically involves more extensive labor and materials, resulting in higher overall costs than retrofit windows. The need to remove existing window frames and potentially make modifications to the surrounding structure adds to the expense.

Disruption To Interior and Exterior

Installing new construction windows requires exposing the interior and exterior walls, which can disrupt and damage your home’s finishes, such as drywall and siding. Extensive renovations may be necessary to restore the appearance and functionality of your walls.

Longer Installation Time

Due to the complexity of the installation process, new construction windows generally take longer to install compared to retrofit windows. This can prolong the timeline of your window replacement project, causing potential inconveniences and disruption to your daily routine.

Cost Comparison: New Construction vs. Retrofit Windows

The Cost Of New Construction Windows 

The cost of a new construction window replacement typically includes the following factors:

Window Units: The cost of the actual window units, which can vary depending on the size, style, and material chosen.

Labor: The cost of professional installation may be higher due to the additional steps involved in removing existing window frames and making modifications to the surrounding structure.

Additional Materials: Additional materials, such as flashing, insulation, and trim, may be required during the installation process, adding to the overall cost.

Cost of Retrofit Windows

In addition to the window units and the labor cost, the cost to retrofit windows depends on other materials you incorporate. 

Sealing and Insulation: Additional materials, such as weatherstripping and insulation, may be necessary to ensure proper sealing and energy efficiency.

Read More: A Cost-Effective Way To Update Or Replace The Windows In Your Home

When To Consider New Construction Windows

New construction windows are typically recommended in the following situations:

New Home Construction

New construction windows are the obvious choice if you are building a new home from the ground up. They are designed to be installed during construction and provide the necessary structural integrity.

Major Renovations

If you are undertaking a significant renovation project that involves stripping walls down to the studs, adding new rooms, or completely remodeling your home, new construction windows are the preferred option. They can be seamlessly integrated into the new construction or remodeling plans.


If you have specific design preferences or require unique window sizes, shapes, or styles that retrofit windows cannot accommodate, new construction windows offer the flexibility and customization options you need.

When to Opt for Retrofit Windows

Retrofit windows are often the preferred choice in the following scenarios:

Good Quality Existing Window Frames

If your existing window frames are in good condition and only the windows themselves need replacing, retrofit windows offer a cost-effective and efficient solution. This is particularly true if you are satisfied with the size and shape of your current windows.

Budget Considerations

If cost is a significant factor in your window replacement project, retrofit windows are generally more affordable than new construction windows. Utilizing the existing frames can save on labor and materials costs.

Minimal Disruption

Retrofit window installation is less invasive and disruptive compared to new construction windows. Retrofit windows are ideal if you want to minimize damage to your home’s interior and exterior finishes or avoid extensive renovations.


When it comes to window replacement, the decision between retrofit and new construction windows depends on various factors, including your budget, design preferences, and the condition of your existing window frames. Retrofit windows offer cost savings, ease of installation, and minimal disruption, making them a practical choice for many homeowners. 

New construction windows provide greater design flexibility and are ideal for new home construction or major renovation projects. By considering the advantages and disadvantages of each option and evaluating the specific requirements of your window replacement project, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Do You Want To Replace or Install New Windows In Your Home or Office In New Jersey?

If you are considering installing new windows or replacing the existing ones, a good place to start is by finding a trustworthy contractor in New Jersey. At Northkit Roofing, we are a team of expert and skilled window installers who you can rely on. Since we’ve been in the industry for years, we know what works and what doesn’t. 

Call us today at (973) 396-7416 and consult with one of our professionals about your window installation project. 

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