Do you know that windows can account for a significant portion of a home's energy consumption for heating and cooling? It's true! The energy waste from windows is due to heat gains and losses. In fact, windows lose and gain more heat than any other part of a home and bare windows lose 10 to 20 times more heat than a properly insulated wall. Old, worn, and damaged windows waste even more energy, which is why it's crucial to know when to replace or upgrade your windows.
There are two options for replacing windows: retrofit windows and new construction windows. However, what sets these two apart and which one is suitable for your home? Let's discuss.
Retrofit windows are made of new construction materials, but they serve as replacement windows. They are used to change damaged, worn, or outdated built-in windows. On the other hand, new construction windows are full-frame windows that come with a nailing fin (a thin sheet of metal) attached to their exterior side, which goes straight into a wall stud to secure the entire window frame in place. The wall surrounding new construction windows then covers the nailing fin, making them a more permanent home structure, and hence the reason why all new homes and extensions require new construction windows.
Retrofit windows, on the other hand, have smooth sides and don't come with nailing fins. They are installed by inserting them into the existing window frame and then securing them with tape, caulk, screws, and nails.
For existing homes, new construction windows may be necessary in instances of severe damage or decaying window frames, major remodeling or renovation projects, extensions or room additions. However, retrofit windows are a more affordable option and are ideal if the existing frames are still in top condition and if you need a quick and low-cost solution to leaky, drafty windows.
In conclusion, the choice between retrofit and new construction windows depends on the condition of your existing windows and the extent of your renovation project. Regardless of your choice, it's essential to choose quality windows that can effectively insulate your home and reduce energy waste.