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Old 12-30-2017, 09:34 PM   #1
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Window Insert vs. All New Window


Own a 45-50 year-old small home in northern Michigan. Have owned it for over 40 years - so know it well. Have hired a small time local builder to gut kitchen down to studs, install new drywall, flooring, etc. Just 1 window which is 3’X4’ double pane alum slider. Hasn’t caused any problems. Both window and wood framing appear in solid condition. My thought was to put a whole new window in. Builder prefers the “insert replacement window” route. I can understand that working on a ladder in middle of winter and the hassle of having to cut through 3 layers of siding (2 wood and 1 vinyl) might be his reason. I’m comfortable with the insert which will probably result in lower labor costs. But am I overlooking anything important here if I go with his suggestion and opt for the vinyl insert (probably from Anderson). I’ve read they might be prone to leaking. But this is on the east side away from most wind blown rain. Giving up a couple inches of glass not a big concern either. Appreciate any candid thoughts.
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:31 PM   #2
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


If he is demoing the interior already, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t go full tear out/new construction here without knowing more about the exterior trim/siding challenges.

All the interior work is already done as part of the demo and put back.
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Old 12-31-2017, 05:04 AM   #3
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


There is another option than can be done from the inside if you current window has a word frame. Replacement jam liners and sash.

https://www.thespruce.com/sash-replacement-kit-1822964


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Old 12-31-2017, 06:51 AM   #4
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


Hi M.Feller and welcome to the forum.
Your description of the exterior siding "3 layers of siding (2 wood and 1 vinyl)" would concern me especially during the winter. Not sure if he is tenting that area or not but vinyl is not cold weather friendly.

One of the key downfalls of replacement windows is often no improvement of the surrounding installation, insulation and air sealing. With the interior gut that can be taken care of. On the outside new windows would include new flashing and since you currently don't know how well that was done there is some risk. But it has been that way for a long time.

What are your long term plans for those 3 layers of siding? I'm guessing sheathing, clapboard, then vinyl over it all.

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Old 12-31-2017, 07:22 AM   #5
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


I worked for a carpenter who refused to use replacement windows. To him, new construction was the only way to go. Cutting through the 3 layers of siding isn't as hard as making it look good after the window installation. Go for the new construction window.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:06 AM   #6
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


I don't see any fundamental benefit in new construction over insert unless you don't like the additional 3/4" frame on both sides. My question here is if the guy is demolishing the interior already, all of the trim work and interior work is going to have to be done already. Perhaps there is some gap on the phrasing here but in that case he is 95% of the way to a full tear out already. Maybe he is going to do a full tear out here but just not a new construction option (i.e. nailing flange). Maybe the layer of siding on the outside have him worried about that option.

If he is doing a full tear out (i.e. all the trim and the buck of the original window) he can easily address the envelope and get everything airtight on the inside.

If he has any exterior capping/trim skills, he can easily make the exterior water proof.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:39 AM   #7
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


Is your window all alum, or wood framed, wrapped in alum.?

All-alum windows are not the friendliest when it comes to accepting inserts. They do not have removable inside stops. And if there is no outside stop for a insert to seal against, meaning he would have to build in outside stops as well as inside stops, I would insist on the new construction.

Posting some pics of the window from inside and out might help to form a opinion.
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Old 12-31-2017, 11:12 AM   #8
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


There are a ton of little "what ifs" in this scenario, but if you have a competent builder then the vinyl replacement window will be fine as long as your contractor takes the time to do it right. Talk to him about sealing and insulating around it. As long as he's aware that it's important and willing to do a good job sealing the insert and insulating any gaps in the framing around the window, you should be fine.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:15 AM   #9
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


Appreciate all the replies. An area window dealer I phoned voiced possibly the same concern as one of you. He didn’t like the insert idea and mentioned possibly having to use heat to cut out part of the old alum window.

To add a little detail - The guy hasn’t yet begun work. He did a small repair job here last April and we talked about the remodel of my small 12x7’ kitchen. He is very well regarded in the neighborhood, personable, and more than reasonable in his prices. He wouldn’t do interior work in summertime because outdoor construction is booming. I’m here alone and willing and able to assist in the remodel. So it seemed a “good fit” for both of us.

I’ve been pushing him a little to get going for past month. I’ve purchased new cabinets, floor tiles, grout, and a few other basics which are on site or due to arrive soon. Stripped some of the drywall away around the old window to measure the framing. But when I attempted to order a full frame window the dealer advised me to contact the builder. One issue he mentioned is “nail fin” and whether the new window should have it. I’m quite certain the existing one does. Window is on the back of house. Outside appearance is of minor concern. And have lots of extra matching vinyl in the garage.

When I phoned the builder about the window (an area where I’m ignorant) he said he “normally uses” replacement windows in his remodeling work. I took that to mean he probably would find that faster and easier and that he knew how to do it right. The biggest advantage I see is that we can get the walls and flooring done immediately and install the window insert when it arrives (about 4-5 weeks after placing an order).

Here’s more on current installation. House originally had 3 of these all aluminum 4x3 double pane sliders. There was a manufacturer in the area. Excellent windows for their day (1960s). One was replaced 20 years ago with a larger one by a professional. Two remain, including the one under discussion. The original builder was a DIY home owner and did good work. He sided with exterior plywood. I and a friend installed over that a cheap wood siding that looked nice but didn’t hold up. About 20 years ago, a local siding company put on the vinyl.

Thanks again. You’ve given me a lot to chew on. Sounds like I need to talk to the builder soon about how he intends to remove the old window.

Last edited by M.Feller; 01-01-2018 at 09:43 AM. Reason: Corrected kitchen dimensions
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:59 AM   #10
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


I vote for the new construction window.
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:15 AM   #11
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


correction

Should have probably called these “single pane glass having built in storm windows” rather than “double pane” - which they are not.
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Old 01-01-2018, 12:23 PM   #12
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Re: Window Insert vs. All New Window


The current aluminum window (including frame) is exactly 3X4’ with the wood frame slightly larger (there’s a quarter inch plywood spacer at top). Feels like there’s a flange (nail fin) protruding on exterior side. It would seem an easy task to locate full frame window somewhere with the correct dimensions. But everywhere I’ve called, they say at least 4 weeks for delivery. What gives? Do you think I’d have a good chance of locating one without the wait - even if it meant driving 50 or 75 miles?

As you might guess, time is getting tight with the cabinets coming in 10 days and my desire to wrap everything up by March. I can throw some other options at the builder. But I’m not sure exactly what the options are. I believe he would be agreeable even to my having someone else install the window - but there’s the darn time element.

I gather the biggest gripe here about inserts is that they’re tricky to weatherproof and insulate? Otherwise, they would seem quite acceptable. Losing an inch or so of glass might actually improve the overall appearance of the kitchen with the new cabinets.

Thanks guys.

Last edited by M.Feller; 01-01-2018 at 12:25 PM.
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