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What is a “full frame” window replacement?

Good question, because I’m not sure many homeowners know they can choose between a “complete” (full frame) window replacement or inserting a replacement window.

Let me explain.

Most window replacements involve removing an existing window and inserting a replacement window. During the installation, we take out the sashes and track, but leave the buck frame, the brick molding and the interior trim intact. By “buck frame” we just mean the core frame of your window, you know, the “openings” in which your windows and doors are set. Then we cap over the brick mold with the maintenance-free coil stock. The existing sill stays too, and it is also capped with the maintenance free material.

When we do a full frame installation, all of the existing window is removed, all the way down to the 2 by 4s of the house. In other words, the buck frame is removed. We call what’s left the “rough opening.” We’ve taken out the sashes, the sills, as well as the exterior and interior trims.

So with a full frame window installation, everything gets replaced! Including your interior trim, which will be unfinished, so you will have to decide whether to stain or paint it. But you are getting a fully assembled window, with the exterior brick molding pre-assembled.

Now, when do you want to do a full frame replacement? It’s really up to you, but there are a couple of situations where full frame may or may not be the right choice.

First, if there is a significant amount of deterioration or wood rot, a full frame replacement is highly recommended.

Second, if you live in a heritage home, full frame installations are not typically permitted. That’s because the historical society really doesn’t want to see any alterations or changes done to the exterior trim of the home—their priority is preservation!

But another determining factor might be price. Full frame installations are more time consuming and require more detailed manufacturing and materials, therefore they’re going to cost you a little more. (20-25% on average).

Read more about full frames versus inserts in my latest article!

Gerry Rogers About Gerry Rogers

Gerry Rogers is the President of Mr. Rogers Windows

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