How Much Does Window Replacement Cost?
Window replacement makes your home more energy efficient, but you have to spend money now to save money down the road. Here's how much.
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Although there are many motivations for window replacement, one of the most important is energy savings. Contemporary windows feature double- and triple-pane glass and thermally insulated frames, things that weren’t available when older homes were built and energy costs were lower.
Because of the energy-saving benefit, window replacement can increase home value. Homelight estimates an 81 percent return on investment. And with energy prices unlikely to drop, upgrading your windows could save you money in the long run.
A new window generally costs between $600 and $800. What you’ll pay depends on several factors, including labor. The latter can run from $400 to $500 per window, according to Wayne Owczarzak, owner of Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company.
Some homeowners may have the DIY skills to install their own windows, depending window type and placement. Experts like Owczarzak say most shouldn’t attempt it. More on that later.
On average, it costs about $7,500 to professional replace 10 double-hung windows in a typical 2,500 square foot home. High end wooden windows will cost more. But there are ways to lower your window replacement costs.
Factors Affecting Window Replacement Cost
Unlike new windows, window replacements fit inside the existing window frame. Owczarzak calls these “pocket windows.”
Some of the factors that influence window replacement cost are:
- Window frame material: The most common are vinyl, fiberglass and wood. Less common options include composites and metal (primarily aluminum).
- Window type: All have different price tags and installation requirements (details below).
- Size of window opening: Larger windows cost more than smaller ones.
- Condition of the window opening: Severe rot and deterioration drive up labor costs.
- Window placement: Upper-story windows may call for extra skill and equipment.
- Age of home: Older homes often have non-standard window openings that require custom-made replacements.
- Type of glass: Most contemporary windows have double-pane glass, but triple-pane is available for extra insulation. You can also order windows with tempered or laminated (safety) glass and UV-resistant coatings.
Replacement Costs of Different Types of Windows
For cost estimation, you can classify windows by frame material and window type.
- Aluminum: Aluminum frames are cheap, but they don’t insulate well. They’re usually reserved for utility and commercial windows, although they can be an option for budget-conscious homeowners. Each window unit costs from $100 to $400.
- Vinyl: After aluminum, this is the least expensive frame material. It runs between $200 and $500 for a standard double-hung window.
- Wood: This traditional material never falls out of favor. A double-hung wood window costs between $300 and $600.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass can be molded to look like wood and offers the best durability and energy efficiency. A double-hung window costs $800 to $2,000.
- Single-hung: Found in older homes, these feature a lower sash that slides up and down and a fixed upper sash. A replacement single-hung window costs between $100 and $400.
- Double-hung: These have two sliding sashes that tilt inward, making it safe and easy to clean the outside glass. They cost between $300 and $600. Here’s how to fix a double hung window.
- Casement: The sash on a casement window pivots on a vertical axis, operated by a crank. An awning window is similar but pivots from the top on a horizontal axis. Replacement costs are between $300 and $600.
- Sliding: These open and close along a horizontal track. Quality varies widely, and so does cost — from $200 to $2,000.
- Picture: These are fixed but often non-standard sizes. Costs range from $300 to $800.
DIY vs. Pro Window Replacement
Window replacement isn’t all that complicated, and in many cases it requires minimal exterior work. You can often remove old sashes from indoors after prying off the molding, pop in pocket windows and replace the molding.
It takes a contractor from two to four hours, on average, to install a replacement window. But unless you’re skilled, it will likely take you longer. Consider the following before you decide to DIY:
- Contractors get a discount on replacement windows unavailable to homeowners.
- Contractors are better equipped to handle problems, such as windows that don’t fit exactly and crumbling or out-of-square window frames. Owczarzak says window replacement won’t improve efficiency if air is coming through the gap between the window and the framing. It often takes professional skill to resolve issues like this.
- Replacement windows can be heavy, and it often takes two people to lift one and set it in the window opening. If you drop the window, you pay for a replacement. A contractor who drops one is the person who pays, not you.
- Poor installation practices, like improper sealing or omitting weatherproof frame lining, shorten the life of the window and negate the insulation benefits. A contractor guarantees work against such defects. If you do the job yourself, you assume the liability.
- DIY installation may void the product warranty.
Additional Cost Considerations
The list of materials for even a simple window replacement is longer than many homeowners expect. It includes waterproofing tape, silicone caulk and foam insulation.
Besides the window itself, you usually also have to replace stops and parting strips that keep the window in place. Depending on the condition of the casing and windowsill, you may also want to replace them.
Upgrading to a larger window means widening the opening. Besides the framing work involved, that necessitates a complete interior and exterior trim makeover.
Tips for Saving Money
Over and above doing the installation yourself, you can control window replacement cost in these ways:
- Install windows with a simpler design than the ones you’re replacing, such as solid panes instead of panes with grids.
- Stick with standard colors and sizes.
- Replace several windows at once so you can buy them in bulk.
- Pay by cash or check. A window supplier who incurs a three percent swipe fee for a credit card usually passes on that fee to the consumer.
- Look around for seconds. Builders often sell unused windows on CraigsList.com or recycle them through Habitat for Humanity’s Restore.
- Choose Energy Star windows, which qualify for any applicable energy efficiency tax credits. The federal Residential Energy Efficiency tax credit expired in 2021, but some state and local governments still offer incentives for energy efficient windows.
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