How much does it cost to replace windows?
Be sure to shop around to find the features, efficiency and price for the best fit. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Clayton B. of Houston)
After years of home ownership, you'll probably have to replace a few windows in your home. Although you may take your windows for granted, they remain an integral part in maintaining a comfortable home.
Unfortunately, these invisible barriers are fragile and can be broken with minimal amounts of force. The cost to replace windows will vary upon size, amount of windows needed, style and quality, but despite the many brands and options available, affordable replacements are easy to find if you know what you are looking for.
Are your window frames rotting?
Before you estimate replacement costs, it's important to inspect the existing window frames for damage or rotting from insects and moisture. If the window's frame is soft to the touch, cracking or showing other signs of wear, it will need to be replaced, but if it's still solid, you can opt to simply install new glass, which will save you money. If you have to replace the wooden frames, expect your final price for installation and material to double.
Window replacement costs
Before you construct a window-replacement estimate, it's important to have a general idea as to where you plan on making a purchase.
Big-box stores may be the best option if you don't want to get "hands on." These stores will generally have fair prices for material and great insurance, but the commission and installation costs may be high. The cheapest way to have windows installed is to find your own qualified contractor and window manufacturer. For a standard-size 31"x45" double-hung window, expect to pay around $150 a piece with a $200 installation charge.
Double-pane or specialty-glass windows can run you anywhere from $200 to $300 a piece. Remember to add anywhere from $100 to $200 for each window frame you need to repair or replace.
Although the overall cost to replace windows can be very steep, it should be looked at as an investment, and you can reasonably expect your home's value to increase.
The different types of windows
Depending on climate or preferences, there are several different types of windows, each of which features its own set of attributes.
Double-hung windows are designed to be opened from the top or bottom, are great for hard-to-reach areas, and are generally the most inexpensive. These traits make double-hung windows the most commonly installed type.
Tilt-out windows fold in or out to reveal the glass's exterior, which allows it to be cleaned from inside your home. These types of windows are great for areas where exterior accessibility is limited, but they are typically more expensive than standard double hung windows.
Double-pane glass is widely available with the different encasement types, but it does carry an enhanced cost. Double-pane glass features an airtight space that is filled with inert gas. This method of construction helps with climate control, and paired with a properly sealed home, you can expect to save on utility costs.
Depending on your environment (or your wallet), you might want to explore the performance offered from the different types of specialty glass. You can get triple-pane windows for added savings, impact-resistant windows for areas of extreme conditions, or windows with shades built between the glass for a touch of modern living. These high-performance glass types are the most expensive to procure, but the added benefits may be worth the extra cost.
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a story first posted on June 17, 2013