Top 5 Factors That Influence the Price of Replacement Windows




How much do replacement windows cost? This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the industry, yet one of the most difficult to answer. The truth is that there isn’t a straightforward answer in terms of how much you’ll pay for a window, and the price tag varies from company to company.

"How much do replacement windows cost?" This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the industry, yet one of the most difficult to answer. The truth is that there isn’t a straightforward answer in terms of how much you’ll pay for a window, and the price tag varies from company to company.

Before you contact a window company for your quote, it helps to understand the variables that influence price. A quote is not your final bill, and the overall cost can change if complications or unforeseen events arise.

So, what exactly are the factors that influence the cost of a replacement window, anyway?

The Top 5 Factors That Impact the Price of Replacement Windows

1. Replacement Window Quality: High End vs. Low End

Perhaps one of the biggest influencers of the price of a replacement window is quality. All replacement windows are not created equal, and quality ultimately reflects on the price.

In fact, quality is one of the biggest reasons you’ll find such large price variations between replacement windows. According to Angie’s List, the cost of windows varies between $175 to $1,200 per window---and this doesn’t always include installation.

If you’re scratching your head over how a single window can differ so much in terms of cost, there are several indicators that impact quality such as:

  • Frame material type, durability
  • Glass packages and heat resistance
  • Installation
  • Warranty and Certification

Generally, higher quality windows are going to cost more than low-end windows. It’s sort of the same as buying a Ferrari vs. a Ford. You can’t expect to buy a luxury, high-performance sports car at the same price as an everyday vehicle.

2. Replacement Window Materials

Frame material is one of the primary indicators for window pricing. The two most popular frame material options for residential windows are vinyl and wood.

When comparing the two materials in terms of quality, vinyl and wood are about the same. This is assuming that you’re choosing a high-quality frame.

Even though wood and vinyl can offer the same benefits in terms of quality, there is a big difference when it comes to price.

Vinyl is the Most Cost-Effective Window Frame Material

Vinyl is the most cost-effective option for replacement windows - as long as you select a high-grade vinyl window, you’ll see energy savings down the road and more money in your wallet.

Vinyl window frames are the most cost-effective option because:

  • Unlike wood windows, they require very little natural resources for manufacturing.
  • Since vinyl doesn’t require harvesting of trees, there are lower transportation costs which decrease the overall price of the window.
  • It’s a readily available material.
  • Installation is fairly easy for a skilled contractor.

If you are especially concerned about budget, it’s wise to choose vinyl over other window materials, such as wood.

The Expense of Wood Windows

Real wood windows are beautiful, but it’s no secret that they are significantly more expensive than vinyl replacement windows.

You can expect to pay anywhere from 30% up to 50% more per window when you choose wood over vinyl. But why are wood windows so expensive?

  • They use limited natural resources that must be harvested and transported.
  • It’s real wood - typically Douglas Fir.
  • Fewer companies offer real wood windows due to expense and maintenance requirements.

Sure, wood is an excellent insulator, but energy efficient, vinyl window frames are filled with foam to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It’s the same insulation effect as wood but at nearly half the cost.

A Quick Note on Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows is an alternative to both wood and vinyl windows. These are high-quality windows but are usually priced about 30% higher than vinyl.

Replacement Window Material Can Influence Price

3. Energy Efficient Glass Packages

Your window’s glass package is another major influencer for the cost of replacement windows.

When you hear about windows that cost $189, energy efficient gases are NOT included within the panes. Otherwise known as inert gases, argon and krypton. These gases serve as insulators to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Furthermore, these cheap windows typically do not include any application of low-e. This is an invisible coating that works to prevent your home from overheating during the summer. It also prevents floors and furniture from fading.

So, what you can you expect to pay when you opt for windows that include an inert gas and low-e?

The Price of Energy Efficient Windows

In terms of gas, argon is less dense than krypton, making it the cheaper option between the two. Adding either of these gases and low-e to your window can increase the cost by roughly 15%.

While it’s pricier to invest in energy efficient windows, remember that they can help you lower your energy bills by hundreds of dollars each year. Not to mention, you can get a return on investment of up to 75%.

4. Your Window’s Installation Process

There are two types of window installation: full-frame installation and pocket installation.

This is a quick snapshot of the difference between the two:

Full-Frame Window Installation:

This is the process of replacing the entire window. Everything comes out during a full-frame window installation, including the window, the sill, and trim work. This process is a bit slower than pocket installation and there is often touchup work required after the job is finished.

Not only does full-frame window installation require more labor, but it also requires additional materials. Insulation and drip edge are required to ensure that the window is working efficiently. These extra materials, added with the increased labor, results in a higher overall cost of the window.

When should you choose full-frame installation? It’s common for windows that are severely deteriorating or if you want to change the overall shape and style of a window opening.

Pocket Installation:

Pocket installation is the quicker method of replacing your old windows. It is the process of sliding a new window inside an existing frame. This is also known as a “retrofit” or “insert window”.

You’d choose pocket installation when you want the best return on investment for your new upgrade. Since pocket installation is less expensive than a full-frame tear out, you’ll spend less while still improving the value of your home. This option is fast, affordable, and very easy to maintain.

Regardless of the window installation type you choose, labor is involved either way. This is another factor that must be calculated when it comes to the cost of your windows.

Cost of Labor for Window Installation

Most window contractors charge per hour or per project for window installation. Installation is often completed on the same day, but sometimes it can take 2-3 depending on the number of windows installed and the weather.

In terms of an hourly rate, window installation runs at an average of $38 per hour. This may be higher or lower depending on the market and the experience of the contractors.

Now that you know about the labor costs involved with window replacement, the last piece of the puzzle leads us to warranty and certifications.

Replacement Window Installer

5. Warranty and Certifications

Just like the price of windows, warranties vary from company to company. Depending on what your warranty covers on your windows, it will reflect in your overall price.

When a window company includes a warranty with its product, you’re getting a better-quality window with the manufacturer standing behind it. You’re essentially paying for a strong warranty and a great product.

Windows without warranty will often cost less. The bad news is, if anything goes wrong with the window, whether it’s aesthetic or performance-based, you’re left footing the bill. You might even have to replace the entire window out of your own pocket.

On the other hand, if the window has a warranty, it’s built into the cost. If anything goes wrong, it’s most likely covered by your warranty. Overall, you never want to invest in windows without a warranty---this is just asking for trouble and you will likely always pay more one way or another.

The True Cost of Replacement Windows

While window prices vary, be selective with the window company that you choose. To learn more about the cost of windows and how far your budget will take you, contact Universal Windows Direct today for your FREE replacement window quote.

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Determining Replacement Window Quality for Residential Homes