Replacement or retrofit style frame? Which is right for you?

Last week I told you how to measure for your vinyl replacement windows when replacing aluminum windows. Now that you're ready to order your new vinyl replacement windows, we need to talk about the different frame style options available. In most of the country your choices are limited to either new construction or replacement frames. New construction frames come with a nailing fin to attach the frame to the studs during the construction of the new home. The replacement frame is basically the new construction frame minus the nailing fin.

But in the west, where stucco homes are common, manufacturers came up with a third type of frame called a retrofit frame. The retrofit frame has a fin about 2 inches wide, located flush with the outside face of the window. This is the best choice when replacing old windows, but not all states sell retrofit style windows. If you have a stucco exterior, retrofit is the way to go. You install the new window from the outside, and the flush fin covers the old aluminum frame that you are going to leave in place. Then you screw the new window in using deck screws through the side channels as well as the top header. We will get into more detail on the actual installation in a future article. If you have a stucco exterior, but there is a wood trim around the opening of the window where the flush fin would normally go, you can still use the retrofit style frame. You would need to order the thinnest flush fin available so you can trim the fins so they clear the wood and seal to the metal frame. You can do this same installation if your exterior is brick or siding.

If you live in a state where Retrofit frames are not available, you can purchase the replacement style frame, which is a box frame with no fins at all. Then you can install the window into the opening and use the flat trim that I sell on my site to create your own retrofit frame. Basically you are attaching the flat trim to the perimeter of the window to create the same look as the factory produced retrofit frames here in the west. I will devote a future article to the process of creating your own retrofit windows, or you can find information on my website. You can also purchase my instructional dvd which covers the process.