Have you ever looked at your home and thought about a makeover? Whether it’s doors, roofing, or windows, each element plays a role, especially windows. They’re not just glass panes; they’re a home’s soul. But when it comes to choosing, what is the difference between a replacement window and a new construction window?

New construction windows are tailored with extra features to seamlessly integrate with a wall’s fresh wooden frame. Meanwhile, replacement windows are crafted to nestle snugly into an already established frame, bypassing the need for those added elements.

Dunsmore Exteriors professional window contractors can help you choose the best option for you. But even then, you need to understand the differences between the two types of windows.

What is a replacement window?

Replacement windows (retrofit windows) make the installation process easier. The windows are designed to fit seamlessly into existing window openings; they eliminate the need to tamper with the home’s exterior, focusing solely on the window unit itself.

Replacement windows offer homeowners a practical solution for window upgrades without the extensive labor of full construction. They are especially beneficial in older homes where the structural integrity of the window frame is intact, but the window pane or sash needs updating. Not only do they enhance the aesthetic appeal, but they also improve energy efficiency, potentially leading to savings on utility bills.

What is a new construction window?

New construction windows are designed for homes under construction or undergoing significant additions. They have exposed studs that are directly affixed to the home’s frame using a nail fin frame. This method anchors the window securely by nailing it into the home’s framing.

Replacement windows vs new construction windows

New construction windows come with added components, enabling them to connect directly to a wall’s wooden frame. In contrast, replacement windows lack these elements, as they’re meant to fit into an existing frame.

Aside from this, there are additional differences, which include:

  • Installation time and complexity

New construction windows are typically installed during the initial phase of a building project or when an existing window frame, siding, and trim need complete removal. This makes their installation more complex and time-consuming.

Replacement windows, on the other hand, fit into existing window frames. This means homeowners can upgrade their windows without major construction. The process is less disruptive and quicker, especially when handled by professionals.

  • Cost implications

While the product prices might be similar, the labor costs differ. New construction windows often have higher installation costs since the exterior siding or trim needs to be removed. However, replacement windows are generally more budget-friendly, with lower installation costs.

  • Design flexibility

New construction windows offer more design flexibility. Since they’re integrated during initial construction or significant renovations, there’s an opportunity to customize the window’s size and shape.

Replacement windows, while limited in design flexibility, allow homeowners to maintain the original appearance of their windows, upgrading only the energy efficiency and durability aspects.

  • Energy efficiency

Both window types are highly energy efficient. However, the efficiency of a replacement window can be limited by the existing frame’s condition. New construction windows attached directly to wall studs often provide a tighter seal, reducing energy loss.

Pros and cons of replacement windows

Replacement windows come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, including:


  • Quick installation: One of the most significant benefits of replacement windows is the speed of installation. Since they’re designed to fit into existing frames, there’s no need for extensive construction work.
  • Less disruption: The installation process is less invasive. Walls, sidings, and other structural elements remain untouched, leading to minimal disruption to daily life.
  • Cost-effective: Typically, replacement windows are more budget friendly. The reduced labor and installation complexities contribute to lower overall costs.
  • Enhanced energy efficiency: Modern replacement windows often have improved features. This means homeowners can enjoy the benefits of better insulation and reduced energy bills without a hefty price tag.


  • Limited design flexibility: One of the main drawbacks is the constraint in design. Since replacement windows must fit into existing openings, there’s limited scope for changing the size or shape.
  • Dependent on existing frame condition: The efficiency and effectiveness of a replacement window are largely dependent on the condition of the existing frame. If the frame is damaged or not properly insulated, the new window’s performance might be compromised.
  • Potential for imperfect fit: While they’re designed for existing openings, there can sometimes be minor discrepancies in fit, especially in older homes where window openings might have shifted over time.

Pros and cons of construction windows

Like replacement windows, construction windows have pros and cons too:


  • Complete renewal: One of the standout benefits of new construction windows is the ability to replace not just the window but also damaged frames and wall studs. This ensures a fresh start and a more secure installation.
  • Design flexibility: Since they’re integrated during the initial construction phase or significant renovations, there’s an opportunity to customize the window’s size, shape, and style, tailoring it to the architectural vision of the new structure.
  • Tighter seal: New construction windows, attached directly to wall studs, often provide a tighter seal, reducing energy loss and ensuring better insulation.


  • Invasive installation: The installation process can be quite invasive unless you’re building a new home or undergoing a major renovation. It often requires removing trim, siding, and other exterior elements down to the studs.
  • Higher labor costs: While the materials for new construction windows might be somewhat less expensive, the installation process is more labor-intensive. This means higher labor costs, making the overall project potentially more expensive.
  • Time-consuming: Given the extensive work involved, installing new construction windows can be more time-consuming than replacing windows.

Can you use new windows as replacement windows?

Yes, you can. The primary distinction between new construction and replacement windows is the presence of the nail fin, which helps secure the window directly to the wall’s wooden frame during the initial construction phase. If you’re undertaking a window replacement and plan to remove the exterior siding of the wall down to the studs, use a new construction window.

By exposing the studs, you create the necessary conditions to utilize the nail fin for installation, just as you would in a new build.

Contact the pros at Dunsmore Exteriors Roofing

Choosing between new construction and replacement windows is a significant decision that can impact your home’s aesthetics, functionality, and energy efficiency.

At Dunsmore Exteriors, we understand the intricacies of both options. As a family-owned and operated company with over 15 years of experience, we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional results tailored to our customers’ needs. Whether you’re building a new home, undertaking a major renovation, or simply looking to enhance your current windows, our team is here to guide you every step of the way.

If you’re ready to make an informed decision about your windows? Reach out to us today. Let’s transform your home together!


What Our Customers Are Saying

Live in Maryland and need new windows? Dunsmore Exteriors is the company you need to go with. We worked directly with Scott for all pricing and scheduling, then a crew came out and did the install. After it was all said and done you couldn't even tell that there had been workers in and around our house, except for our gorgeous new windows. A++++ rating for Dunsmore Exteriors!

Kelly M.
Gaithersburg, MD
Dunsmore Exteriors installed our sliding door, for our basement, and we love it. Easy to set up an appointment, nice work, and very friendly workers. Thank you Dunsmore Exteriors.

Nancy J.
Ellicott City, MD
Scott and the crew at DE are the best! Legit the best! Scott walked us through the entire roof and even dropped off shingle samples for us to look at on a Sunday afternoon. If you need a new roof you need to use Dunsmore Exteriors!

Karl B.
Westminster, MD
From start to finish Dunsmore Exteriors exceeded our expectations. Scott was on our roof the very first day and took detailed pictures showing exactly where our issues were. He helped us navigate the claim with our insurance company, and a few weeks later we ended up with a gorgeous new roof! Thank you so much Dunsmore Exteriors!!

Karen L.
New Windsor, MD
Scott and his crew at Dunsmore Exteriors did amazing work on our house! We had a brand new roof in a day and all the trash was cleaned up! Never knew I could have such a smooth time with such a huge project. Thanks Dunsmore Exteriors!

David T.
Westminster, MD
What can I say? Dunsmore Exteriors went above and beyond! Our roof looks great and was handled completely professionally and efficiently. We had no idea we could have a new roof this easily. My wife and I are ecstatic!

Frank L.
Columbia, MD
We needed new gutters but we kept putting it off because there was always some other project that needed to be done first. Until we started noticing damage from our gutters not draining properly. Along comes Scott to our rescue! He showed us the problems, explained how they would fix it, and before our next thunderstorm our gutters were right as rain! Thanks Dunsmore Exteriors!

William S.
Sykesville, MD
Scott and Dunsmore Exteriors did an excellent job on our roof. Scott showed us shingle colors and explained the warranties that went along with each option. In the end we felt confident that we made the best choice for our home and now we have a gorgeous roof.

Cynthia R.
Columbia, MD
prev next