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Insert or Full Frame, Which Will It Be?

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Insert or Full Frame, Which Will It Be?

Many homeowners have no idea there are different ways to install replacement windows. Teaching them helps you, too

The project was a window and siding replacement. The company doing the work, Brothers Services, of Baltimore, elected to replace the existing windows with what are sometimes referred to as inserts or pocket windows. As work proceeded, the homeowner became alarmed. Why weren’t the full windows being removed?

A phone call to the company ended up at the desk of exteriors manager, Jon Riefler. Riefler listened briefly and realized he would need to explain in person why the company was installing that way. He headed to the jobsite “with parts and pieces” to do just that.

Ways To Do It

There are two methods of replacing a window: full-frame, or insert. An explanation provided by manufacturer Marvin Windows is that “insert window replacement is when new windows are installed within the existing frame. Only the old sash, hardware and covers are removed and replaced.” Full-frame is when “existing windows are completely removed down to the studs and the new window is installed in the opening.”

This matters when it comes to time, price, and factors such as visibility. It’s something homeowners need to know about, which is why sales consultants at the Renewal by Andersen franchise in Orange County in California explain it right away. “We take them to the window and ask them: ‘How do you want your windows installed?’ says the company’s general manager, Charles Gindele.

In many instances, homeowners don’t know that there are different ways to install. Those doing research, however, will find plenty out there. Googling “full frame vs. pocket window replacement” produces over 300,000 video links.

The One Our Client Chooses

Some door and window companies install mostly via insert. Some install mostly full-frame. Most can do one or the other, depending on the house, the wall and the window.

Kelly Window & Door, in Cary, North Carolina, for instance, has seven internally developed methods to install, covering both insert and full-frame, with subcategories. “Our preferred method is the one our client chooses,” owner Mike Kelly explains. “We can give them the pros and cons of each,” complete with a PowerPoint presentation and samples to better inform their decision.

At Callen Construction, in Muskego, Wisconsin, the majority of installs are full-frame due to termite damage or frame rot, an opening that’s badly out of square, or lack of insulation, allowing air leakage. “If you’re doing full-frame, you’re replacing more than the window,” says company president, Phil Callen. “You’re replacing extension jams, new interior wood trim, exterior wood trim, installing spray foam in the wall. There are so many variables.”

As a result, full-frame requires more time and more money. Contractors estimate it might take two or three times longer for a full-frame replacement, and both Callen and Gindele estimate that to replace a window using full-frame rather than insert installation in the same opening would be an additional $500-$600, about a third of that being materials.

Add to that the need, in some cases, for a subcontractor. Jim Lett, owner of A.B.E. Door & Window, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, notes that if the exterior of the house is stucco, full-frame installation involves removing several inches of stucco around the opening, after which the exterior stucco is patched up and painted. “To us, it depends on what’s currently in there,” Lett says. “Doing the install is not the problem. Having the exterior done properly is where the cost comes in.”

And if, once this is explained, the homeowner pushes back, Lett’s response is, “If you want it done right, this is what needs to be done. If you’re shopping price, it’s not going to be done the proper way. I’d rather have them get cold feet and not do the job than cut corners and do it the wrong way.”

Virtues Of Simplicity

Insert installation assumes that the frame remains in good condition, with casing and trim intact. It’s the most practical method of installing, says Dan Schweihs, president of Window Universe, a chain of 68 retail window stores that also sells online.

That said, Schweihs, who authors The Window Dog blog chock full of window information, advises flexibility. Thirty percent of his company’s installs are full-frame, including many builder grade vinyl windows from the 90s. “We suggest that if there’s a substantial problem with the old structure, if the old frame is rotten to bits or 100 years old and crooked, it’s easier to tear it all out,” Schweihs says.

He estimates the additional cost for full-frame at “maybe $100 to $300,” the drawback being that a project that’s “simple” is now longer and potentially disruptive. “You can take a two-day project and make it a week plus,” Schweihs continues. “You’d have to replace brickmold and exterior trim. The end result, a lot of times, is not substantially different.”

A principle advantage of insert installation is that it keeps the interior and exterior wall and trims intact. Steve Rennekamp, president of Energy Swing Windows, in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, similarly prefers insert installation, calling full-frame “cumbersome and costly.”

But it’s not all one way or the other, and every situation has its own specific requirements and best solution. Energy Swing practices a two-step sales process and after the initial visit, installation manager Jeff Blank goes to the house to determine what kind of installation is needed. “Our sales guys can generally determine the best installation, depending on what the homeowner wants to achieve,” Rennekamp says. But Blank will analyze and customize the install so that when the salesperson returns with a proposal, it includes the best installation method. If the job’s sold, Blank writes a job detail report that the installation team takes with them.

Trim Kits Compensate

While both methods hold advantages, each, similarly, comes with drawbacks.

With inserts, functionality can be an issue. “If you talk to a carpenter, they’ll say the only way to install is full-frame,” says Mike Damora, vice president of marketing and sales for K&B Home Remodelers, in Randolph, New Jersey. “Some people are really cognizant of glass size—they don’t want to lose any glass surface. And in a pocket, you’re going to lose some.”

A window lacking insulation will still lack insulation. And inserts, if not properly flashed, could result in leaks. K&B explains to homeowners that there’s two methods of installing, and “we ask them which they’d prefer.” If the preference is for inserts, “money is the driving factor.”

On the other hand, full-frame can be messy, especially if badly managed. Cortney Hotchkin, production manager at Toms River Door & Window, in Toms River, New Jersey, says that the issue of insert versus full-frame is about informing your homeowner. “So many people take the path of least resistance,” Hotchkin says. “They wrap and cap. We have a smarter buyer now.”

The determining factor, Hotchkin continues, is how long homeowners plan to stay in the house: 1-3 years would be an insert, and beyond that Toms River Window often uses full-frame systems that suppliers such as Sunrise and ProVia make available, including trim kits. These enable full-frame installs without the invasiveness and mess.

Companies have other ways to accomplish that. For its full-frame installs, Kelly Window & Door bends PVC brickmold on site into eyebrows, quarter rounds, and half rounds, meanwhile preparing interior trim in their own shop before heading to the jobsite, to minimize mess.

Look At Your Contract

Window companies, of course, rely on in-home salespeople for the most part, and the cost of a full-frame installation can “sometimes kill a sale,” Hotchkin says. “They might say, ‘Wait, I’ve got three estimates and no one else wants to change out the interior trim or is charging what you’re charging.” That problem arises, she says, if you’re not explaining it properly.

Or, as Schweihs notes, homeowners talking to multiple window companies may believe they’ve been promised full-frame, unaware that the promise wasn’t actually part of the contract.

As for Jon Riefler, of Brothers Services, he made a point of stopping by that job every morning. At the end of the week, the homeowners arrived home from work to find Riefler in the driveway waiting to show them the company’s work. “They thanked me and apologized for making a big deal,” he says.

Source: Original Article

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I cannot say enough good things about Gilkey! They were the third company I interviewed for my total house window replacement.The first company took no time to explain the product or process. The second company was so expensive that I almost fell off my chair when they handed me the quote. And just like Goldilocks, my third choice was just right. Kent was the Gilkey rep that I had the honor of working with. He is warm, professional, knowledgeable, and patient. He took the time to explain the product, listened to my concerns, and clearly knows the company. Ultimately, the price Kent offered, along with the product quality and the whole experience made it a no brainer choice for me.Due to supply chain issues and post-COVID recovery, it did take some time to obtain my windows. This was the only negative aspect, but I can’t even blame Gilkey, because the situation is truly out of their control. My installation happened last month, and the installation team was just as wonderful as Kent. Marson and his partner were timely and efficient. The total installation took about five hours, which was much faster than I anticipated.The product is absolutely beautiful! I’ve noticed with some vinyl windows, there is a bulkiness to the frame. But that’s not the case here! The windows are sleek and the profile is a bit lower that my old windows so we have a better view. The mechanism for opening is smooth and made of quality material - I anticipate them lasting a very long time. And the best part is that I’ve already noticed a marked decrease in my energy bill due to the excellent seal on these windows.I honestly could not be happier with my choice. I tell everyone about the great experience and love to show off photos of my new windows!
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We shopped around and no one could beat Gilkey’s prices and quality! We’re extremely satisfied with our purchase of a new back patio door. Bob Cohen was our sales rep and he was knowledgeable, professional and friendly. We got email statuses as our door made its way through the manufacturing process to keep us updated. The installation crew was great! It was a quick process to change out our door and they were able to keep our trim :) great team at Gilkey! Very happy customers!
Response from the owner: Thank you for choosing Gilkey and sharing your experience, Amanda! We're glad to hear that you're pleased with the quality, pricing, and service provided by Bob and our installation team. We appreciate your kind words and are delighted that you are happy with your new back patio door!
Had an issue on a door that was installed before we bought the house. Neither of the latches were were working and I could not get the door to lock.I spoke with Alex and she was going to have a tech come out on extremely short notice before a long weekend. Really impressed with the customer care even though I wasn’t original purchaser.
Response from the owner: Thank you for your 5-star review! Your feedback is very important to us.
We love our doors! Excellent quality! Our installer Justin was courteous, paid attention to detail and cleaned everything up. Very happy!!!
Response from the owner: Thank you for your 5-star review! Your feedback is greatly appreciated, Cory Calhoun and Justin Shultz do an amazing job with the installation. Enjoy your finished product!
Every single person that we worked with at Guilkey were amazing. Jeff Bass was our salesman. He was so knowledgeable, he spent a couple hours at our house to help us choose the right door, glass, and color. He left us with a wealth of information to help us decide what we wanted to do. The best part, he wasn’t pushy!The install manager, was incredibly accommodating. The two guys who showed up to install were very courteous and respectful of our property. They did an amazing and efficient job on the install. I think they left the floor cleaner than it was before they came!100% will recommend Guilkey to anyone and everyone
Response from the owner: We are grateful for your kind words and are delighted that you had a wonderful experience with our team. Thank you for recommending Gilkey!
We’re very happy with our new patio door. Quality product. I feel safer due to the locking mechanisms.The installers were friendly and detailed.
Response from the owner: We're so glad to hear you're enjoying your new patio door and feeling safer with the added security features. Thank you for sharing your positive experience!
Great door replacement and service.
Response from the owner: Thank you for your kind words about our door replacement service! We appreciate your feedback and your 5 star Review.
Gilkey was very professional and explained all the details and option for an entryway door. The installers did an excellent job and the door and side lights look great. There pricing very fair for their high quality products.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your 5 star review of your new grand entrance to your home!
We are very happy with the look and quality of our new Gilkey sliding door. The installation team was easy to work with, very skilled, and did an excellent job making the finished product look great! The project did take longer than expected and missed our holiday deadline, but overall we are very pleased with the results and would recommend using Gilkey to others.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Laura! We're thrilled you love the look and quality of your Gilkey sliding door. We appreciate your feedback on the installation process and apologize for any delay. Your recommendation means a lot, and we're glad you're pleased with the results!
Very well done by professional staff.Highly recommend to anyone looking for new doors.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Rebecca! We're pleased to hear you had a positive experience with our professional staff. Your recommendation means a lot to us. Much appreciated! Feel free to reach out for any future door needs.
Very expensive, but the workmanship and quality of the doors is excellent!The install for both doors went well no problems at all.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your 5 star review.
The door is beautiful, easy to open, lockThanks
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your 5 star review and enjoy your new door!
Love our new doors because of the quality and look! Install was on time and left the area clean. In addition, he did a wonderful job redoing the trim. We didn’t have to do anything. It couldn’t have been easier!
Response from the owner: Thank you for the 5-star review, your feedback is greatly appreciated! Enjoy your new doors!
We love our Gilkey slider door! It's solid and great looking. The entire team was very professional, and they did a high quality build and install. Thanks much Gilkey!
Response from the owner: Thank you for the 5 star review, your feedback is greatly appreciated !
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