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Minneapolis Replacement Window Options: Full Frame vs Insert Windows

When we meet with prospective customers here in the Twin Cities to discuss replacement windows, we find that most people are not aware that there are two distinct types.  This is different than windows for new construction, where there is only one choice.  But when you’re replacing your windows, you can choose between full frame replacement windows and insert windows. Understanding the difference between these two and why one might be better for your situation will help you make a more informed decision.

Replacement Windows:  Full Frame or Insert?

You may not be familiar with these terms, so here are the basics:

  • Full frame windows include the window itself as well as all the surrounding interior and exterior trim.  They are very similar to windows designed for new construction. Your old windows and their surrounding elements are removed completely, leaving the studs in the window opening exposed. Often some siding needs to be removed, but usually it will be covered during the installation process. When the new replacement windows are installed, new trim and framing are also put in.  It’s a more involved process, which also makes it more expensive. If there is any damage to the studs creating the window opening or to the surrounding wall, full frame is your only option.
  • Insert windows are just what the name implies:  the window sashes are inserted into the existing frame.  Hardware and any covers are also replaced. Some installers refer to these windows as pocket windows or frame-in-frame windows. The process is quicker than installing full-frame windows, and that makes it more economical.

You might be tempted to think, “I guess I will go with insert windows then, since it’s easier and cheaper.”  But insert windows may not work for your home. They are only appropriate if the existing window frames and surrounding studs are structurally sound.  Plus, the addition of new windows to an existing frame may result in less visible light, because more of the window opening will be taken up by window framing.  If maximizing light is an important consideration for you, insert windows might not be the best choice.  Also, if you’re thinking about changing your exterior trim, full frame windows would make more sense.  Finally, you may want to change the window frame material to something that requires less maintenance or is better suited to our climate.

Which type of window is best for your home?  That depends on the condition of your existing window frames as well as what factors are important to you.  Of course, budget is likely a consideration.  We have a variety of full-frame and insert replacement windows from multiple manufacturers available for you to choose from. We’re confident we can help you select the right windows for you and your home.

Window Outfitters, Inc. is a licensed Minnesota home improvement company specializing in the installation of energy-efficient replacement windows in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. 






Window Outfitters is a premier Window Replacement, doors, siding contractor and installer. As Contractor in the St Paul, Minneapolis, (Twin Cities) Minnesota (MN) metro, we proudly serve, but are not limited to, the following areas: Minneapolis Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows, Replacement Window Contractors Minnesota, Burnsville, Apple Valley, Lakeville, Savage, Bloomington, Edina, Richfield, Eagan, St Paul, Hastings, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Eden Prairie, Farmington MN, Chaska, Shakopee, Chanhassen, Victoria, Mendota Heights Anderson Windows Minneapolis, Marvin Windows Minneapolis.