How much does it cost to replace windows?

Windows are a critical component of your home. They allow in natural light, provide viewing to the outdoors and help keep the home ventilated while open in the warmer months. Windows provide emergency escapes too, which is why building code requires a window in every bedroom or sleeping space of a home. Simply put, without windows, a home would not be complete.

Need a window replacement? How much is that going to cost and is it worth the investment? There are so many factors that play into how much your window replacement will cost. The style of window, materials they’re made of, how many you’ll require and how many features they include. Generally, replacing the windows on an average home, with less than 10 windows (and with none of them being custom or high-end styles), the cost could be around $10,000. In many cases, it will be much more than that. Read on for more information.

The value of a window replacement.

If your windows are older, drafty and inefficient, you’re probably considering a replacement. Replacing your windows will have a good return on investment in two ways. They will increase the resale value of your home and improve energy efficiency, which will result in energy cost savings over time.

Window Replacement ROI

A quality vinyl window replacement can recover about 73.9% of it’s cost at resale, according to this cost vs. value report for 2019. While this report was derived from statistics in the United States, it can still give us a good idea of the cost vs. value here in Canada. In the example, $16,800 was spent to replace 10 3×5 foot double hung windows. The replacement windows were vinyl with insulated, low-E, simulated-divided-light windows. They were custom coloured to match the home’s existing trim. Value added to the home was about $12,330 after the replacement.

In addition to the monetary value they’ll add to your home, you must consider how a window replacement will help attract buyers if you want to sell your home. Windows are one of the ‘big ticket items’ buyers look for when searching for a home. It’s a big job, and an expensive one, so having it done already can be a very attractive selling feature. Not only will they appreciate a home with new windows, it will also improve your home’s aesthetics. Improved curb appeal can make for a quicker sale at a better price.

Energy savings with a window replacement.

Windows are responsible for most of the energy lost in your home. Old, inefficient windows will let in the sun’s heat in the summer, wasting the efforts of your air conditioner. They will also allow heat to escape in the winter, driving up heating costs. Resources Canada states that windows, doors and skylights can be responsible for up to 35% of your home’s total energy loss.

With new, energy efficient windows, you’ll lose far less energy. Your heating and cooling system won’t have to work as hard to keep your home comfortable and you’ll start to see money coming back in savings on your utility bills. ENERGY STAR certified windows can save you an average of 8% on your energy bill each month. ENERGY STAR’s most efficient models claim to be up to 40% more efficient than standard windows. That will add up over time and eventually, your windows will pay for themselves.

Factors that determine the cost of a window replacement

Type of installation

There are two different types of window installations: full replacement or glass inserts. When you have a full replacement, you will be replacing the entire window, casing and all. This type of replacement is more typical and has more benefits for the homeowner. Because you are purchasing more product, and installation is more complex, a full-frame replacement will cost up to 15% more than a glass insert retrofit.

As you might have guessed, an insert installation is when you keep your frames and just replace the glass. This type of installation is most common with wood casings, but not impossible with other window frame materials. If the original casings are in good shape, a window company can measure the existing glass and give you a quote for a replacement. Often the quote will include double pane, glazed glass with UV protection. This is probably an upgrade from your old glass.

The complexity of the installation will also play a factor in the cost as well as the number of windows installed. Obviously, the cost of labour will be more to install multiple complex windows compared to a home with just a few simple windows.

You should also ask the window company if their pricing includes installation. In most cases, the price you are quoted will include the supply and installation of your window. It will likely include the disposal of your old windows too.

Price ranges based on window type

Cost of windows based on window type

Windows come in a wide range of design and operating styles. Window types include sliding, double-hung, casement, awning, picture, single-hung, custom and bay or bow windows. In most cases, you already know what type of window you want in each room, and so the task of choosing a window style isn’t a difficult one. If you want to mix things up, talk to a window company about your options.

Getting a quote directly from a window company in your city will also provide the most accurate price, but we can lay down some estimates to give you an idea. These window replacement cost estimates by type are provided by HomeAdvisor. They are for material only. Add up to $200 per window for installation.

Slider Window:

Sliders are often used for larger spaces. They will have two sashes, with one sliding horizontally over a stationary sash. Since you can remove one of the panes, they’re easy to clean.

Cost: $150 – $800. Folding slider windows require custom installation and can cost $500 – $900 per linear foot installed.

Single-Hung Window:

Single-hung windows are a classic window type. They’re a little like a slider window, but open vertically, with the stationary sash at the top. These can be hard to clean if they’re not on the ground floor.

Cost: $100 – $400

Double-Hung Window:

Double-hung windows look the same as single-hung windows, but both the upper and lower panes move. This slightly more complex operation makes them more expensive than single-hung windows. Having an opening at both the top and bottom of the window can help increase ventilation.

Cost: $150 – $650

Picture Window:

This type of window is fixed in place. Often a picture window will be a large window that doesn’t open. Sometimes they will have opening side panels. Picture windows can require custom sizing but are a nice option if you want maximum visibility to the outside.

Cost: $300 – $1,200

Casement and Awning Window:

These window types open on a hinge. Casement windows can open at the top, bottom or from either side. A window that is hinged on the top is called an awning window. They open with a crank, usually to the outside. Because of their operation method, casement windows close with the tightest seal. This makes them one of the more efficient window types. Because the pane can swing completely away from the window opening, it allows more breeze into the home.

Cost: $200 – $1,400. The wide price range depends on the window material and size.

Bay and Bow Windows:

Bow and bay windows are the most expensive window type. They can add square footage to your living space, which increases function, aesthetics and even resale value. A bay window is made up of 3 separate panes that are joined at an angle, extruding from the room. A bow window is similar but can have 5 or more panes. They don’t go out as far as bay windows but provide a larger window area.

Cost: $1,000 – $4,500. Expect to pay $2,250 on average for a large bay or bow window.

Custom windows:

There are two main reasons why homeowners might require a custom window installation. Older homes, like heritage homes or character homes, might not have a standard window opening size. Therefore, a custom window must be made to replace those old windows. In other cases, custom windows are require to meet a unique style or design plan for a home renovation.

Cost: $1,000 plus. Like anything, manufacturing a custom window will cost more than standard.

Keep in mind that these window price estimates are for the window only. You should add $100 to $300 per window for installation.

Price ranges based on window material

Cost on windows based on window material

The window material you choose will help determine the cost. These estimates are from HomeAdvisor. Expect to pay an average of $200 for labour ($100-$300) for each window. The type of window and its features are responsible for the wide price ranges.

Vinyl:

The most common material for a window replacement in Canada is vinyl. It’s affordable and innovative manufacturing techniques have allowed for insulating spacers and additional chambers, improving energy efficiency.

Cost: $100 – $900 each. Expect to pay up to $2,500 for a large bay or bow window type.

Wood:

This durable and attractive window material has been used since the dawn of window manufacturing! It does require regular painting or staining to keep it looking great. Wood can also be susceptible to rot, pests, warping and cracking. Wood is a natural insulator, which can help your windows’ thermal performance. Some historical neighbourhoods might have architectural restrictions and require wood framed windows.

Cost: $150 – $1,300

Aluminum:

This is the most affordable option but isn’t used very often anymore. Aluminum conducts heat, which means it can move heat from your house to the outside, which is the opposite of what you want. It can also collect condensation with changing temperatures and that moisture can damage your drywall.

Cost: $75 – $400. Large windows or high-end window types can cost $1,200 or more each.

Fiberglass:

This material is considered more durable than vinyl but provide similar thermal performance. They are more expensive, without that much added benefit, which is why they are not very common for window replacements in Canada.

Cost: $500 – $1,500. Fiberglass windows are about 15% to 30% more than vinyl windows.

Composite:

Composite windows are made of natural wood fibres with a PVC polymer holding it together. They’re durable, efficient and less maintenance than wood. Homeowners like composite windows because they can mimic the look of wood without the maintenance.

Cost: $300 – $1,200

Window features that determine cost

Energy efficient windows come with a range of great features that help improve your home’s thermal performance. The features listed below are generally standard, so cheap windows that don’t have them will not be good quality.

Low-e Coating:

Low-E (low-emissivity) coatings help reflect the sun’s heat and harmful UV rays back to the outside of the house. Without low-E coatings, your windows will allow that heat to come right in, heating up the space and straining the air conditioner. In the same way, the coating will reflect heat back into the home in the winter. Having windows with low-E coatings will improve efficiency.

Argon Gas:

Most vinyl windows have gas, typically argon gas, filling the space between the panes. This acts as an insulator, reducing heat loss and condensation on the windows. Triple pane windows will have an additional layer of this gas fill insulation, which is why they have a higher thermal performance…and why they’re more expensive.

Insulating Spacers:

In high end windows, an insulating glass spacer is used to join the panes of glass together. This spacer used to be made of metal, but now a synthetic elastomer is used. Not only does this spacer feature improve efficiency, it also reduces noise transfer from the outside.

If you are working with a window company that also manufactures their own windows and doors, you might be able to customize your replacement windows. You can choose what features and upgrades you want for some or all your replacement windows. Most companies will have all these features in their standard windows but can offer upgrades. For example, you can get security glass or an upgrade low-E coating that has higher UV resistance.

If a window company does not have windows with low-E coatings, gas fill insulation or insulating spacers you should be cautious of their quality. Remember that the cheapest windows are not the best, and you’re better off spending the money on high quality windows.

Triple pane will cost more than double pane windows

Triple pane windows are more energy efficient than double pane windows. They are also more expensive. That extra pane allows for another layer of argon gas, providing more insulation and greater thermal performance. That said, double pane windows can still be good if you live in a milder climate.

To determine whether you need double or triple pane windows, you should see what type of window is recommended for your climate zone. Canada is divided into three climate zones. Windows must have a specific energy rating (ER) to qualify for each zone. Mild regions, like Vancouver Island or the Lower Mainland in British Columbia, might not require the higher ER rating of triple pane windows. More areas in Canada will require the ER rating that comes with triple pane windows.

Warranty

Window manufacturers that offer longer, more comprehensive warranties might be slightly more expensive. Before you purchase any windows, ask about the warranty. Most companies offer a warranty, 10 to 25 years, on hardware and glass. Warranties on workmanship are less common, but some companies do offer them.

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