Window Replacement: Insert vs. Full Frame

replacement windows in Lancaster PA

Upgrading your windows can be a great way to introduce a new element to your interior décor — and to save money on your monthly energy bill at the same. While you have an ample selection when deciding on your new window frame material, one of the biggest choices when replacing your windows is deciding between insert vs full-frame windows.

Whether you’ve been doing your research or have just heard these terms, this is a significant choice you need to make before securing your window upgrades. At Eby Exteriors, we’re not just about installing fantastic replacement windows — we’re also all about helping our customers make the best choice possible.

Read our blog to get the insider scoop on insert vs full-frame window replacement — and to decide which may be right for your renovation.

Window Inserts vs Full-Frame Window Replacement

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Almost all window replacement jobs fall into one of these two categories: insert replacement or full-frame window replacement. The first part of deciding which one you want is to understand the basics of what each of them do.

Insert replacementalso known as pocket window replacementis the process in which you leave the existing frame, replacing the glass, the hardware, and the trim. On the other hand, full-frame window replacement is the process of tearing out the entire window frame and installing an entirely new window and frame within the rough framing of the existing structure.

As you can probably expect, since full-frame window replacement is more labor intensive, it is the more expensive installation method. While some factors — like your current window frame material and water damage — may limit your options, generally you can choose between pocket window or full-frame replacement.

Insert Window Replacement: Pros & Cons

In order to be a candidate for pocket window replacement, your old windows need to be a slimmer material like wood or fiberglass. Bulky vinyl windows are generally too thick and require a full tear-out before the new install can begin. This can be a problem as vinyl windows need to be replaced more often.


  • Less expensive than full frame window replacement — This can be a major factor for some homeowners looking to save as much as possible on their renovation.
  • Less time needed for the job — Since the work is less involved per window, the job can be finished more quickly.
  • Keeps your existing siding and trim the same — While most homeowners are excited for a new flair, if you want to maintain your window’s frame exactly as is, insert window replacements accomplish that.


  • You may lose some visible glass space — This is because your new windows will be installed “inside” of the existing window frame.
  • Doesn’t provide an in-depth opportunity to search for water damage — During full replacement, your window replacement contractor has the chance to really open things up and look for rot, mold, and water damage that may have infiltrated around your windows.
  • Not an option for homeowners with bulky vinyl windows — In order to be eligible for insert window replacement, you NEED to have a sleeker window material. Unfortunately, vinyl windows are the budget option, yet they can mean having to pay more for replacement.

Full Frame Window Replacement: Pros & Cons

Full-frame window replacement is a more in-depth method to upgrade your windows which involves tearing out the entire window frame and structure. No matter what type of window you’re replacing, full frame replacement will work for you. Check out the pros and cons of this upgrade style.


  • Fresh start stylistically — You can make your new replacement windows look like anything you want, inside and out. Modern or rustic, the choice is yours.
  • Benefit from a slimmer frame — If you tear out an old vinyl window frame, you can replace it with a slimmer and more attractive frame.
  • Find possible water damage — If your old windows leaked, they may have allowed water to infiltrate your siding. Full window replacement allows you to find the hidden signs of water damage — before they spread.


  • More expensive than insert window replacement — Since it’s a more in-depth job that takes longer, full-frame is more expensive compared to pocket window replacement. However, for most homeowners who choose this method, the expense is worth it.
  • The job takes longer — Once again, a more in-depth job means a bigger time investment. Generally, this isn’t a problem if you like your home contractor, but saving time is always appreciated.

Window Replacement Contractors in Lancaster PA

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Still trying to decide between window inserts vs full replacement? We can help you make your choice. At Eby Exteriors, we can walk you through selecting and replacing the right new windows — and the right installation method.

Whether you want a quote to replace your windows — or need some helping deciding what you need, contact us today.

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