Replacing Window Glass vs. Replacing a Window | Brennan

Replacing Glass in Windows vs. Replacing Whole Windows

Deciding whether to repair or replace your windows? You’re not alone. We frequently receive calls from homeowners interested in glass replacement, unfortunately, our company doesn’t specialize in glazing (glass) replacement. So who do you call when you think you need glass replacement? And is it glass replacement that you need or whole window replacement?

We’ll help you find the answers and solutions to your questions in this post. 

Glass Replacement vs Whole Window Replacement

Homeowners usually start considering window or glass replacement when they’re experiencing the following problems:

  • High energy bills
  • Drafty windows
  • Leaks around the window frame
  • Rot in the window frame
  • Cracks in the glazing (glass)
  • Condensation between the glass panes

Typically, we recommend full window replacement but if you’re only dealing with one window glass-only replacement could be a good option for you.

What is Glass Replacement?

Window glass replacement involves removing the glass from your window sash or frame, depending on how the window is made. Glass replacement is typically an option when the window frame is new or in relatively good condition but you’ve run into a problem like a broken or cracked glass pane. We’ll get into when you should choose glass replacement below, but first, what is whole window replacement?

What is Whole Window Replacement?

Whole window replacement involves removing the entire window (sashes, frames, and all) and replacing it with a completely new unit. If the windows in your home are old, in poor working condition, inoperable, or have single-pane glass, whole window replacement is a good option. 

When Should I Choose Glass Replacement?

Glass-only replacement is always an option when your window frames are in good shape but you’re having problems with the glass. Homeowners usually choose glass-only replacement when the glass in the sash is broken or if they regularly have problems with condensation between the glass panes.  

We generally consider glass-only replacement as a short term solution to window problems unless:

  • Your window frames are relatively new and the glass in the sash is broken
  • You have historic wood single-pane glass windows

When the window frames are still fairly new, you can work with a glass repair expert known as a glazier to fit your windows with new glass. If you know the manufacturer of your windows you can reach out to them to see if there are any warranties on the glass of your window. 

Owners of historic homes usually want or are required to preserve the original architectural elements of their home as best as possible. A professional glazier can help you find the right glass for your window. Fortunately, replacing single-pane glass in wood windows is typically easier and less expensive than replacing double or triple pane insulated glass units (IGUs). 

Glass replacement or sash replacement is an option for windows having condensation problems but this is considered a temporary solution. To be clear, we’re talking about condensation or fog between the glass panes not on the exterior sides that you are able to touch. Condensation or fog between the glass is indicative of glass seal failure. 

Learn more about condensation in windows here: Why Do My Windows Have Foggy Glass?

Image Credit: Milgard Windows & Doors

When Should I Choose Window Replacement?

Window replacement involves more than replacing glass. All of our window replacement projects require removing the entire existing window down to the original rough opening in the wall framing. Buying replacement windows is usually more expensive than replacing glass but there are many reasons why window replacement is more beneficial than glass replacement. 

  • Replacement windows offer a long-term solution to condensation between the glass. Condensation between the glass becomes a problem when the seals around the glass have failed. The seals fail because of continued expansion and contraction in the window frame, buying replacement windows that are designed to reduce expansion and contraction will reduce the likelihood of dealing with condensation between the glass again.
  • Replacement windows with double or triple pane insulated glass units offer improved energy efficiency. The glass in your window blocks air and allows light to enter your rooms but the glass alone offers no major insulation. Non-toxic non-visible gas between the glass panes and glass coatings are what contribute to the window’s energy performance. Modern replacement windows will offer better energy efficiency than older windows made with poor frame materials or single pane glass. 
  • Replacement windows are a good consideration if you want to update the look of your home. Some of our clients decide to upgrade their existing windows because the windows are no longer operable or energy efficient but many more decide to replace their windows because they want to change the look of their home. Out with old single-pane aluminum windows and in with new fiberglass-clad wood windows or maintenance-free vinyl windows. 

Learn more about replacement windows here: Replacement vs New Construction Windows

If you decide to go with whole window replacement, take a look at our related posts below to learn more about window brands and the replacement process. You can also check out our product catalog using the navigation or by clicking this link to our Window Brands.


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