Just because you have condensation or dirt spots inside your window panes doesn’t mean you have to pay for new windows. Save money by re-using the frame and replacing the glass.

Replacing windows is an expensive project that not only includes the cost of the window itself, but also the cost of installation (for the less-than-handy homeowner). For that reason, you’ll first want to consider whether or not repairing, rather than replacing, will do the job.

A window repair is really a less intense window replacement. Rather than remove the entire frame, trim, sashes, and glass, you’ll simply re-use the current frame and replace everything else.

But window repair can only be considered if the original window frame is sound and square. The best way to determine the health of your window frames is to take a screwdriver and attempt to poke a hole through the frame. If the screwdriver becomes embedded or slides through the frame, then the wood is rotten. (If your not comfortable doing this task yourself, you can always ask a window installer, home inspector or contractor to take a look for you.) Unfortunately, if your window frames are rotting or sagging you’ll need to replace everything.

If, however, the frame is solid, straight and water tight, then ask a local glass or window supplier to quote the cost for replacing the glass, sash, side jamb and trim. This option is usually significantly cheaper than replacing an entire window and frame. For example, a low-E storm window (which allows sunlight through, but prevents heat from escaping) will cost between $200 and $500 for the glass and another $40 to $200 to install. A full replacement (window and frame) starts at $500 for the material and $50 to $300 for installation.

To put these costs in perspective, let’s take a home with 10 standard windows. To repair the windows (and replace the glass) you’re looking at a material and installation cost between $2,400 and $7,000. Alternatively you’ll pay a minimum of $5,500 to replace the window and frames.


  • Replacing multiple windows will cost you less, per window, than replacing one or two windows.
  • Take advantage of rebates, such as Quebec’s Energy Star window replacement offer, pays between $6 and $10 per square foot of replaced window or patio door. http://www.fee.qc.ca/en/residential/energy-star-window.php
  • The cost of windows is all about materials. The least expensive material is vinyl, which is virtually maintenance free. Next is composite, which is a wood and polymer blend. For slightly more than composite you could purchase fiberglass windows or you could go the top of the expense scale and purchase wood or wood-clad windows.

Originally published on MoneySense.ca.

Romana King

Romana King is an award-winning personal finance columnist and real estate expert. She specializes in creating editorial content that uses data to help home buyers, sellers and investors make smarter real estate decisions.