Which Size Replacement Window Should I Choose?

When thinking about creating a warm, inviting and modern home, no element has more impact after paint, than windows. 


Replacement windows have the power to give an older home a completely new look and feel. They can turn a dated, drafty living room, into a solid, new construction feel. Some of the benefits of window replacement include:

  • Updated look
  • Increase in home value
  • Sound Reduction
  • Elimination of drafts
  • Energy efficiency – Lower power bills

In addition to these, the latest window designs have multiple functions, including the ability to clean without using ladders, multiple ways for opening for ventilation (such as with European tilt-and-turn windows), and special glass films that reduce UV damage to your furniture, as well as providing extra barriers against heat and cold.

But before you can decide on the window function and type, you have to first decide on the ideal size of your replacement window. There are several factors to consider when choosing window size. 

Here are the two main methods homeowners use to make the ideal window size choice:

Method 1: Stick with the current size. What is the current size of my window? This is likely the easiest choice to go with . . . replacing it with the same exact size. And often, if your house is a tract home built by a developer, chances are many of your windows can be purchased off-the-shelf from home improvement stores. This is the best method for homeowners who are on a budget, prefer DIY, or simply want to find the lowest cost replacement window, but still benefit from the advantages of a new window.

How to measure the size of my window? Measure both the horizontal and vertical distance between your inside window opening. The actual window size will be slightly larger, by approximately ½ to 1 full inch. With the flange, (the part of the window that attaches it to the framing of your house), it will be even larger. Typically the outside will show slightly more correct measurements. Keep in mind that if you are replacing an older metal frame window, with a newer vinyl frame window, the new one will be slightly larger, as newer framing usually has more insulative properties to them, requiring more space. So it is best to assume that you may need to trim some of the opening to be larger. If your framing is wood, this can be done fairly easily by your window installer or window installation company, or handheld oscillating saw.

Method 2: Pick your ideal window type, and adjust the frame and jamb to it. With this option, you may be deciding to focus on the looks of a future replacement window first. This is best for homeowners with higher budgets, who want to have a custom size window, typically larger that what is available off-the-shelf in retail stores. These windows are best purchased through window installation companies. They are custom made for your preferred size. The benefits to having a larger window include more light, and a custom, eye-catching feel. Ideal for fine homes, and large estates that want to take advantage of views. Or even better, tie together  multiple large windows for an impressive statement. (1)

Often in this choice, you have the option to obtain windows with very large glass panes, that provide unobstructed views, and seamless integration with indoors and outdoors. This trend is popular among luxury and custom homes. These windows are difficult for retail stores to carry and handle, which is why they are rare, and associated with homes of class and architectural beauty. 

If you have a smaller home or older home in a tract home development, you can still benefit from installing at least one large custom sized window, which typically is the living room window. All other replacement windows can be standard size. This gives you the best of both worlds.

So ultimately, when deciding to choose a size for your replacement windows, pick one of these two methods, and you will know that you made the right decision for your vision and budget for your house.


About the Author

Mike Cutler is a commentator on modern home design and DIY home improvement projects for energy efficiency. He is especially passionate about ways to turn a house into a home. LinkedIn  Facebook



  1. https://www.bhg.com/decorating/window-treatments/basics/ideas-for-multiple-windows/

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