Should You Replace All the Windows in Your House at Once?

I was recently talking to a very friendly and capable reporter for a window industry trade magazine (yes that’s a thing) about partial projects.  That’s the term for projects that include some, but not all of the windows in the house.  You can read his article with some pithy quotes from yours truly, but the conversation got me thinking that this is a topic our readers are probably interested in.

It happens pretty frequently that people will want to only replace a handful of windows that have a specific issue and leave the rest for later.  Is this the best strategy?  As with most philosophical questions, the answer is “it depends”.

Replace some of your windows now and some later
Mismatched windows can be a style choice for some. Ha!

Before we get into the meat of this topic I’ll suggest that if you’re considering a partial project because of the cost you may want to make sure you’re talking to the type of company that offers fair and reasonable pricing.

We frequently hear from folks who think they can only afford 5 windows due to an astronomical quote they received from an old fashioned high-pressure company.  Companies like ours will offer much more reasonable prices so the customer who thought they could only afford a handful of windows might be able to afford the whole house.

When should you only replace some of your windows?

Folks typically want to do this when they have an acute problem with some of their windows.  Maybe they have seal failures causing foggy or cloudy glass or windows that don’t operate properly.  Sometimes folks do this because one room or area of the house gets very cold in the winter or hot in the summer.

This can be a great strategy, but you’ll want to consider the risks.

What could go wrong when replacing only some of your windows?

First, you’ll want to understand the costs of your project and how the cost will vary based on the size of the project.

For example, in most of our stores you get the best labor pricing when you order at least 5 windows.  The windows cost what they cost, but the labor costs more on a small project.  The per window price is then the same for projects between 5 and 200 windows.  That means if you replace all of the windows except one and then you decide to do the one remaining window later it’ll cost a little more.

In fact, just today I got a text from one of our field reps who was working with a customer for whom we had just completed a $15,000 project.  That customer wanted to replace two more windows and he was upset that they would cost more.

The answer is that’s just how it works.  Replacing one or two windows just costs more on a per window basis than replacing 20 windows.  I’m never happy to have a customer who is not feeling great, but we need to pay the installers for their work or they won’t stick around.  If we want great quality results we pay for great quality team members and that costs a couple bucks.

If this customer had split up the projects into groups of 5 or more he would have been a happier camper.  I asked our rep why he didn’t suggest that and it turns out the customer was planning on closing up those windows and has since changed his mind.  It sounds like a situation where there wasn’t much we could have done and ultimately the last 2 windows are going to cost a little more.  Sometimes that’s just life, but if you’re thinking about a partial project this is something to consider.

Will you be happy if the windows look different?

Another factor to consider when replacing some of your windows is that they’ll look, operate, and feel different than your old windows.  You’ll have some that are new and pretty and efficient and some that are not.

That might bug me as I like things to match and feel the same.  You might not care about that, but you want to be aware of it.

partial window project
Here’s an unusual look. If I had been working with this customer I would have suggested replacing both sides of this window.

It’s also possible that the window manufacturer makes a change to the model so your plan of buying some windows now and some later will result in them being similar, but not quite the same.  This is not a big deal to a lot of people, but you’ll want to consider how you’ll feel about it before making that choice.

What about the hassle factor?

It’s also important to remember that any home improvement project can contain a little bit of hassle.  I know in our company we try to make the process as simple as possible, but we’re going to need to make at least two trips to your house (one to measure and one to install).  There may even be a service call needed.  That’s 2-3 visits to your house.

If you replace all the windows at the same time you’ll then be done. If you split up the project into two phases you’ll be looking at 4-6 visits.  That’s not the end of the world, but those are days that you could spend doing something a little more fun (edit: don’t get me wrong, windows are pretty fun!)

So what should I do if I’m considering a partial window project?

First, check with the company to see what the pricing will look like if you do part of the project now and part later vs doing it all now.  A company probably can’t guarantee what the pricing will look like in a year or two, but they can give you an idea.

Next, consider how you’ll feel if there was a style change and the windows can’t match exactly.  You can also ask the company if they’re aware of any upcoming change or if there have been any recent changes.

Then, look at financing options.  Many companies offer 0% financing that might make the project a little more affordable than you imagined.

So what’s the bottom line?

Ultimately only you can decide if replacing some of your windows is better than replacing all of your windows.  I know many of our customers decide on partial projects for a variety of reasons and ultimately it makes no difference to us.  If you’d prefer to do some windows now and some later we’d love to have that business.  I just want to make sure that you know the pros and cons so you can make the best decision for you.

If you’re looking for more info on replacement windows you can check out our list of common window sales tactics here and you can find our detailed replacement window reviews here.

If you have any questions or comments about this article post a comment below and I’ll do my best to get back with you.  Have fun out there!

Update: We now have more recommend LOCAL window companies than ever before.   Click here to see who we recommend in your town.  It's 100% free.  You'll thank me.  There is no better resource; you're going to love it.  See for yourself right here.  

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