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When replacing wood windows of a brick house do you just insert them into the old frame or do you gut the frame out and replace the whole thing?

What are the pros and cons of each method?

Edit: I have double hang windows at the moment and the replacement would be the same type. FWIS, I've been looking at different materials and would probably go with fiberglass rather than vinyl or wood.

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What style of window do you have? Casement, sash etc. – ChrisF Dec 27 '10 at 20:56
Doublehang (I updated the question as well) – kmt Dec 27 '10 at 21:03

If you're thinking of changing materials then it would probably be better to replace the whole window, frame and all. I'm not sure how well fibreglass would slide against the (painted) wood.

If you just want to replace the moving parts then it's certainly possible, but you need to make sure that the thickness of the windows match. There are companies in the UK that offer a sash window renovation service - when I last checked some of them did offer this.

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I would probably lean in the direction of a replacement style window into the existing frame.

Pros - Easier to get consistent measurement for existing framing vs the variations with a brick opening. Easier to secure the window into existing wooden frame vs anchoring into brick. If the existing frame already has a water/air tight fit against the brick, easier to seal the gap between replacement window and framing.

Cons - You will lose a couple of inches in the window size due to existing framing. The existing frame may need repairs for weathering or wood rot. You might have to redo flashing/trim on the outside of the window to hide the new frame.

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