Window Replacement or Window Glass Replacement: What’s Best?

January 11th, 2021

No matter how beautiful or sturdy your windows, they’ll eventually get damaged. From high winds propelling debris to stray balls, there are many potential sources.

But should you replace the entire window or just the glass? Here we explore the differences between glass replacement and glass repair.

Replacing Glass or the Entire Window: What Should You Do?

Replacing an entire window can be costly and time-consuming. So it’s natural to put off the idea and consider replacing just the pane instead. In many cases, this is a sensible option, but sometimes window replacement is necessary.

Here, we discuss some of the most common window problems to help you decide if replacing the window is better than simply replacing the glass.



1. Broken Window Pane

The most common and glaring instance of window damage is a broken or cracked window pane. Abrasive cleaners, stray baseballs, hail and temperature fluctuations can all cause such damage, but whether it’s a small chip or major crack, you need to fix it immediately.

If it’s just damaged glass, you probably don’t need to replace your entire window. A quicker and more affordable option is to replace the pane with clear, heat-retaining, insulated glass units (IGUs). With an IGU replacement, the broken pane is removed; the frame, if required, is cleaned up; and the IGU is inserted and sealed into place.

Note: single-pane glass replacement is a cheaper option.

2. Foggy Windows

Streaking, fogginess, and condensation are common problems for double- and triple-pane windows. This happens when the seals between the panes have worn out enough to allow in moisture. Typically, these spaces are filled with argon or another inert gas for additional insulation. This loss of energy efficiency can increase your utility bills. Luckily, it can be fixed with a simple glass replacement, which is quicker and more economical than changing the entire window.

3. Drafty Windows

Should you replace the entire window or just the pane that’s letting in a draft? While you can always replace the glass, it’s sometimes better to upgrade your windows instead.

In order to know your options, it’s important to figure out the exact reason behind your drafty windows. They’re usually caused by one or more of the following factors:

  • Cracked or peeled caulking (a sign that it’s time for maintenance)
  • Old weather stripping (common with older homes in extreme climates)
  • Loosened sashes (typically caused by repeated usage)
  • Wood rot (the result of moisture accumulation)

The first problem can be easily fixed with a fresh application of caulk along the gaps; the other three indicate serious damage that requires complete window replacement. If the sashes are old and loose, the cost to replace them could be equal to that of the total window replacement. In such a case, the latter is a more sensible option.

Whether you’re looking to replace just your window pane or the entire window, it’s always advisable to hire professional installers. Doing the work yourself may result in improper installation, causing further problems. With timely replacements and repairs, you can keep your windows structurally sound for years to come.