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Custom Replacement Windows vs In-Stock Windows

When renovating or upgrading your home, choosing the right type of window is crucial. Before you embark on window shopping at your local home improvement store—pun intended—you might want to first learn about the differences between custom-ordered replacement windows and in-stock windows from big box stores.

Custom Ordered Replacement Windows

Personalization: Custom windows are tailored to the exact specifications of your home. They offer the perfect fit, which is particularly beneficial for homes with unique window sizes or designs.

Installation Efficiency: Custom replacement windows can be installed quickly as they are built to fit your existing window openings precisely. This tailored approach can reduce the time and effort required for installation​​.

Cost Considerations: These windows usually cost more due to their customized nature. However, as mentioned in the previous point, the less intrusive installation should offset some of the overall cost.

Waiting Time: One downside is the waiting period. Since custom replacement windows are made to order, there’s usually a longer lead time compared to in-stock options​​, unless of course, they’re out of stock.

Custom replacement windows being manufactured.
Custom replacement windows are made to order, ensuring a perfect fit.

In-Stock Windows at Home Improvement Stores

Cost-Effectiveness: Windows readily available at stores are generally more budget-friendly. They are mass-produced, which significantly reduces their cost.

Availability and Convenience: These windows are readily available, making them a convenient option if you need standard sized windows.

Limited Customization: The major drawback of in-stock windows is their limited range of sizes and styles. This can be a significant issue for homes that require specific dimensions or aesthetic considerations​​.

Installation Factors: In-stock windows may need additional adjustments during installation to ensure a proper fit. Additionally, many windows found at big box stores come with nailing fins, typically used for new constructions or major renovations where there is access to studs and sheathing. Both of these factors could potentially increase labor costs and installation time​​.

Standard sized window used in new construction.
Standard sized windows found in-stock at big box stores is a cost-effective option for new builds and major remodelling.


  1. Customization: Custom windows offer a high level of personalization, catering to specific architectural styles and sizes, while in-stock options are limited in this respect.
  2. Cost: In-stock windows are more affordable initially, but custom windows can be a better long-term investment due to their precise fit and potential energy savings.
  3. Availability: Custom windows require a longer wait time, whereas in-stock windows are immediately accessible.
  4. Installation: Custom windows may be quicker and easier to install due to their tailored fit, while in-stock windows might need more adjustment work.


When deciding between custom-ordered replacement windows and in-stock options from home improvement centres, consider your individual needs and the specific requirements of your home. Custom windows offer unmatched personalization, a perfect fit, and efficient installation, making them ideal for specific design needs and a quick upgrade. In contrast, in-stock windows provide immediate availability and cost-effectiveness in scenarios where standard sized windows are needed, and access to studs and sheathing is available. Remember, consulting with window professionals can provide valuable insights tailored to your situation. If you live in Regina, you can give us a call or come down to our store, we’d be more than happy to help.


Difference Between Retrofit and Full-Frame Window Installation

Retrofit installation, also known as replacement window installation, involves replacing the window within the existing frame and is ideal when the frame is still in good condition. It’s a less invasive method, often more cost-effective and quicker than full-frame installation. Full-frame installation, often referred to as new construction windows, requires the removal of the entire window, including the frame and trim. This method is necessary for extensive renovations, if there’s significant frame damage, or when changing the window style or size, though it is more labor-intensive and usually more expensive.

Lifespan of Replacement Windows

The lifespan of replacement windows typically ranges from 15 to 30 years, depending on factors like material, build quality, and maintenance. Vinyl windows usually last longer, providing up to 30 years of service with minimal maintenance, while wood windows, despite their aesthetic appeal, might require more upkeep to extend their life.

Energy Efficiency of In-Stock Windows

In-stock windows available at big box stores are often designed with energy efficiency in mind, featuring double glazing and low-E coatings. While they can offer substantial energy savings, their efficiency might not be as high as custom-ordered windows, which provide the opportunity for more precise fitting and specific energy-saving features tailored to individual needs.

Feasibility of DIY Installation for Replacement Windows

DIY installation of replacement windows can be appealing, especially for those experienced in home improvement projects. While installing in-stock windows yourself is often more straightforward due to their standard sizes, it’s important to consider the warranty implications. Many window manufacturers require installation by a certified professional for the warranty to remain valid. Improper installation can lead to issues such as leaks or reduced efficiency, which could affect the warranty.