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Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows: Which is a Better?

Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows: Which is a Better?

When the time comes for the decision between storm windows vs. replacement windows designs, homeowners and architects often disagree with which one is the best choice. Both have their pros and cons. While storm windows may more suit one type of home, replacement windows are better for another one.

Many old-fashioned cottages come with the storm windows and exterior window shutters. The storm windows prevent weather damage and protect the original window. On the other side, if you want a modern home, the replacement windows are ideal for you. They are both stylish and functional. Let’s see.

Storm Windows

The storm windows are installed on the outside as an upgrade of the windows you already have. Their primary purpose is weather protection. Plus, they keep debris, water, and dirt outside your home.

In cold days, the storm windows provide thermal isolation, keep heat inside, and reduce the outside noise. Therefore, they are an excellent investment for houses with old and worn-out windows. Since they are easy to take off, you can install this type of windows for a limited time until you have time to renovate.

The storm windows come in many designs, architecture styles, and colors, so you can easily match them with the rest of your house. Another benefit of the storm windows is that you don’t need exterior window shutters since your home is already protected.

Replacement Windows

Replacement Windows

As their name suggests, replacement windows come on the place of your old windows. If your window gets moldy, doesn’t open and close as it should, or you notice a draft, it is time for the installation of the replacement window.

If the damage to your old windows is significant, you won’t be able to repair them. Even if you can save them, you may find out that the cost exceeds the amount you need to replace them. New replacement windows can solve your problem.

Nowadays, you may choose from various types of glass and frames. The replacement windows offer you numerous benefits from UV protection to energy saving. Depending on your needs, you may decide between double hung over sliding window or single hung window.

How to Choose Between Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows?

When it is time to renovate, you should ask yourself a couple of things:

  • The level of your old windows damage – If you can repair the old windows, maybe the storm windows are a better choice for your home. They will entirely protect the windows they cover.
  • The budget – Replacing the old windows can be costly, especially if you change all of them at once.
  • DIY project – If you want to do the job by yourself, installing the storm windows is much easier than replacing all the windows.

Before you make a final choice between the storm windows vs. replacement windows, you need to know all the differences. Only then is the time to make a plan for your investment. Your decision will depend on whether you need to replace your old windows or install the new storm windows instead.

Storm Window vs. Replacement Window Construction

Basically, there is not a winning argument in the storm windows vs. replacement windows debate. Since each one has its pros and cons, the final decision may be a challenge. One of the crucial differences is construction since manufacturers use one type of glass for the storm and the other for the replacement windows.

Traditionally, the storm windows have wooden or metal frames and ordinary glass or acrylic panels. However, both wooden and metal frames suffer from water damage over the years. The wooden window frame, for example, absorbs moisture over time.

The specific difference between the storm windows vs. replacement windows is that the replacement windows can have a clad frame. It is a huge advantage since you can get a combination of a wood frame inside and vinyl or fiberglass outside. That makes them more resilient and longer-lasting.

Screws or tracking system holds the frame of the storm windows attached to the wall. That allows them to open and close quickly. Plus, you can take them off in summer. The problem is that you need storage space for them during that period.

On the other side, the replacement windows often have a double or triple glass pane. They offer extra energy efficiency due to an argon gas between the panes. You may also choose to invest long term and buy a low emission glass.

Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows Installation

Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows Installation

The storm windows are easy to install. You may decide to do it yourself without too much effort. Besides the storm windows, you need to have a tape measure, caulk gun, drill, and paint. You can also take them off whenever you want.

However, when you decide to replace your old windows, you should call a professional. Replacement windows need to be exact dimensions as your old windows to fit the existing window opening. The whole process takes time, money, and knowledge.

Keep in mind that storm windows vs. replacement windows installation are not the same tasks. It is not a big deal to install the storm windows. Plus, installation costs are low, and you probably need only three to four hours to finish the job.

On the other hand, replacing windows can take days, especially if you don’t have experience with this type of work. Fortunately, replacement windows usually last from 10 to 25 years. Therefore, you may need to go through that process only a few times for your entire life.

Performance of Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows

The replacement windows take the lead when it comes to storm windows vs. replacement window performance. This type of window blocks more UV rays than the storm window, up to 90%. Also, with this window, you can get better noise reduction. However, it depends on the model of the replacement window you choose.

On the other hand, whatever the storm windows you have, there will always be some space between the window and the house itself. That may lead to draft and water damage inside the walls. That gap may also fill with dirt so that you can face the mold problem.

Even though the storm windows protect the windows they cover, they can’t transform the old window in the new one. If mold occurs or the wooden frame swells, the storm window probably won’t help much.

Therefore, you need to replace your window rather than just cover it with the storm window. Most replacement windows come with a warranty from the manufacturer, so you know you are safe for at least ten years.

Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows Cost

Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows Cost

Low cost may be the main reason to install the storm windows. Since you simply add them to the windows you have, your expenses are minimal. You may even avoid the labor costs if you install them by yourself.

Further, the variety of storm windows on the market works for you. Even though both wooden and PVC storm window frames are not cheap, you will save a lot since the replacement windows can cost you thousands of dollars.

The replacement window costs depend on many factors, including the type of glass, glazing, and window frame material. Plus, if you want low emission glass, which reflects heat in the room, you should be aware that it is one of the most expensive options you have.

Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows Maintenance

When you compare the storm windows vs. replacement windows maintenance, you may notice that the storm windows require much more attention. At least once a year, you need to take them off, check for potential damage, and paint them.

Moreover, the glass on the storm windows will be regularly dirty since all the dust, debris, and rain ends on it. The gap between the window attached to the house and the storm window is another perfect place for waste, and you need to clean it often.

Plus, it is necessary to protect screws with oil from time to time to avoid the problem with rust.

On the other hand, the replacement windows require low maintenance. Other than regular dust removes, you won’t need to take care of them. Plus, the color of the replacement windows doesn’t fade on the sun, so you don’t need to paint them.

Further, the replacement windows stay in place for years. The only reason to take off the replacement window is to change it for a new one. To protect the replacement windows from debris wind can bring, you should install the external window shades. Also, you can use them to limit the sunlight if it is too bright.


Many factors can affect your choice between the storm windows vs. replacement windows. Both of them come in many designs, sizes, and materials, so you can customize them as you want.

Therefore, one choice isn’t better than the other one. What you need to be clear about are your needs, your budget, and the current condition of the windows of your house. These are reasons to pick out the winner in the storm window vs. replacement windows duel.


Friday 18th of February 2022

Thank you so much for this content on what is the difference between storm windows vs replacement windows! I love it!

Taylor Hansen

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

It's good to know that storm windows are easy to install and can be taken off whenever. I'm thinking about installing storm windows on our house since it's our first summer living in Florida. Thanks for the tips and I'll have to research for the best kind of storm windows that we can have installed on our house.