Blog > Category Post > Posted: 2021-Feb-18, Updated: 2021-Feb-23

Full-frame versus pocket window installation

When considering window replacement, there are two types of installations to consider. And of course, there are pros & cons to each. Which solution is best for you?

When it comes to window replacement, there are so many options to consider. In this article, we are going to discuss full-frame window installation vs pocket window installation.

Full-frame window installation

A full-frame window replacement is the complete removal of a window and frame right down to the STUDS and the installation of the new window in the opening. This is a typical procedure used by most window replacement services, it ensures that any old hidden issues or poor installation practices are revealed and that the ensuing replacement of the complete frame and window is done correctly. A full-Frame replacement window solution will assist in mitigating the potential negative impact on your home for years to come.

PROS - full-frame window installation

  • The best option for window frames that are severely deteriorating.
  • Newer window sashes and frames can be thinner taking up less room and allowing more light in.
  • Window openings can be enlarged - allowing for the expansion of the window frame - more light, more visibility.
  • Vast selection of customization alternatives on the interior and exterior of the home - including colours, textures, hardware, faux wood grains.
  • Better energy efficiency
  • Full window and frame warranty.
  • Contemporary and modern brick mold solutions to suit the style of your home.

CONS - full-frame window installation

  • May change the original look and styling of the old windows.
  • More costly than pocket installation.
  • Requires more material, more work, and more time than pocket installation.

Pocket window installation

A pocket installation (also known as an insert window installation) requires keeping the existing window frame/sills and inserting a full window/sash and window frame in the opening. Although in some cases this may provide a cost saving, this practice is usually only done if the existing outside/inside window frame/trim/siding is uniquely special and replacing it would upset the styling character and aesthetics of the home.

In order to perform a pocket replacement, the window sash (with panes), tracks and stops will need to be removed right down to the window FRAME. A successful pocket window installation requires that the existing window frame be square, plum and level. It must also be free of rot and in good condition. Special installation steps will need to be performed in order to ensure the window is installed to today’s standards.

PROS - pocket window installation

  • Easier to install than the full-frame option - less time, material and labour.
  • Involves minimal dismantling of the existing installation.
  • May cost less than a full-frame window installation - if you are considering pocket window installation in hopes to save a little money, be sure to ask for a quote for both pocket and full-frame installation, sometimes the savings are just not worth it.
  • Keeps the style, authenticity and craftsmanship of the original window frame.

CONS - pocket window installation

  • Older windows often do not meet more recent installation developments.
  • A smaller frame opening means less light and visibility.
  • The window frame must be level, plumb and undamaged, you don’t always know what issues may be lurking inside the frame.
  • Warranty coverage will not include the frame and could reduce coverage for replacement windows.
  • Not as energy-efficient.


One of the most important, and often elusive details to consider when replacing existing windows, are the issues that exist underneath the surface of what you can actually see. A window may operate and seem to be in good working order but whats beneath? A deteriorating and rotten frame, an absence of insulation, trapped moisture, mold or even insects that have found their way inside through a loose exterior seal.

Windows are exposed to both internal and external elements - deficiencies can easily wreak havoc on the integrity of your windows and dramatically lowering window performance and durability. Insulation creates a barrier to keep air from entering or escaping you home - too much insulation can impede the natural expansion and contraction during extreme temperatures which can cause warping, misalignment and ease of operation. Too little, and you’ve got potential for condensation moisture buildups, cracked caulking and drafts.

A word of caution

In most cases, a full-frame installation is the best solution for window replacement. If your home is not over 30 years old, be wary of consultants that recommend pocket window installation as a solution. Unless you have a solid wood frame, replacing only the sash and glass may not give you the energy efficiency you may be looking for, as the frame will not be up to today’s standards.

Got more questions?

If you would like to know more about whether full-frame or pocket window replacement is right for you, give us a call or send us a request for more information. We’d be happy to address all of your questions or concerns. Contact Us.