How Long Does Window Replacement Take? A Guide for Homeowners

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated November 9, 2021
woman at home looking out the window
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Don’t let the unpredictable timeline of a window replacement shatter you—it’s well worth the wait

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  • A window replacement can take four to 15 weeks after the initial evaluation

  • The physical installation can take as little as 30–60 minutes per window

  • A skilled contractor can replace 10–15 windows per day

  • Labor for replacement windows generally costs $40 per hour

  • The timeline is affected by things like accessibility, complexity, and materials

Windows are an essential component of every home. After all, how else will you know when the Amazon delivery driver is arriving? But what happens when you need a replacement window? How long does it take to install a window in your home? Learn what timeline you can expect for this beneficial home improvement project.

How Long Does It Take to Install a Replacement Window?

Replacing an old window with a new window isn’t always a complicated job. It can take as little as 30 to 60 minutes for a basic window replacement. That number can jump to one or two days if you’re replacing numerous, large custom windows. Skilled window installers will be able to replace 10 to 15 windows per day.

Despite the ease of the job, the timeline for a window replacement is actually pretty long. This is because your contractor will have to order the replacement windows. Custom windows take longer because they’re specially manufactured. But in general, it can take anywhere from four weeks to 15 weeks to complete the job from the time you hire a window replacement contractor and get your initial evaluation. 

Don’t let the timeline discourage you. Most homeowners find the wait well worth it. Fixing a drafty window and adding insulation (like double-glazing) can reduce your energy costs year-round. In this case, your savings will last a lot longer than your wait.

Factors Affecting the Timeline of a Window Installation

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The time it takes an installer to complete a window replacement isn’t always cut and dry. Though the basic replacement can take under an hour, other factors influence the overall timeline.

Complexity of the Job

Sometimes, a homeowner only needs to replace a single pane of broken glass. Other times, they’ll need to install a whole home’s worth of double glazed windows. The more windows, the more panes of glass, and the bigger the size, the longer the job is going to take—especially if the windows are custom and have to be specially ordered.

Retrofit vs. Full Frame Installation

There are two types of window replacements: Retrofit installation and full frame installation. Retrofit insulation is faster and less expensive. The window installer will replace your window by fitting it into an existing window opening. They won’t have to remove part of your home’s exterior. 

Full frame installation is more involved. It takes much longer, and is usually only used for old windows that are severely deteriorating (though, it can be a great way to improve your home’s energy efficiency). This involves replacing every part of the window, including materials in and around the window like studs, brock molding and the frame.

Accessibility

It takes more time to install windows that aren’t readily accessible—whether they’re blocked by plants or heavy furniture or are a few stories up.

Material

The materials your window and home’s exterior are made from can influence your project's timeline. For example, wood windows may take longer to install than vinyl windows because they need to be sanded, primed, and painted. Similarly, the mortar between bricks needs time to dry.

Manufacturer

Is your manufacturer local or do they have to ship your windows? This can add significant length to the project. Some manufacturers and shipping carriers are facing unusual delays as the supply chain recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, you might see wait times as long as 15 weeks.

Homeowners' Association Rules

While window repairs likely need a permit, a homeowner may also have to get permission from their local homeowners' association. It can take months for a particularly slow homeowners' association to approve a job.

Should I Replace My Windows?

dog standing looking out the window
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You only really need to replace windows when they break, start to rot, or lose their insulation value. That doesn’t mean you can’t replace your windows for other reasons.

You might want to consider a window replacement for the following reasons:

Better Insulation

Better insulation (whether it’s through low-E coatings, double panes, or other means) increases your energy efficiency and saves you money on utility bills.

A Different Opening Style

Options like fixed or awning-style windows increase energy efficiency by reducing air leakage, but sliders are more common.

A New Type of Frame

Both vinyl and wood are the most popular options for homes, but wood requires more maintenance. Metal frames are the strongest but provide less insulation.

Additional Window Glazing

Older homes typically have windows made out of a single pane of glass. Replacing those with double—or even triple—panes of glass can increase thermal performance and provide some level of soundproofing (which may be a sigh of relief for homeowners living on busy streets).

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Window?

Time is money, and the longer a window replacement takes, the more you’re going to be paying in labor costs. On average, homeowners pay $40 per hour for an installer, according to HomeAdvisor, with most window replacements costing around $850 per window

That price can quickly skyrocket as the job gets more complex (think: swapping out a retrofitted bungalow window versus numerous new windows in a penthouse).

FAQs About Window Replacement

Is a window replacement worth the cost?

If your windows are older and significantly damaged, a window replacement can actually save you money in the long term by improving energy efficiency. If your windows aren’t up to code, you may not really have a choice.

Can I replace my own window?

In some cases, you might need a permit for a window replacement, which is hard to get if you’re not a professional contractor. You may also want to consider hiring a window replacement company in your area because the job is complicated. 

You probably wouldn’t even save any money doing it yourself because contractors purchase materials wholesale.

How much does it cost to only replace the window glass?

Replacing a glass pane is much less expensive than replacing your entire window. The average homeowner will pay between $180 to $400 to replace a glass window pane.

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