Here’s Why You Should Replace All Your Windows at Once

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Updated January 6, 2022
Couple smiles near open windows.
Photo: Cavan Images / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • You don’t have to replace all your windows at once, but doing so will save you money in the long term.

  • You should avoid replacing fewer than five to eight windows in one job.

  • If you only need to replace one or two windows, hire a handy person rather than a window company.

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Window replacement is a big job—one with a hefty price tag and major influence on the look and feel of your home. Whether it’s because you’re facing an issue with one particular window or because you hope to save money, it’s often better to replace all your windows at once, rather than opting for just one or two fixes. Here’s why.

Signs You Should Replace Your Windows

Assuming they are properly installed, windows last a long time—most frames have a lifespan between 20 and 50 years. Precisely how long will depend on a number of factors, particularly the weather in your area—but in most cases, you don’t need to worry about replacing them until you start to experience problems, or if you wish to enhance the energy efficiency of your house or freshen up the look. 

Common signs of failing windows include fogginess from moisture in the glazing (indicating that the seal has failed), draftiness and increasing energy bills, and warped frames that are difficult to open and close. If the glass is broken, you don’t need to replace the window but simply have it reglazed by a local window glass replacement company. Likewise, you can hire a professional window screen professional for screen fixes.

Should You Replace All Your Windows at Once?

Man seals window frame
Photo: galitskaya / Getty Images

In many cases, there are good reasons to replace all your windows at once. If your primary motivation is to increase curb appeal, for example, or energy efficiency, a universal set of window replacements is necessary to achieve the full effect. 

Replacing all the windows at the same time is also the only way to ensure that all the windows in your home operate the same way and achieve a uniform appearance. Window manufacturers often update or phase out their models, so staggering the replacement might mean that the model you used in the first phase is no longer available during the last. It also minimizes the time your home is under construction, thus limiting the hassle associated with major home improvement jobs.

If you can afford one big job, replacing all the windows simultaneously will also save you money in the long term, since the price of windows and installation labor are on the rise.   

It’s not unusual, however, for homeowners to replace fewer than all their windows—or to install replacement windows throughout the home in separate phases—and some window replacement installers will take partial jobs. But under most circumstances, you want to avoid installing too few windows at once, since under a certain threshold the labor costs will be significantly higher per window on small jobs.

Depending on the company, you’ll want to install no fewer than five to eight windows at minimum—and at least 10 to get the full cost savings. This is because most window replacement installers will bid a flat rate for a job, and their overhead remains the same for a full day or two hours of work. Expect to pay a total between $300 and $2,100 per window, depending on window frame material, size, and glass type.

When You Only Need To Replace One or Two Windows

While it’s best to avoid replacing fewer than five windows at once, there are of course circumstances in which that’s the only option. Maybe you got overzealous with your living room redecoration and painted one shut—or you’re dealing with acute problems in one or two windows that need to be addressed immediately, but you can’t afford a bigger project. 

Many window companies won’t take that small job, though, and those that do will charge hefty labor costs. If you find yourself in this position, hire a local handyperson to do the replacement install instead.  

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