Where to Buy DIY Replacement Windows

Do It Yourself Window Replacement
Do It Yourself Window Replacement. Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

Looking to buy your own do-it-yourself (DIY) replacement windows?  Not a bad idea!

New windows can cut energy costs--somewhat.  No matter what the replacement window company claims, new windows are mainly about comfort and looks, not recouping the cost of windows via energy-saving.  

Absent that, you need to start thinking of other ways to shave replacement window costs.  Self-installation is potentially one way to bring down that bill.

1. Window E-Store

Based in Austin, Texas, Window E-Store is making serious inroads in getting replacements out to homeowners.

Owner Derek Baker began the site as an ordering tool for his contractor clients. Then he discovered homeowners coming onto the site and using the tool. Now, among other things, Window E-Store sells replacement windows to homeowners in 38 states. Their windows are all made in factories in California, West Virginia, and Illinois.

Window E-Store's ordering system is smooth.  Check off your option (options are identified with both text and images) and the order form automatically opens to the next option. When you get down far enough, a running cost total appears on the right side. The only part to manually enter is the window dimensions.

Example:

Ten Lite Slider White replacement windows, each 36 wide by 24 high will cost about $2,653, including a $150 home delivery charge.

Cost per window is about $265

Home delivery is optional. You can avoid the charge by picking up your windows at the nearest distribution center.

Getting cold feet on DIY installation? Window E-Store provides a list of certified installers in your area. Labor costs run around $80 to $150 per window. The important thing is: You get to make the choice; you are not railroaded into buying labor from only one source.

2. Buy From a Home Improvement Store

You can buy replacement windows from The Home Depot, Menards, Lowe's, and many of those big box stores and install them yourself.

Most sales associates will not know what you are talking about if you bring up the issue.  Instead, purchase through the online site.

Example:

Home Depot carries some American Craftsman replacement windows on special order (American Craftsman is a subsidiary of Andersen).  Home shipping is currently free.

Window frame colors are limited to white only.  Styles:  double-hung and slider. 

Cost for ten 36 in. x 24 in. 70 Series Slider in white vinyl is about $1,070.

This works out to a per-window cost of about $107.

Size choice is very limited.  In fact, Home Depot will not even sell many of the larger sizes that it advertises on its site.

To find, search for "replacement window" on the Home Depot site, avoiding their replacement window program or products that state that a nailing fin is included.

Why Are DIY Replacements So Difficult To Buy?

Few replacement windows are divorced from the purchase-install sales track.  What is happening?

Industry Conventions:  How Money Is Made

One inspired way to maximize profit is to lock homeowners into an inescapable track where materials cost is tied to labor cost.  

Simply put, if you want Pella, Andersen, Milgard, Jeld-Wen (or other brand) replacements, you are bound to purchase them as part of an installation contract, as well.

 

Conspiracy or not?  It depends on your opinion.  But the next two points are inarguable:

Precise Sizing:  House First, Window Second

When you walk into a Home Depot store, you see windows on the shelves, ready for immediate purchase.  This is a new-construction window.  It is meant for new structures (mostly additions, bump-outs, or entirely new homes) and it has integrated fins for nailing against a house.  

replacement window is a different product and has no fins. It fits directly into an existing opening from which the previous window has been removed.  

The crucial point is that, with new-construction windows, the opening in the side of the house is constructed around the size of the window.  With replacements, the window is ordered "to size" so that it can match the size of an existing opening.