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Question DetailsAsked on 7/3/2013

Can I have a contractor replace rotted wood around my window or do I have to have the window replaced?

My house was built in 1992 and some of the wood on the base of two of my front windows has wood rot. I have been told by two companies to replace the entire window...estimates have ranged as high as $20,000.

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2 Answers


Are the windows themselves wood? If so you probably will be better off with new windows. Even that seems high for 2 windows unless you have customized/specialty windows but I can't imagine what you'd have that will cost that much. An entire house worth of windows, sure, but for only 2, no.

If the windows are aluminum or vinyl (more likely) they may have to be removed to have rotten framing replaces and then reinstalled. In this case you might consider replacing the windows for more efficient units but that isn't necessary required. If it is just the trim that is rotten the windows don't need to be removed at all.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 7 years ago by Todd's Home Services


As usual, Todd Shell's advice is on the mark.

If wood trim on a metal, vinyl or fiberglass window probably VERY easy to fix - usually the only wood on them is just facade pieces nailed on after the window is in place - so just a matter of pulling themm off, priming and painting new ones, putting them after dry, and putting on a second finish coat of trim paint.

If all-wood frame (except for the metal insert actually holding the glass): If you are talking the window sill or ledger below the window, those can fairly easily be replaced without taking out the window. If only the front portion is rotten, it may be possible to just cut that off and splice on a replacement front piece - maybe an hour or two work. If full replacement of sill piece is necessary - while this would be a one-hour job max in new construction with the window unit out, but since care has to be taken in getting it out in-place without damaging the window unit itself, I would estimate probably 6 hours for 2 windows, including pre-priming and painting the wood and coming back another day for a second coat. Might well take only about 3 hours. Probably about $50 materials - wood casing material and paint.

Even if rot has gotten beyond the sill and into the stile (vertical side piece), unless it is real bad the outer casing on the window can commonly be replaced, though that does mean removing the window unit - so a 6-8 hour estimate might apply there, plus maybe $50-100 in materials. If it got into the wood siding a bit, you can consider cutting back the damaged area if it is not wide and replacing it with a wide accent wood trim, making sure ice and watershield, flashing and caulking are done properly around and behind the expanded window area.

A finish carpenter or window installation company should be able to do the job for you. I don't know that I would trust a handyman with this - if he breaks the window seal or glass you could be into unnecessarily big bucks, assuming these are typical living room type windows. Labor cost probably about $50-125/hour, usually about $75.

A new pair of windows does not cost $20,000 - someone is trying to rip you off - even whole-house window replacement very rarely gets that high for a normal sized house - and that with triple-pane high-efficiency units. Normal size house full-window replacement typically runs $3-8,000.

Relevant to your case - we just had a neighbor put in a new front window unit - about 5' highx6' wide main glass plus two integral about 1x5 foot opening casement sidelights for total about 9' wide x 7' high outer frame dimension onthe full unit - under $3000 installed and matching trim prepainted, and this is a very high cost area.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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