Should You Replace Windows or Siding First? Or Both At Once?

So you’ve got some budget saved up to finally do some intense home renovations. Only issue is… there’s only enough for one big project. Not two.

Deciding on which home renovation project to do can be a big and daunting task. What if you select the wrong one? What if you replace your windows but realize that your siding needed the work instead?

Do not fear. In this article, we’ll discuss when the right time is to replace windows first, the right time to replace siding first, and when it’s best to save up some more money to replace both at once.

The easy answer is that most of the time, replacing windows first almost always will be the better investment. However, there are some situations where siding should go first. We’ll discuss that later.

When to Replace Windows First

new vinyl windows

A full house window replacement is a big project that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Not to mention, you also have contractors coming in and out of your home for 3-5 days making a ton of noise as they work.

So when do you replace windows first? A good rule of thumb is that if you can only do one project (between windows and siding), the first project will be windows.

Broken Windows Need Immediate Attention

If your window frames are warped or broken, your windows need to be replaced first. This can cause many problems such as moisture penetration, which can lead to mold and mildew in your home.

You’ll probably start to see condensation in your home and between your window panes if you have double-pane windows. A little condensation isn’t a big deal, but a lot of it over time can cause serious damage to your home.

Here’s a guide on how to prevent condensation. If none of these are working, then you might want to get a professional consult from a window contractor.

Replacing Windows Cuts Into Siding

When you get a window replacement, the contractors need to cut away parts of the siding to install the new windows, especially if there are unexpected issues that may arise during the installation process.

Sometimes, older windows may have been installed using different methods. This can make things more complicated for your window contractors to properly measure and install the windows.

New windows get installed with a moisture barrier around the windows that goes underneath the siding. Your contractors need to cut into the siding to make sure that the moisture barrier is in the right place.

If this barrier isn’t installed properly, you could see moisture damage in the next coming years due to leaks through your windows.

If you had new siding, watching the contractors cut into it would be gut-wrenching.

Window Capping Replacements After a Siding Installation

Your windows have capping, or cladding, on it that prevents water from penetrating your windows. You can read more about window capping if you’re interested in learning more.

Basically, it’s a water-resistant material, such as vinyl or aluminum, that protects your wooden windows from rotting. If you don’t have wooden windows, then you don’t need to worry about this.

Anyways, this window capping needs to be removed when replacing your siding. Afterwards, your siding contractors will replace them, so it won’t be an additional cost for you.

However, if you do windows after siding, then you need to replace the window capping, which does cost more.

New Windows Gives You More Benefits than Siding

Maybe you want to replace your windows and siding because of the energy efficiency benefits. If you’re stuck between one choice or the other, replacing your windows will be the better investment.

You’ll get the added benefits of better insulation, reduced condensation, better noise reduction, and more. Plus, your home will look so much better with new clear windows to look at.

New siding also comes with some energy saving benefits, but these aren’t as great as windows.

Working Windows is a Legal Requirement

If your windows are not working properly, meaning that they don’t open and close easily, then your windows need to be replaced.

This is a hazard if you do have an emergency where you and your family need to evacuate your home through a window. There are legal requirements called “egress requirements” that state that each room in your home needs to have a working window or door that can lead directly to the outside in case of emergencies.

New Windows are Installed First in Simultaneous Projects Anyways

If you ever do windows and siding at the same time in one project, you’ll notice that the contractors will do the windows first anyways.

First the siding around the window gets removed, then the old window itself gets removed.

After the new windows are done, then the window caps are installed.

When to Replace Siding First

house siding
Image via Canva.com

So if new windows give you more benefits than new siding, when would be the right time to choose to replace siding first?

Damaged Siding

If your siding has gone through some extreme weather situations and is clearly damaged, replacing your siding first would make sense.

If you have large holes, cracks, or damaged pieces, replacing the siding at all once will end up saving you more money than just doing small bits and pieces here and there.

Having holes in your siding invites pests and other unwanted animals, which can lead to more problems down the line.

Rotting or Molding in Your Siding

Another sign to replace your siding first is if you see any rotting or molding in your siding. This can spread and cause further damage to your home, so it needs to be addressed immediately.

It’s not only your home that we’re worried about, it can also affect your breathing and cause health problems too. It’s best to protect your family from medical issues if you can help it.

When to Replace Both at Once

Most contractors and professionals will recommend doing both upgrades at once. Doing both at once allows the contractors to get a holistic view of the situation in your home and act accordingly. If you have one project done first and then the other done later, there might be some missing knowledge lost somewhere.

It also can save you a lot of money because you’re working with one company one time, which reduces the labor and warranty costs.

Better Energy Efficiency

Both new windows and new siding have an effect on the energy efficiency of your home. If you replace only your windows, your windows will be much better at insulating your home from heat and cold. However, your electricity bill might not budge much because you’re still having issues with your siding.

Lower your energy bills requires more than just one aspect of your home getting optimized. You need to consider the overall insulation of your home, and this includes windows and siding.

If You Have No Immediate Issues

If you’re wanting to renovate your home because you want an upgrade or believe that it’s time for a change to the home’s aesthetics, it makes sense to save up more money, especially if there are no concerns.

Doing both projects at once saves you a lot of money. Many times, professional home contractors do both siding and windows. You get the benefit of paying for labor once and buying all of your materials from one place.

You also only have to get estimates once, sign a single contract, and then have one week of work done instead of a week here and then a week there.

Is Siding or Window Replacement Cheaper?

If you’re considering a big home renovation project, it helps to have an approximate budget for it.

Which one is more expensive: siding or windows?

The answer depends on the features that you want, but usually a full house siding replacement will cost more than a full house window replacement.

For reference, replacing 10 windows with vinyl double-hung low E glass costs approximately $6,000. Replacing a 2600 sq. ft. house with vinyl will cost approximately $10,000.

Vinyl is also the most affordable option for siding. Fiber cement, which is much more popular now, would have approximately cost $30,000* for a 2600 sq. ft. home.

Cost approximations are done using Modernize.com’s cost calculators.

Windows is a cheaper home improvement project to do, compared to a siding replacement. It depends on your home, of course. Maybe your home has 30+ windows instead of 10. That would change the situation drastically.

That’s why it always makes sense to get multiple estimates from different companies when considering big home improvement projects such as this one.

Get a Consult from Professional Contractors

Before doing anything, make sure you get multiple estimates and quotes from professional contractors.

They’ll discuss all of your options with you as well as inspect your home to see if one project needs to take precedence over the other one.

You’ll also get the best prices by talking to multiple contractors too.

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