A California vinyl retrofit window frame or a vinyl replacement window frame? Which one should you buy when it's time to replace your old windows?
The picture above shows a corner section of a vinyl replacement frame. You can see how the outside perimeter is flat with no protruding fins of any kind. This is basically a nail on window frame with the nailing fin removed. These frames were made to fit in the pocket of a wood window,so the depth is 3 1/4", the same depth as the pocket in the old wood frames. But, they can also be used to replace aluminum framed windows if you don't want to tear out the whole frame and nail on a new vinyl window. If you live in a state that doesn't offer a retrofit frame, you can combine the replacement frame with our vinyl flat trim to create your own retrofit frame. You can Go Here To learn more. Remember,if you're going to do a complete tear out, there is going to be damage to the exterior and interior surrounding each window opening. In the west, and particularly in California, there is another type of vinyl window frame. It's called a California Retrofit window frame. The retrofit window frame was developed for replacing windows in homes with a stucco exterior.
The picture on the left shows a corner section of a California retrofit window frame. You are viewing it from the inside portion of the window, so you're looking at the back side of the fin. The fin on a retrofit window is generally referred to as a "flush fin" because the fin is flush with the exterior surface of the vinyl window. The fin of a new construction window is set back about an inch from the exterior surface of the window. When a vinyl retrofit window is installed in a home with old aluminum windows and a stucco exterior, the flush fin covers the old frame and extends onto the stucco surface. This eliminates any outside stucco damage.
The Ply Gem retrofit window frame offers 3 different fin thicknesses. The standard fin is 1/8" and is used when you are installing the window between wood, brick, or some exterior material that protrudes from the home. You can easily cut the fin down so it clears the protruding material and seals to the old metal frame. The 1/4" double thick fin is designed to sit on the stucco. It stays rigid on the uneven stucco surface. The 3/4" thick brick molding fin is an upgrade to the 1/4" fin, adding more detail and curb appeal.
The picture on the left is a section of the Ply Gem California vinyl retrofit window frame with the exterior brick molding lip installed on a stucco house. The old metal frame is completely covered by the 2" wide Flush fin. The flush fin shown is the 3/4" thick Brick Molding fin. When you install a retrofit window with a typical 1/8" thick flush fin on a stucco exterior, the lip will conform to the uneven surface of the stucco, creating a wavy look. But, the brick molding fin shown, as well as the dual wall fin option of the Ply Gem retrofit window stays rigid.
The picture above shows the California Retrofit window being installed onto a stucco home, which is a very common surface in California.
As you can see from the picture on the left, it's essential that your vinyl retrofit window frame extends into the house further than the old frame, so the flat trim will hide all of the old framework. There are 3 screws in the side jams in the picture on the right, but you can't see any screw heads because we used the screw hole plugs. The plugs can be purchased here.You can watch a short video demonstration of the screw plug installation if you click here.