Repair vs. Replace: Chicago Suburb Wood Windows

Since the early 90s, the Chicago suburbs have exploded with the expansion of new upscale neighborhoods, and aluminum-clad casement windows were the standard for this new construction. During this period, there were a plethora of mid-scale wood window companies supplying Chicago homebuilders with a continuous supply of moderately priced window products to keep up with demand.

The Problem

Fast forward 25 years and the Chicago suburbs now face two big problems.

  1. Poor Quality: To keep up with demand and keep prices low (oh, but they still have to make money, right?), corners were cut. Poor design, faulty components and sloppy construction added up to failing windows. I’ve commented many times — and it’s my personal opinion — that some windows were almost designed to fail on purpose. In the 90s, a wood window had a 1-year warranty. The glass may have been covered for up to 10 years. I’ve actually sat through service training of a major manufacturer and their training literature really said, ‘The window should only last 10 years. ‘ 10 years? Who can replace windows every 10 years?
  2. Housing Crash: The ultimate downfall to the boom of the wood window industry came in 2008 with the housing market crash. Most of these mid-level, regional manufacturers had all their eggs in the new construction basket. Unlike Pella and Andersen that had a stronghold on the remodeling market, most of these mid-level brands folded between 2008 and 2010 because their new construction customers went under too. Manufacturers like Caradco, Pozzi, Norco and Rockwell are no longer around to service or warrant their aging windows.

The Solution

So you live in the Chicago suburbs, you own a $300,000-700,000 home and your aluminum clad windows are fogged up, rotten and falling apart. What do you do? Replace them right? What other option do you have?

How about saving 60% or more? Fenster replacement sashes are the answer to your problem.

For this size of home, the average count is about 40 windows. A whole-house replacement will run $80,000-$90,000 for a comparable clad wood window from the only guys that are left: Pella, Marvin, Renewal by Andersen, a private contactor using Jeld-wen or Weathershield.

Fenster can replace just the sashes in the same size house for $25,000-$30,000!

Breaking It Down

Let’s break it down. What does sash replacement look like in Chicago area homes:

Why sash replacement works for a long term solution:

In most cases, the frame of the window and sash are made very differently. The frames are built of a heavy gauge aluminum that most likely will never go bad. Worst case, they fade in the sun a bit. Otherwise, what could go wrong with the frame? The sash is very different. The sash is a wood frame with a thinner metal skin over it. The design flaws I eluded to earlier lead to water leaking into the frame between the glass and the metal skin causing the wood frame to rot out. With the sash being separate from the frame, the sash can be removed leaving the frame intact without a full tear-out.

Why sash replacement solves all of your problems:

Well, your window problems at least. First, ask yourself: why are you considering window replacement? Foggy glass? Rotted wood? Poor seal? Broken hardware? Sash replacement is a direct solution to each of these issues without the need of full replacement. There’s nothing wrong with the frame right? Why tear all of that out and pay for new when you don’t need it!

Why sash replacement is a better idea:

Wood window replacement is a major remodeling project. The vinyl guys just stick a smaller plastic window inside your existing window, fill the gaps and call that done! That doesn’t work in your style and price range of home in the Chicago suburbs. Wood windows need a full tear-out to replace them. That spells a major mess! The project could take days, even weeks if there are problems and cause a major disruption in your family’s home.

Fenster crews can replace 40 sashes in 2 days or less with no mess, no inconvenience to your daily life, but with all of the same benefits of a new window for 30%  the cost and none of the hassle.

Click here to learn more about Fenster’s products. Or click here to read more about when to repair and when to replace your windows.


    Posted April 15, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    How can we call and talk to a rep?

    • Posted April 16, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Phone numbers and emails are all over our website, strategically placed to get our customers to read something before they arbitrarily pick up the phone and have us regurgitate common facts already disclosed on the site. Currently (April 2020) our office is closed due to COVID. There is no one available to receive phone calls. The sales dept. can be reached by email at;

        Posted April 16, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Is it possible to just get the wooden frame of the window. How much would that cost.? Could it be shipped in the mail? How much time would that take?

      • Posted April 17, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Danny, We don’t sell just the frame and I’ll tell you why. All of our profiles have been altered for one reason or another for our production purposes. Particularly for boot glazed windows, those profiles have been converted to a wet glazed set up. This changes the glass opening. It’s assumed, that customers trying to buy just the frame are trying to reuse the existing glass. The existing glass will NOT fit in our frame. So one of two things are going to happen; If you’re not in a position to get new glass, you’ll have to hire that out so now you’re at, or approaching the price of the new sash from us anyway. OR, the one we love the most, now that the frame you bought doesn’t work the way you want it to work, you’ll want to return it for a refund. We’re not interested in dealing with that situation. Our beautiful new replacement sashes always work, and never get returned!

      Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Was the original product number we sent of our window one that you could identify and positively match to your windows? If it is and you are sure it will work, we need to order the window. Please confirm. The number we sent was 1XW67-B. Bronze, clad casement Caradco, 28.5 inches wide, 70.5 inches tall, 2 inch face, 1.75 inch thick

      • Posted April 27, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Well, those numbers don’t mean anything. 28.5 x 70.5 is a common Caradco sash size and the 1-3/4″ thickness tells me it’s a Heritage I if that is what you are asking?

        Posted April 29, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        We need to order one window then. Do you place the order for us? Or how do I place the order?

      • Posted April 30, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Danny, You need to submit an order request through our website.

  • Cindi Compton
    Posted April 20, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    How do I verify the size of the window sash? My home built in 1995 and I need to replace most of the failed Pozzi casement window sashes. We didn’t build the home but I have a copy of the original window order. I have no idea if the installed windows are per that order.
    Should I just copy and highlight the offer to get pricing? I would hate to place and entire order and find out they won’t work.

    I communicated with Jeldwen customer service a couple years ago. They were very responsive but couldn’t locate our order in their system the window sals company is out of business

    Located in South Haven Michigan and will be able to send a truck to pick up the order.

    • Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Hello Cindi, We really can’t do much with the original manufacturer’s paperwork. Occasionally it will tell us something, but we always prefer to make a visual identification of the sash model along collecting specifications that fit in with our ordering process. In answer to your first question, there’s no real information to “verify” sizing. We ask that you provide a physical measurement of each sash. This is explained in more detail under the measuring section of our Hints and tips page of our website.

  • Robert Boisacy
    Posted May 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I have Caradco Crank windows in my basement. Some of the frames have rotted out so I think window replacement is the way to go unless there is another suggestion. My home is on the market so I don’t want to invest a ton of money. What information would you need to get me quote on three windows. We live in NW burbs of Chicago.

    • Posted May 26, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Hello Bob, Well it really depends on what you mean by “frame”. When we say frame, it means what’s attached in the wall. We do not offer any frame components. We have found most carpenters prefer to make their own parts in the field when making frame repairs. Now if you mean the “frame around the glass” well that is part of the sash. Sashes ARE what we offer. We need an order request filled out with as much information as you can provide.

  • gary robinson
    Posted August 17, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I need a left and right side track which is vinyl with a block and tackle metal balancer 26 inches. The one metal balancer shows 26 inch BSI The vinyl track is 57 1/2 inches inside and the taper outside would be 58 1/4. The sashes are flat not tapered and I cannot find a brand-name anywhere. I’m guessing it’s a Norco or Crestline. I have two windows identical

  • Posted May 9, 2021 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to order a casement window. It’s a Caradco purchased in 2003 that is fogged up between the panes.
    The window is 22 1/2 X 38 3/8 (outside sash measurements). It is aluminum clad with 7/8″ grilles permanently attached inside and out , will a grill between the panes. The sash is 1 3/4 thick and 2″ wide the window is white.
    What would be the price and how do I order it ? what are the shipping costs ?

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