Understanding The Three Common Window Installations

Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner walked into our showroom feeling fairly confident that they knew quite a bit about windows and wanted to talk to someone about pricing.  They explained that their project required renovation windows so we shouldn’t bother showing them any new construction products.  When I explained that in both cases the window was going to be the same, they frankly didn’t believe me and thought I was trying to pull something over on them.

This happens regularly, and I totally understand why people are confused.  Typically, they have had input from a friend, contractor or carpenter who is perhaps a fine tradesperson but not a window expert.  They don’t understand that the windows used in a renovation or a new home project are generally the same, except for the ‘flange’ part of the frame.  Different flanges are used to provide options for how the windows are going to be installed and how they are going to look from the outside.  Many manufacturers don’t provide all of the available options, but let me explain the primary choices one should consider.

First I’ll list the 3 most common types of flanges used in our market area:

1. Rebate or Renovation Flange

Mounted flush to the outside face of the frame, come in various widths, and are used to cover the area where the old window meets the exterior siding or stucco.  This is what Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner thought was their only option when they came in the other day.

 3 most common types of flanges used in our market area: rebate or renovation window flange

2. Nail Flange

Generally set back about 1” from the face of the frame and lays on the exterior sheathing so that the siding or stucco can go over top of it.  Sometimes wood or siding trims would go over top as well.  This flange is almost always used when the window is going into a new opening, but it is also used frequently in replacement applications.

 3 most common types of flanges used in our market area: nail flange


3. Brick Mold

This term actually refers to a milled piece of wood that is used around the exterior of a window or door; and the exterior siding, stucco, or brick would butt up to it.  Nowadays, this term also refers to vinyl and metal exterior flanges with a similar profile to the wooden ones.  They are available in various widths and shapes from some companies.  Plus, they allow for an exceptionally attractive finish on many replacement projects; especially if the existing exterior is horizontal beveled siding.


All three of these options can often be used successfully in most replacement window applications. The best one to choose depends on which is going to allow for the most weather-tight installation while suiting the style the homeowner is looking for.  In all cases the actual window product will be exactly the same; only the flange and appearance will be different.

It concerns me that many people believe the only way they can upgrade their windows is if they use a big, flat, white renovation flange around the outside of the frame.  I understand why someone would come to this conclusion…it’s because this is what they have seen done in their neighbourhood. However, the truth is that virtually any look a homeowner wants to achieve is available if they are working with a firm that has access to all of the options in the marketplace, and has the tradespeople capable of executing these more technical installations.

All of the most common applications can be viewed by coming to look at the displays in our showroom.  If you tell us where you live we can generally provide you with several addresses of homes we have enhanced in your neighbourhood. Typically, we can find a near-by address of a home similar to yours that has the new look you are wanting to achieve on proud display.

There are only about 15 homes on the cul-de-sac where we live, and over the years Long Life has replaced the windows in about a third of my neighbours’ homes.  All of these projects have utilized different exterior trims and flanges, so that no two are exactly the same, yet all of the homes are of a similar age and construction.  These homeowners are individuals, and have unique tastes in style.  Although different, each finished project looks great and suits the individual home.  That is the power of well-planned design.

So, if you have wanted to make your home more comfortable by upgrading your windows but have been holding off because you don’t like the look of what you have seen, relax and know new windows can improve the look and the view.

Get in touch with us for a free home estimate!