Choosing the Best Replacement Windows

We speak to the Wood Window Alliance about the art of choosing the best replacement windows, how to find a reliable window provider and their tips on glass maintenance.

What are the best ways to maintain the quality of my windows? Are there any cleaning techniques I should be aware of?

Simple steps such as wiping down the joinery finish to remove dirt and insects will help extend the decorative finish. Ask your window cleaner to do this at the same time as cleaning the glass.

Good household maintenance also helps to extend repainting intervals. At least once a year you should check hinges and handles and treat with a light oil if necessary, clean weather seals and ventilators to remove dust or grime. Each spring, inspect the joinery and spot repair any minor areas of coating damage, shakes or open joints In autumn, clear guttering and down pipes, and repair any leaks. 

What is PVC-U?

PVC-U is unplasticized (rigid) PVC. It has become popular for windows and doors because it offers a low cost solution that apparently does away with the need for maintenance.

PVC is a chlorinated plastic, made from ethylene (from oil or gas) and chlorine (from salt water). Apart from using a fossil fuel as a key feedstock, it is associated with environmental and human health hazards throughout its lifecycle. The ethylene and chlorine combine to produce a vinyl chloride monomer, a recognized human carcinogen; another human carcinogen, dioxin, is released when PVC is manufactured, and when it burns, whether in accidental building and landfill fires, or in incinerators.

Some progress has been made by the PVC industry to increase recycling rates (currently running at about 15%) but this creates other problems because of the hazardous legacy chemicals in the old PVC-u.

What are the pros and cons between using PVC-U or wooden frames for my replacement windows?

  • DurabilityWood frames will last around twice as long as PVC-u.
  • MaintenancePVC-u frames still need to be washed down annually etc. By the time a WWA wood window needs its first re-coat, a PVC-u frame is looking tired and cannot be easily refreshed.
  • Value—Although PVC-u windows are cheaper to buy than wood, wood is better long-term value, even taking maintenance into account, because of its longer life.
  • The effect on the value of your homeIf you live in a period home, PVC-u replacement windows and doors will decrease its value
  • Look and feelA PVC-u window just doesn’t look or feel like a real wood window
  • Redecoration—It’s easy to redecorate wood—if you want to bring it back to its original glory, or—just as importantly—if you want to change the colour scheme of a room.

How can I proof my windows against break-ins?

If you’re fitting new windows, make sure that comply with Approved Document Q Security in Dwellings. The best replacement windows should include locks and restrainers that allow ventilation without giving the space for a burglar to get in. Look for windows that are part of the Secured by Design scheme. Some thoughts about your existing windows: All windows should have locks and opening restrictors fitted. Consider external grilles or internal folding grilles for windows that can be accessed easily, and keep anything valuable out of sight.

See also: Choosing the Right Tradesperson 

I feel my period home would benefit from new windows however I’m worried they won’t fit with the original aesthetic. Are there any styles that would be suited to my situation?

The golden rule for choosing the best replacement windows in period homes is to make them look as original and authentic as possible. That normally means using timber; and it might mean doing a bit of research (or looking at similar streets) to find out what the original design would have been. Luckily you can now buy replacement wood windows that have all the benefits of modern windows—double-glazed energy-efficiency, low maintenance, and durability—with authentic period designs. 

What qualifications should I look for in my search to find the best window replacement provider?

When searching for the best replacement windows and provider you should look for fully factory-finished windows that have been tested and certified by a third party to have met the British Standards for air and water-resistance.

Check they offer good guarantees—expect around 30 years against rot in the frame, 8 years against coatings failure and 10 years against failure of seals, hardware and glazing. Make sure they have a PEFC or FSC Chain of Custody certificate to prove the timber comes from legal and sustainable sources, and that the windows are CE marked. Ask about the timber, ideally it should be engineered to be stable and knot-free.

See also: Installing Double-Glazed Windows 

I am considering having patio doors installed but am unsure which style would best fit my home, what are the advantages of the styles available to me?

Choosing the best replacement windows for patios can rely on a number of factors. The simplest and least expensive solution is French windows, however they don’t offer the uninterrupted opening provided by the more expensive and complex bi-folding door systems. Bi-folding doors slide and fold right back to open up a whole wall to the outside. Engineered timber is perfect for bi-folds, as it has the strength to support the often quite complicated design.

Sliding doors are often overlooked in favour of bi-folds. And, although they can’t open as wide as bi-folds, when closed they offer an almost uninterrupted view and can be linked up to span considerable lengths. Timber lift and slide doors offer exceptional draught-exclusion. For the ultimate in sleek sliding doors, you could choose slim-framed, aluminium-clad timber bi-parting doors; they meet in the centre and then open out and wide on a cam, rather like a train door. 

I have a window in my child’s bedroom but wish to ensure it is safe and secure, what options would you suggest are suitable for this room? 

Anything that offers a combination of good ventilation and an effective opening restrictor, typically a sliding sash or top hung casement.

Formed in 2007, the Wood Window Alliance (WWA) is a group of over 40 organisations from across the UK’s wood window industry committed to working together to drive up standards, promoting quality wood windows and doors in the UK market and making wood the number one choice. The Alliance is the benchmark for the industry, providing the reassurance of third-part accredited high quality, performance and sustainability standards.

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If you have enjoyed reading this article about choosing the best replacement windows, click here to read more on Celebrity Angels about modern conservatories. 

See also: Is it Worth Investing in Window Films? 

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