Windows: Glazing, Materials & Styles

Before comparing suppliers and requesting quotes it is essential to plan out your budget and decide on what kind of look you’ll be going for. We’ll be outlining below the glazing options, materials used and the common styles made available whether you use a major national chain or a local reputable firm. UPVC double glazing reigns supreme with the general public for new builds and full replacements today. These increased sales are determined above all else by price point. If this wasn’t the case then we’d surely see most buyers opting for triple glazed finishes. UPVC’s market dominance is understandable when factoring its many benefits whilst styling choices comes down to personal preference.

Glazing: Single vs Secondary vs Double vs Triple

Single vs Secondary vs Double vs Triple Glazed Windows

Single Glazed

Rarely used these days for new installations. I have been well versed on the many pitfalls of this minimal protection, with my past bedsit having just the single pane and no central heating! Think ice collecting on the inside window and large pockets of breath each time I’d speak during those cold winter months. The summer wasn’t much better also thanks to very noisy kids playing out on the street. There aren’t many scenarios in which single glazing makes sense in the modern day. Perhaps if you live in the Mediterranean in a quiet location then a single pane is acceptable. Even still, for peace of mind you’d prefer the added security of that extra pane.

Secondary Glazed

Certainly a step up, whereby a second slim window is added on to the existing pane. This is sometimes the only option when double/triple isn’t possible due to planning restrictions. Problems don’t usually crop up unless your property is a listed building, in a conservation area, in flats or is under an Article 4 Directive. A bay window for reference is classed as an extension and so it would be subject to permission. Secondary glazing should help to keep the exterior noise down and keep your home warmer at a fair price. If an upgrade is however possible then that would be recommended, especially for those looking to increase the sale potential of their properties.

Double Glazed

The panes of glass here are separated by a layer of trapped argon gas. The argon gas aids in keeping warm air trapped inside. The extra pane also acts as a secondary barrier to noise and adds security. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you were to replace all single glazed windows in a 3 bedroom semi-detached house you’d save between £75 and £100 per year with B rated glass and £85 and £110 with A rated glass. That’s a saving of between £1500 and £2200 over 20 years. Minimising noise is essential for properties on busy roads and flight paths. Standard A rated protection would usually see a 31db reduction. There are often upgrades to 36db.

Triple Glazed

The frame includes a thermal insert in the mainframe chamber to create smaller chambers and reduce heat loss and there is a spacer bar between each pane which is made from thermally optimised insulating material. In the space between the panes is krypton gas that increases thermal performance. You can be looking at A++ rated windows here. This’ll reflect more heat back into your home, make it extra cosy and cut your heating bills. Sound protection is an added bonus (usually 37db) as well the security enhancement. Naturally, the cost is ramped up here, but this is the only option for ultra performance that will also help to raise the value of the property.

Materials: Aluminium vs UPVC vs Wooden

Aluminium vs UPVC vs Wooden Windows

Aluminium

More expensive than UPVC, but cheaper than timber. Added strength allows for a slimmer frame and a greater glass surface area. Virtually maintenance free as well. This is the environmentally friendly choice of the pack. Highly sustainable and endlessly recyclable, at the same time lasting for decades rather than years. Aluminium doesn’t however hold heat in well and whilst there are lots of finishes, you’ll tend to find less options as to the particular style of frame that you can buy. This is the popular choice in the commercial sector, but less so for mainstream homeowners. On the premium side, more buyers prefer timber for the aesthetics, charm and insulation perks.

UPVC

Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) is the material of choice for most homeowners purchasing new windows. There are many pros, but the biggest of all is the price point of this material in comparison to aluminium and wood. Then there is energy efficiency and low maintenance. This material is also easy to construct and so you’ll tend to find more customising options available when such things as specific shapes or styles are required. One of the main historical drawbacks has been the aesthetic appeal of what is often considered a cheap white plastic look. Fortunately, a wider range of finishes have become available today. To maximise the value of a property, this wouldn’t be the first choice though.

Wooden

The natural beauty of real wood is very appealing to buyers and there are lots of colour finishes to complement the look further. Wood is good for energy efficiency and security. Wooden frames will also last longer than UPVC but they do require more maintenance, the cost is much higher and its tricky for manufacturers to offer much customisation when that bespoke look is desired. Softwood or hardwood can be opted for, with hardwood ramping up the costs, with this choice helping to deliver natural resistance to warping and shrinking. The higher purchase cost is the main drawback here, but you could actually see greater value over the long term.

Styles: Casement vs Sash vs Tilt and Turn

Casement vs Sash vs Tilt and Turn Windows

Casement

The casement window frame is the most popular market style. This type of window is attached by hinges and simply opens like a door. The casement allows maximum light in your room and delivers good energy efficiency. With impressive air circulation and top notch security it is unsurprising that this is the favoured choice with buyers. What adds to the universal appeal is the lower cost in place here and despite being the earliest type of frame, the style manages to always maintain that stylish modern look. It may however be worth giving a personalised decorative finish to the glass just to stand out since this style is used so extensively.

Sash

Sash windows aren’t attached by hinge, but rather slide open either up or down, or side to side. The sliding mechanism is simple and secure. Sash is the style of choice in many of the plush properties across London. Whilst being introduced later than casement, this is the style that manages to best carry that distinctive vintage look. One of the pros with this option is that other styles may not be possible when you have limited clearance space to open the window. On the flipside, air circulation isn’t great and the cost is the highest. The windows need to be in proport­ion to the house, so are often bespoke that is one such reason behind the increased costs.

Tilt and Turn

The tilt and turn style originated in Germany where it has always been the first option with buyers. The trend went on to spread across many European countries and this now Continental-style has started to become increasingly popular here in the UK. This window can both tilt inwards at the top and open inwards from hinges at the side. You can tilt inwards for some fresh air or 90 degrees for maximum ventilation. A key feature is the ability to safely clean from the inside. Despite the technological advances it is casement that reigns supreme and sash frames would also be expected to be the favoured British choice through their elegance and historic roots.

Styles: Decorative and Shaped Windows

Decorative Windows

You can transform the look of glass with a trendy decorative finish. There are options to choose other colour schemes, go etched and then for obscurity you can go for finishes like minster and stippolyte. Most homes see with the usual rectangular shaped windows and so it may be an idea to consider other shapes. A common alternative design is the arched style, but you could go round, create a triangle, use curves etc. A specific shape may be a great idea in a single room where you want to go for something just a little different in whatever size you’d like. When going personalised like this you’d need to opt for a UPVC frame.

Shaped Windows

Summary

For fresh builds and upgrades, seeking new windows is always an important home improvement purchase. As was touched on above, it is how much is being spent that tends to determine the end designs. This is why we continue to see dominance on fitments of double glazed UPVC casement windows. When budget takes a step back this is when we see increased sales for sash, triple glazing and wooden frames, as well as decorative customisations. Spreading the cost is always an option for those intent on building their dream home. The major chains all offer finance or you could always move around the balance on 0% credit cards. We’ll explore pricing further in a later submission.