Your guide - new windows

New windows are one of the most expensive items to replace in a home, however they can make a huge difference to how your home looks whilst also improving the insulation and security. We take a look at the options when choosing new windows.

Image Source: Polish Interiors


What material can I choose for my window frames? 

The most common kinds of window are PVCu, wood (soft & hard wood) and aluminium. Also look out for alu-clad, where a timber frame is clad with aluminium on the outside to protect against the elements - these are efficient and low maintenance windows with all of the functional qualities of timber.

PVCu

PVCu windows are the most popular kind of window in the UK and thankfully are now made with much smaller frames as well as in a large selection of colours - they are a great choice for those on a budget.

Pros

  • Cheapest material
  • Extremely weather resistant
  • Little maintenance with only cleaning required
  • Will last for around 35 years

Cons

  • Can look grubby and stain
  • Can look cheap and unattractive
  • Frames are wider than wood or aluminium
  • Unsustainable source of material

Anything else to consider?

Shop around to get good quality PVCu windows at a reasonable price. You can get excellent windows now manufactured overseas which are the same quality but at a better price - and without the traditional window salesman taking a cut. Or ask your builder where to source quality PVCu windows at a trade price.

It's also worth remembering that PVCu is not as strong as aluminium, so if you are choosing a large panel then the frame may sag with PVCu.

Wooden

Wooden windows are so beautiful and you have the choice of leaving them in their natural wood or painting them. You can also repaint easily over the years if you would like to change the look.

Wooden windows look particularly at home in period properties or in a home with character. Do bear in mind that you will have to maintain the windows, with re-painting or sealing every 5 years at least. Windows that are exposed to the elements will need to be maintained more frequently and rot should be looked at by a professional and acted on immediately.

The cost will vary depending on the kind of wood that you choose, with softwoods such as Douglas Fir being much cheaper than a hardwood such as Oak, however the hardwood will require less maintenance and likely last longer.

Pros

  • Wooden windows are beautiful and elegant
  • Sustainable source
  • Wood is a naturally insulating material
  • Long lasting - good quality windows can last beyond 50 years

Cons

  • Require maintenance
  • Not as weather resistant as PVCu or aluminium
  • Hardwood is an expensive option

Anything else to consider?

Wooden windows can be manufactured in a range of timber, however Accoya™ is a great option as it is a sustainably sourced manufactured wood which is guaranteed against rot above ground for 50 years.  Accoya™ is also reasonably forgiving of any subsequent lack of maintenance or neglect.


Image Source: The Sash Window Workshop


Aluminium

Aluminium windows are popular now in modern homes and we see so many 60s & 70s properties given a face-lift with aluminium windows. They come in the standard RAL colours and are very popular in dark grey, often coordinating with bi-fold doors. They are popular as the frames can be very thin whilst supporting a large area of glass - so they are a great option if you want large panoramic windows. A more expensive option than PVCu and typically, the narrower the frame the more expensive the window.

Pros

  • Very lightweight and can support a large area of glass
  • Easily manipulated into the shape that you need, so great if you have unusually shaped windows
  • Structurally very strong and the frame won't sag like PVCu might

Cons

  • Not as thermally efficient as PVCu or wood - aluminium is a great conductor but in the winter the frames will get very cold!
  • More expensive than PVCu

Anything else to consider?

Make sure you choose the appropriate style for you home. Aluminium frames suit modern styles of home but might not look right in a period property.


What styles of window are available?

The main styles sold in the UK are casement, tilt & turn and sash windows.

Casement 

The most popular style of window in the UK, casement windows are hinged at the side and open outwards. They usually come in pairs with either one or both windows being hinged. They are often in standard sizes and therefore are the cheapest style.

Tilt and turn

These windows open inwards and are typically on one large panel. Tilt and turn windows are a great option in the bathroom as they are designed to offer ventilation whilst being secure.

Sash

Some of the most common styles of sash windows in the UK include the Victorian one over one sash window; the Victorian two over two sash window; and the Georgian six over six sash window. As sash windows are often bespoke to fit period properties, they are an expensive option.

Unlike other types of window, by opening both the top and bottom sashes in a double hung sash window you can improve the circulation of air within the room, cooling down your property in hot weather.

If you want to read more about Sash Windows, check out our expert advice - sash windows article.

Image Source: The Sash Window Workshop


Glazing Choice

Double glazing is the standard choice now for new windows. If you are replacing old single glazed windows you will notice the benefit of double glazed windows. Single glazing is normally only used in listed properties.

Triple glazing is now becoming popular and should cost no more than 10% more than double glazing, with the benefits of thermal and noise insulation may outweigh the additional cost. In period renovations where other parts of the building are not insulated it’s not worth investing in triple glazing, especially wooden sash windows where it's expensive and they are usually fitted in old non thermally broken walls.

For both double and triple glazed windows, look out for the BFRC rating which is similar to the energy rating for household appliances. Energy Efficient windows are rated 'A++' (the most efficient) to '​E'. It's recommended to choose 'B' as a minimum, with 'C' the minimum to satisfy Building Regulations.


Anything else to consider?

Look carefully at the locks and handles. Consider getting lock open windows which will allow air to circulate whilst being secure.

The price of windows can vary depending on material, size and style of frame. Typically PVCu casement windows are the cheapest, starting at around £150 for a small window, with the most expensive being hardwood sash windows which can easily exceed £1,000. Do your research and get various quotes. Buying PVCu and aluminium from Europe will likely be a cheaper option but look for a specialist local company when replacing wooden sash windows.

You normally don't need planning permission to replace windows, however if you live in a conservation area, listed building or are changing the appearance of your window (such as the colour), then do consult your local planning authority.

Published: May 13, 2018

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