There is little doubt that choosing the windows for your new home can be the most exciting yet daunting of decisions. It’s right up there with choosing the kitchen. If you get it right, you’ve achieved something wonderful and your forge yet a stronger relationship with your home but if you get it wrong it is something that may irk you for a long time, maybe forever.
So how do we get it right. There are so many window types to choose from. Which is right for you? Let’s look at the 4 main types and discuss their characteristics and benefits.
PVC windows are the entry level window. They are the market leader and have taken over from the timber windows of old. They are generally the most cost effective window and will confirm to all the necessary u-value and building regulation criteria. They come in double and triple glazed with a huge variety of locking mechanisms and openings. The downside of PVC is that they generally aren’t as slick and slimline as some other varieties, particularly over large span openings and they are only available in a limited number of colours. There are some new European varieties available which cost more and are certainly more high end and quality.
Modern Aluminium windows are very different to the metal windows of old. One of the main differences is that they are thermally broken. This means that they have an insulating layer in the centre of their frame to ensure that there is a break from the cold outside and the warm interior of a dwelling. As a general rule they will conform with the same u-values and building regulations as PVC windows but they are more geared to a higher end market with slimmer profiles and can work at much larger span openings typical of architect designed homes. There is also a huge variety of (RAL) colours available.
If like me you spent many summers scraping and painting windows you will remember how much your parents’ or grandparents’ windows had decayed in the harsh Irish climate. Modern timber windows are generally a hardwood (if produced in a joinery shop).
The benefit here is that are considerably more resistant to decay. If you buy a factory produced timber window they also come factory (paint) finished. Depending on their location these windows will likely require a painting every 8-10 years (in a suburban/sheltered location) Timber windows are ideal when you are seeking a warm internal theme for your home and again all these products would be designed to meet the same regulations. There would also be a full range of RAL colours available.
Generally sitting on the top of the pile is Aluclad in terms of the optimum blend of warmth, durability and unfortunately cost. Aluclad is essentially a timber window clad externally with aluminium. The aim here is to provide the warmth of timber internally with the durability of aluminium externally. This could well be required if you are siting your house in a more exposed location or indeed if you perish at the thought of any level of maintenance or painting regime (no matter how far in the future) for your windows. Again you would have the full suite of RAL colour available.
So the question remains, how do you choose the best windows for you? Well it comes down to two main things really. What is your budget and what is your goal because they can all be designed to perform similarly in terms of thermal efficiency. PVC windows are entry level in terms of price but a very limited colour range and may not provide the warm look you are seeking. Aluminium windows cost more but have a full suite of colours. They may be a little too cool and contemporary in terms of styling. Tiber windows cost more also and radiate warms internally but can you deal with the thought of maintenance later? Aluclad have the warm glow internally with next to no maintenance externally but can you deal with the hit to your budget?
Happy window shopping!