Double Glazing finally comes of age
The general public may be blissfully unaware of it but there has been a massive change in the double glazing industry over the past couple of years.
Some forty years ago the double glazed window arrived to take over from secondary sliding double glazing that fitted inside the original wooden windows. At that time the main replacement window and door on offer was made of aluminium and the sealed glazing units were constructed with a tiny 6mm air gap. Whereas the sealed unit double glazing was better than single glass or sliding internal secondary units, it really didn”t improve the performance by much. The draught seals were good but had an unfortunate side effect when allied to the solid aluminium frames winter condensation!
Seeing the success of the replacement window, companies were quick to develop a thermal break in the aluminium frame to eradicate the condensation problems and also increased the air gap to a respectable 12mm to improve insulation. Being a “revolutionary new product” much money was made by these pioneer businesses replacing windows and doors throughout the UK.
Around the early eighties a new idea was born. Plastic was the new wonder material that changed many manufactured products and windows and doors made using UPVC were cheaper and marketed as “maintenance free”, “high security” lifetime replacements.
The plastic window has reigned supreme ever since.
Fashion being a fickle thing however has seen the market change once more.
Admiral Windows based near Cambridge are well placed to see any such changes as the company supplies and installs windows doors and conservatories in aluminium, PVC and timber. The Managing Director of Admiral Steve Thorogood is an appointed industry expert for the Council of Advisors a New York financial consultancy firm and is well placed to comment on the recent changes affecting demand for double glazing in the UK.
He reckons that the recent collapses of high profile PVC manufacturers and “convenience mergers” are just the start of a quiet revolution in the industry that is governed by the power of consumer taste.
“The fact is that many discerning clients just do not like plastic anymore as a window material. They often specifically ask what the alternatives are. It”s not surprising really, they have all seen plastic door panels that have faded in the sun, windows designed by a salesman with too few opening vents and products totally at odds with the house style.
It is no wonder that PVC is a dirty word with conservation departments when thousands of homes throughout England have been blighted by the installation of awful looking windows and doors. These homeowners were “advised” by salesmen more interested in earning commission than what looks right. They may be insulated and many are high security but they look cheap and nasty and attract a lot of dirt”.
“Large plastic window manufacturers are waiting for volumes to return once the recession is over but it looks as if by then the customer will have moved on”.
The beneficiaries of this shift to alternative window materials are manufacturers such as TimberWindows.com. The business started just five years ago in Oxford and has expanded at a rapid rate to become one of the largest quality timber window and door suppliers in the United Kingdom. Admiral Windows have linked with them and opened timber showrooms in Alconbury Cambridgeshire, Roxton Bedfordshire and are about open a Hertfordshire window showroom in Cuffley. The two companies along with a few other selected organisations are combining their expertise to expand the product offer to include timber conservatories and orangeries.
Anyone considering replacement windows or a conservatory would be well advised to look at this quality timber system before asking for a quote on PVC. It costs more but the difference in quality is obvious to anyone visiting a Timber Windows Showroom.
Published April 21, 2010