If you go for a walk around the average housing estate in Britain, you’ll notice something: more than fifty per cent of homes sport PVC glazing. These plastic-framed windows are everywhere.
When you think about it, this is a little strange. How can just one product be so popular among so many people? In most markets, there’s a considerable spread in the type of products that people choose. Just look at the motor vehicle market. Consumers want everything from city hatchbacks to pick up trucks. But in the window space, choices are, frankly, samey. Why?
The reasons for the popularity of UPVC windows are many. Unlike the wood-framed windows of old, they offer a plethora of benefits that the average homeowner finds hard to refuse.
What Are UPVC Windows?
Before getting into the specific details about why UPVC windows are so popular, it’s worth defining what a UPVC window is. UPVC is a rigid variety of PVC plastic, a popular construction material. Scientists created the first UPVC in 1935 using a process involving chlorine gas. The U in UPVC stands for “unplasticised,” meaning that UPVC does not contain chemicals which give most plastics their pliable, bendable properties. UPVC is, therefore, more rigid than the vast majority of plastic products, making it a suitable window frame material.
Why Are Double-Glazed Windows So Popular?
Double glazed windows are made of a different material to traditional window frames, but what makes them so popular in the UK? Why do we see them on practically every residential estate in the country?
They Are Affordable
Plastic is cheap to produce. All you need are petrochemical derivatives, chlorine gas, and a factory with the right setup to create window frames en masse. The price per unit is low, with most of the price consumers pay covering the initial factory setup investment.
The average cost of a double-glazed window is between £400 and £600. To glaze the front of a house costs around £2,000. And to double glazed all of the windows on a standard UK house requires approximately £4,800 to £7,200.
The costs of insulated glazing vary from year to year and include not only the cost of manufacturing, but also transporting and installing.
In the past, many people worried about installing double glazing because of the way that early units looked. The industry made little attempt to design windows that would complement existing designs, forcing many homeowners to install glazing that didn’t go well with their existing features.
In recent years, however, that’s changed considerably. You can now get all kinds of styles of double glazing.
These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Single and double hung sash windows
- Bay and bow windows
- Awning double glazed windows
- Casement double glazing windows
- Fixed double glazing windows
- Rotating and tilt and turn UPVC windows
It’s possible, therefore, to match double glazing to practically any home, no matter the original style.
They’re Easy To Maintain
Wood-framed windows were a nightmare to maintain. If you didn’t care for them year after year, then they would slowly rot and deteriorate over time. UPVC windows, however, are resistant to practically all forms of weathering as well as sunlight, and will happily serve your home for decade after decade with little no maintenance.
UPVC windows are surprisingly robust. UPVC does not crack during warm weather or allow moisture to penetrate when it rains (like wood can). And because water can’t get into the material, there’s no chance of freeze-thaw weathering, where frozen water inside the material expands and opens up cracks.
The most common issue with some UPVC windows is the tendency for problems with the handle mechanisms. Sometimes the spring inside the handles that pushes out the latch can become damaged or worn over long periods. Handles can also become loose and may need replacement. These issues, however, aren’t something that should sway your decision to buy.
The vast majority of UPVC window owners need to do nothing more than wipe them down with a damp cloth to prevent dirt from building up every once in a while.
They’re A Great Insulator
The average home loses between 30 and 50 per cent of its heat through its windows. Choosing new windows that keep the heat inside the house is, therefore, vital. The reason that UPVC windows make such good economic sense is that they help homeowners save on their heating bills over the long term, paying for themselves in just a few years.
Double glazing works by using two panes of glass with a gap between them as opposed to single glazing which uses just one pane of glass. By using two panes, manufacturers saw that they could create a void in the middle, free from air. Removing the air prevented the transmission of heat energy through the window, insulating homes a bit like a Thermos flask.
Annual energy savings from double glazing are substantial in the UK. Each window in a semi-detached house is estimated to save the homeowner between £75 and £110 per year.
They’re Available In A Range Of Colours
One of the reasons why people used to fear double glazing was because of its appearance. Plain white wasn’t exactly the most attractive colour and, often, not suitable for many properties. So starting a couple of decades ago, manufacturers began creating coloured varieties, design to complement a range of home styles.
This change opened up the market considerably. All of a sudden, double glazing looked just as good on a thatched cottage as it did on a new build. Homeowners could finally get a solution which complemented their home and the setting in which they lived.
Double glazing, therefore, now fully replicates the range of styles in the old window market while bringing a host of new benefits into play. People who choose double glazing can expect lower heating costs, less window maintenance, more stylish windows, and windows that last for the lifetime of their property. UPVC windows are a step-change in window technology that offers considerable benefits to homeowners. It’s no wonder they’re now so popular.