Whether you’re building your new house, or replacing windows in your current home, you may be entering the window market severely under-informed.
Why not just replace them with exactly the same as you had before? Surely windows aren’t that complicated?
Questions like this open you up to being overcharged for an inferior product. Coming up are the absolute basics that you MUST know before signing off from any window supplier.
U Values, Uw Values and Ug Values
This is where some sneaky suppliers can make products appear much better than they actually are.
For example. Say a company claims to have a window with a U value below 1 W/m^2k. Sounds great! But what does it actually mean?
Well, a U value is basically a measure of how badly a window is insulated – the higher the number, the worse the window will insulate against the elements.
Be warned though – a Ug (glass) value is normally much lower than a Uw (overall) value. Be sure to check what a value is referring to if it sounds too good to be true.
Triple Glazing – Do you really need it?
There was a brief period of time when triple glazing was “the thing” to have. Nowadays, double glazed units have overtaken old triple-glazed units, and offer more than enough insulation for the vast majority. Modern triple glazing should be reserved for builds where you know that the building will have excellent insulation properties.
The best way that this has been described to me: there is not point in buying a cheap jacket, with an expensive zip.
Side Hung or Side Guided? Other Window Opening Styles are Available…
A simple, yet often unknown difference. Side-hung windows work similarly to a normal door – they pivot at the hinges attached to the frame. In many cases, a friction brake is installed as standard. This allows the window to be locked in an open position without slamming shut in the wind. The hinges are often visible from the outside and they tend to be cheaper than their guided counterpart.
Side-guided windows offer some ease of maintenance where cleaning is concerned. The guide-rails allow you to access the exterior glass from inside the house. This does obviously mean that there is less of a clear opening in the event of a fire.
Tilt and turn windows are very popular in Europe and, whilst they are not the norm in the UK, provide a unique and very logical solution. The ability to choose between ventilation or fully opened, the addition of being easy to clean and excellent thermal performance make these units very much worth considering.
Are you Curtain Walling?
This moves us beyond window basics, but is still important to consider in the early stages.
Curtain walling, in the window industry, is where a window unit extends from one floor to another. It is a very common feature of modern skyscrapers.
Many suppliers and manufacturers’ products will not be certified for this. And, as a result, will refuse to send a quote that features it.
Make sure that you ask the supplier whether their products are CWCT certified before ordering.
Congratulations! By using all of your new window knowledge, you’ve successfully worked out exactly what you want from your new windows. You’ve done your research, and have ended up with 2 quotes from different companies in front of you. They both look exactly the same. They both feature similar U values and share the same length warranty. So why is one quote so much more expensive…?
Aftersales is an area that many people don’t consider. In an ideal world, the measurements taken are perfect; the estimator interprets the plans and inputs the configuration correctly; the manufacturer reads this information correctly; the delivery arrives without issue and the fitter installs the window with no complications. But what if something does go wrong after the order has been placed?
Make sure that your supplier offers a good aftersales service. There are a worrying amount of suppliers and manufacturers who will not help you with your project once the payment has been made.