UPVC windows now come in so many shapes, styles, sizes and colours we have a plethora of glazing options. You can choose between single glazing, double glazing and even triple glazing for your home. We can also adorn our windows with tints, stains and grids to suit your lifestyle choices. But it's not just the quality and style of the glass that is improving and diversifying, it is also the materials with which we make our window frames. Back when windows were first invented, a single pane in a wooden frame was the only option. Although wooden frames are still available and very popular, the majority of window frames are now made from a revolutionary plastic know as UPVC. This material is cheap, durable, easy to maintain and can be applied to virtually any design due to its amazing versatility.
The UPVC window market is large, and it can be overwhelming trying to decide what product you think is best to suit your needs and tastes. This article aims to give you a little more basic knowledge about UPVC windows in the hope that you will find your way to the ideal solution for all your window-based needs!
Windows frames are no longer made with wood as standard. The industry standard material for windows is now UPVC. Wooden frames are still used in specific cases, usually for period buildings and conservation projects these days as opposed to new buildings. Corporate projects such as tower blocks or new public buildings such as museums and galleries often upgrade to metal alternatives such as steel or, more commonly, aluminium. Domestically though, UPVC is the most likely material to be used in external doors and window frames.
UPVC (Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride) is a derivative of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). In order to make the material suitable for use in window frames, additives and stabilizers are used. These additives change the material’s chemical construction to create a material that is solid, versatile and durable. These stabilizers are not always the same, as certain additives affect the end product in different ways. This means that different stands of UPVC are available, in order to cater to a wide range of desired qualities and applications.
UPVC windows are formed by fusing sections of plastic known as ‘profile’ together. A profile is essentially a straight and rigid length of UPVC plastic designed specifically for door and window frames. Profiles are produced by forcing hot, liquid PVC into a mould. This PVC is then strengthened by adding stabilizers and being cooled almost instantly. These profiles are then cut to length and joined together to form the desired shape of the window. These joins are achieved either through heat fusion or through external t-joint connectors. Reinforcement materials are often added inside the UPVC profiles to add stability to the structure. Generally speaking the reinforcement material in question is either steel or aluminium.
We are lucky to have so much history in the UK. The architecture still standing throughout the country represents the building trends spanning over the last 1000 years. Because of this, these are a lot of oddly shaped, uniquely sized and specifically designed windows out there. UPVC windows can be designed to be in keeping with any building and made to measure in order to fit any opening. So, how much does the average UPVC window cost? It’s difficult to know what the precise answer to that is if you take the growing demand for bespoke windows into account. However, to give you a rough idea of the material and labour costs associated with a new window, we have put together a couple of resources based on the standard UPVC casement window sizes currently available in the UK.
Approximate prices for casement windows in the UK, including installation:
|600cm x 900cm, 1 opening||White, B rated, UPVC||Between £200.00 and £250.00|
|1200cm x 1200cm, 1 opening||White, B rated, UPVC||Between £300.00 and £350.00|
|950com x 1500cm, 1 opening||White, B rated, UPVC||Between £450.00 and £500.00|
|1200cm by 1800cm, 1 opening||White, B rated, UPVC||Between £500.00 and £550.00|
Approximate prices for casement windows in the UK, NOT including installation (product only)
|600cm x 1200cm, 1 panel, 1 opening||White, C rated, UPVC||Between £115.00 and £150.00|
|1200cm x 1200cm, 2 panels, 1 opening||White, C rated, UPVC||Between £155.00 and £180.00|
|1200cm by 1200cm, 3 panels, 2 openings||White, C rated, UPVC||Between £195.00 and £225.00|
|1800cm x 1200cm, 3 panels, 2 openings||White, C rated, UPVC||Between £235.00 and £255.00|
Approximate prices of UPVC windows based on property size, including installation:
|HOUSE SIZE||APPROXIMATE PRICE||‘ADD-ON’ FOR SASH WINDOWS|
|Small house or flat, between 4 and 6 windows||£2200.00 to £2800.00||£1000.00|
|Medium house, between 8 and 10 windows||£3000.00 to £3800.00||£1500.00|
|Large house, between 13 and 16 windows||£5200.00 to £6000.00||£2000.00|
These are all rough estimates for standard units, but there are many more elements and features that may affect the price of your windows. These include:
Opening Sections. There are some companies out there that will charge per opener.
Upgraded Glazing. You may want to upgrade your double-glazing to triple-glazing, to ensure a more energy efficient home. You may also wish to add a tint to your windows, a specific design, or classic elements such as lead barring and grids.
Coloured Frames. White is the standard for UPVC frames, but other options are available. As well as pretty much any block colour you can think of you can also apply various wood effects such as oak or rosewood.
Frame Quality. The quality of the UPVC frame itself can vary, both in the quality of the material itself and the construction.
Location. This refers to two things. First of all, if you live in an out-of-the-way location, fitting the windows may cost more. Secondly, if the windows you are replacing are on the ground floor as opposed to the first, second or third floor, then labour and scaffolding requirements will make the fitting of your windows cheaper.
Design. Any bespoke design requirements will hike the price upwards.
Energy Ratings. The higher the energy rating of the window, the higher the price.
Window Furniture. The bits and pieces that adorn your windows such as locks and handles come in various designs and styles, this will also change the cost of your windows.
All of these prices may look a little daunting, but never fear! The double-glazing industry is a big one and is therefore very competitive. There are deals to be had if you know where to look. Having said that, even if there are no deals to be seen at your preferred glazing company, negotiation is never off the table!
Speaking of deals, one of the savviest ways to cut the cost of your windows is to buy in bulk! Even though it might seem expensive at the time, it is much more cost effective to re-glaze your entire home at once, as opposed to doing a few at a time in order to fit with whatever cash-flow situation you are in. Most of the big UPVC vendors offer multi-unit deals all year round, these even extend into external doors. There is nothing worse than a home with shiny new windows and a grotty looking old door. A soon as you have new windows chances are you will want a front and back door to match; you might as well get them all at once and save money in the long run!
If money is an issue, bear in mind that most window companies are now offering competitive finance schemes to ensure that their customers still have access to the best products available. Take this finance scheme from Everest for example:
|TOTAL GLAZING COST||DEPOSIT||FINANCE PERIOD||INTEREST RATE||MONTHLY REPAYMENT|
The installation makes up a sizeable chunk of the overall cost of your windows. If you are quite a handy person and only need to fit one or two windows, you might be tempted to fit them on your own. However, for a bigger project, such as a glazing overhaul of your entire property, you will definitely require professional window fitters. Installation usually accounts for somewhere between 25% and 40% of your entire spend. This table gives a rough example of what the cost breakdown might be for the professional fitting a single UPVC window.
|Labour||£250.00 per day|
The labour cost per window will reduce exponentially the more windows you have to fit. But this kind of breakdown is fairly typical for a single window fitting.
As stated above, installing the odd UPVC window yourself is not impossible if you take care to do everything correctly and to a high standard. This can be achieved using standard household tools and a little flair in the home improvements and DIY departments. It is so much easier to learn how to carry out tasks such as this than it was as little as a decade ago, as there is now plenty of online advice available. This article lays out in detail exactly what equipment you will need and what methods to use in order to fit your own window. Check it out HERE.
To compare UPVC manufacturers and to find out who is offering the best deal for you, check out what Greenmatch has to say on the subject. This site will help you to weigh up whether to go with one of the big companies such as Safestyle Everest, Zenith or Anglian or to employ the services of a smaller local company. But how do you know what makes a good UPVC window? Here is what you need to consider and look out for when you go window shopping!
Energy Rating. The energy rating of your new windows (normally rated between A and D) not only affects what it will cost to run your home but now also affects the value of your property.
Warranties. Always check the warranty before purchase. There are three standard warranty types to choose from.
Internal or External Glazing. There is a difference! Internal glazing performs much better for security.
Hinge Screws. Make sure these are made of a strong material. Stainless steel is the best, alternatives such as zinc are far less hard-wearing.
Locking System. Locking systems vary in their efficiency and security. Shoot bolt is the most popular option as far as a secure locking system goes.
The consumer group Which? always does a fantastic job of offering a fair and balanced review of any company. The ‘Which?’ article casts a light on the services and UPVC windows provided by Anglian, Everest and Safestyle. It also compares the main elements of these companies as well as alerting you to what to look out for when working with these window vendors.
What is a composite window? The ‘composite’ element refers to the window frame itself primarily. Composite windows were initially developed for colder climates, such as those you may find in Scandinavia, so were designed to minimise heat loss. Their sturdy design also plays well for a UK-wide desire for increased security. Unlike UPVC, which is formed solely from plastics, the composite option, as the name suggests, is composed of a number of different materials. Most commonly the composite material combines plastic and toughened glass to create an extremely robust and secure material. Other elements are sometimes added to increase this security and its long-term durability; composite windows are designed to last up to 35 years, outstripping UPVC’s average lifespan by a decade.
Robustness in composite windows is also increased by the use of engineered timber in its framework. This is particularly helpful for coastal properties where the wind speeds can often be quite high, as there is very little room for movement in the design of the window itself.
Composite windows also differ from UPVC windows in the quality of their glazing. Although both UPVC and composite windows both come in double glazing and triple glazing options, composite windows have an extra feature known as laminated glazing. This is also a measure taken to increase security. When impaled or put under pressure, laminated glass will shatter, but will also stay solid and in place in its window frame. UPVC windows do not come with this standard feature, broken glass will shatter and fall from the frame, allowing potential intruders easy access.