So, you need to get some windows! Perhaps the windows you already have in your home have seen better days, perhaps you simply want to upgrade your window technology or perhaps your new build needs a decision made on its glazing. Whatever the reason, deciding on windows can’t be that difficult right? Surely, windows are windows? The thing is, these days glazing is big business. With the breadth of products out there, it is easy to get lost in a sea of decisions. Just in the world of double glazed windows you not only have to consider the standard requirements such as visibility, frames, shape and quality, you will also come across glazing applications you didn’t even know you wanted! These include glazing options such as heated windows, tinted windows (including variable tint capabilities), enhanced insulation and glass alternatives.
Here we hope to point you in the right direction when going about selecting the best windows for your property. Double glazing is still the most common, most cost-efficient and most diversely developed form of glazing on the market today, so the likelihood is that there will be a double-glazing option out there to fit your window-based needs!
Until fairly recently in the history of windows and glazing, windows were simple constructions. They consisted of a single pane of glass set into a wooden frame with some kind of adhesive, much like the construction of a picture in a picture frame. This window pane was then set into a wall opening. The main purpose of the original window was simply to let in light and was later upgraded with an option to open; letting in air and allowing things to be passed back and forth through the opening.
Windows have come quite a long way since those days. We now ask a lot more of our glazing now and have developed them in countless ways, thanks to scientific advances and the availability of durable materials such as UPVC. Double glazing is one of the most important developments in modern glazing, as most domestic windows harness this technology, or a direct development of it, in some way.
Double glazing, as the name would suggest, uses two panes of glass as opposed to one. This in itself creates an extra layer of sound and weather protection. However, the argon gas trapped between the two panes of glass is the real hero when working to make your home more energy efficient. Argon gas does not conduct heat well, a 67% conductivity in fact, and therefore prevents warm air from escaping.
You may require a number of bespoke glazing requirements, but every double-glazing window should carry out the following functions to a high standard.
|Glazing must be easy to clean and maintain.||This comes down not only to the materials used in the construction of your window and frame, it also comes down to the functionality and placement of your window. Wood is no longer used in most window frames, as well as a lack of durability it is also hard to keep clean, hence the widespread use of UPVC. If glass is fitted loosely into a window frame it is also hard to clean thoroughly and there is an increased risk of window breakage.|
|Windows must let in an ample amount of light.||The light that comes in through your windows is primarily nothing to do with the glazing itself, it is more about where it sits in relation to the sun and if there are any external obstructions. However, the window must do as much as possible to harness the light available; therefore, the clarity of the glass used and light enhancement technologies applied the glazing must work to bring in as much light as possible.|
Windows must in keeping with the aesthetics of your home.
|This can be tricky with houses that are a bit older and have a certain style. For example, if you were to need to replace a Victorian bay window or set of French UPVC doors, which are stylistically very different from their modern standard versions, you would have to make sure you sourced a fitting window design or employed a bespoke glazing service.|
Glazing must have a good energy rating.
|The energy rating of a building is becoming ever more important. The minimum energy rating you should look for in your double glazing is A+. AA++ 21 is the highest current rating.|
Windows must be secure.
|Security is paramount in any home. Your windows must be solid, good quality and professionally fitted.|
Most people will go for double glazing, it is the industry standard. However, there are benefits to both single and triple glazing. Let’s take a quick look at their pros and cons… which glazing option best suits your needs?
|Single Glazing||It is extremely cheap. It is also easier to find single glazing units that fit period properties than it is to find matching double-glazed frames.||It has an average U value of roughly 5.0W/m2. The current building regulations in the UK state that all windows need to have a minimum U value of 1.6W/m2. This means that most single glazing falls well short of the current thermal performance rules. Great for a shed or garage, perhaps not so great for use in the home.|
|Double Glazing||Double glazing performs excellently in the areas of thermal and noise insulation. Because of this, houses cost much less to run than they would have done with single glazing. In fact, it is estimated that the power saving between single and double glazing for the average household is around £160 a year.||It is tricky to find double glazing for listed buildings and conservation areas. Standard units often don’t fit the aesthetics of the project so have to be specifically made to bled in with the surroundings.|
|Triple Glazing||As you might expect, it performs even better than double glazing when it comes to thermals and sound pollution.||Although it outperforms double glazing, it’s performance is often better than the situation calls for. If your building is in a particularly cold or noisy environment, then perhaps triple glazing is called for, but this is not the case in most places. It is also disproportionately more expensive than double glazing.|
The cost of double glazing obviously varies vastly based on the number of windows you require and the applications you wish for them to perform. The cost can also be affected the location of the windows, for example, the installation of French windows on the ground floor will be less expensive than new windows on the second floor; there is scaffolding and extra logistical incurrences to think about.
The best thing to do when wondering about the cost of your new windows is to get an installer round to give you a quote. However, it helps to have a ballpark figure in your head beforehand to work out whether their quote is outrageous or reasonable! This table details the average costs of double glazing installation in 2018.
|NUMBER OF WINDOWS||AVERAGE COST|
|Between 1 and 4 new windows||£250.00 to £1999.00|
|Between 5 and 8 new windows||£2000.00 to £3999.00|
|Between 9 and 12 new windows||£4000.00 to £7999.00|
|13 windows or more||£8000 or above|
The word ‘best’ is perhaps a bit vague. There are many brilliant glazing companies around, and they all have their own products, many fantastic and some not so much! Once again, it all comes down to what your specific glazing needs are. To begin with, it helps to know how well the big glazing brands in the UK perform, here is a brief look at four of the UK’s biggest players in windows and glass doors to give you an idea what you might be able to expect from each. (All statistics shown in the following table are correct as of May 2nd, 2018).
|GLAZING BRAND||VALUE FOR MONEY||CUSTOMER SERVICE||QUALITY OF INSTALLATION||QUALITY OF BUILD||TRUSTPILOT SCORE||‘WHICH?’ BRAND SCORE|
The style and materials used in new windows vary from project to project based on a number of factors from personal preference to aesthetic influence. However, all new windows must have good energy ratings. This is something customers want and indeed require across the board. So, let’s take another look at our glazing brands to get an idea of how energy efficient their windows and doors are. (All statistics shown in the following table are correct as of May 2nd, 2018).
|GLAZING BRAND||NUMBER OF WINDOWS ENDORSED BY THE EST||NUMBER OF WINDOWS ENDORSED BY SBD|
It is always advisable to have a professional install your double glazing. In fact, for replacement doors and windows to meet regulation they need to be installed by someone who has a FENSA registration. However, it is possible to put double glazing together yourself, even if you are not an expert. For a solid explanation of every process, you need to perform in order to install your own windows check out this advice from the DIY Doctor.
Where do you start when going about getting new windows installed in your property? The process is not familiar to most of us as most of us are not tradesman or window installers, and most of us will only need to do this once or twice in our lives. Here are the five things you need to do, to ensure that you get the right glazing to fit your needs, and to ensure that the product and installation is of the best quality.
Research. It is so easy to get an idea of what the current industry standards are, what glazing generally costs and what products are out there. Glazing is one of those subjects on which the internet has a lot of reliable information. So, before you go to any company, or buy anything, get yourself clued up!
Choose the Right Company. Don’t go with a company unless you are assured of their reputation. Read reviews, ask around, check what Check-A-Trade says. Cowboy builders are still very much out there, don’t get caught out!
Don’t Crumble Under Pressure. It has been known for a glazing company to pressure a customer into signing on the spot. Don’t sign anything until you are absolutely sure that the service you are about to sign for is exactly what you want.
Multiple Quotes. It is always a good idea to get more than a quote. This will help you to work out what a reasonable price is by comparing the quotes and what the companies are offering for that price.
Read the Small-Print. Make sure you thoroughly read the Terms and Conditions and that know exactly what your rights are when purchasing new windows or glass doors, as the system is full of loopholes and pitfalls. For example, many companies do not give you the right to cancel when ordering made-to-order windows. Follow this LINK to learn more about what your rights are when buying double glazing.