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Saturday, 3 August 2013

Types of Domestic Window Frame

image: freedigitalphotos
This article evaluates the relative merits of timber, PVC and metal materials used in domestic windows. Advantages and disadvantages are discussed together with effective repair strategies.

Timber is the natural, timeless choice for windows. Hardwoods or (treated) softwoods give a stylish, nuanced look to a property and offer the additional benefit of mostly easy maintenance requiring modest DIY skills. With double glazing now becoming commonplace, timber is moving from being considered a 'tired' formula to being regarded as a rather more individual and upmarket option. If well-maintained and protected by regular painting or staining, timber can be a stable and long-lasting choice.

However, if allowed to fall into disrepair, the chief problem with timber windows is usually wet rot. This usually appears when the wood is allowed to remain permanently damp through, for example, leaking putty or a deteriorating paint layer.

The simple solution is a resin repair where the rot is scraped away, built up with a resin layer, sanded and repainted. Larger rotted sections can be treated by cutting away the bad section and then splicing in new wood, though the glass and frame must come out to achieve this. Where the stability and strength of the frame has been compromised, the remaining, and most expensive, option is replacement with a new timber frame.

Boosted by changes in the Building Regulations decreeing that double glazing must be used in the construction of all new homes and extensions, PVC frames have become inextricably linked with double glazing. They have been continuously marketed as a 'green', energy-saving alternative which was cheap and maintenance free. This largely remains the public perception. However condensation problems occurred when moisture breached the frame seals and leaked on to the glass surfaces. In this rather costly scenario, only renewal of both glass and seals cured the condensation.

Actually, first-generation PVC windows quickly developed a faded and discoloured look, when exposed to sunlight, because of the use of lead in their manufacture. Current, state-of-the-art, PVC windows are a considerable improvement, displaying greater condensation resistance and impressive energy-saving performance.

Metal frames first became fashionable with the introduction of the curved 'suntrap', or 'steel' windows of the 1920's 'art deco' period. However, with the exception of a few architectural specimens, most of these single-glaze windows have long since been replaced because of inferior thermal insulation and consequent issues with condensation. Metal frames can twist and buckle if subjected to structural distress and the resultant distortion brings about malfunctioning of handles and hinges, along with scuffed frame surfaces and ill-fitting windows. Rust can corrode and damage frames if water comes into contact with unprotected metal surfaces. Acid or abrasive material will remove minor rust damage but more serious corrosion will require the damaged section to be replaced with new metal.

Aluminium windows combine lightness and strength, allowing scope for some futuristic designs. Aluminium has a good lifespan but high thermal conductance has been a drawback. This has been resolved, on later products, by placing a 'thermal break' between the internal and external frame sections.

For expert help and advice get in touch with You Choose Windows today!
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