When the Irish winter overstayed its welcome this year and bullied its way into spring, home insulation once again became a hot topic among homeowners. One of the best ways to insulate your home is to install double glazed windows, but what material should you choose for your window frame? Window frames come in a variety of materials such as UPVC, wood and aluminium. I have noticed a lot of UPVC windows in Dublin, but are they the best option for our temperate climate? If you are wondering which material you should choose for your window frames, take the following considerations into account:
Wood might be the most customisable and aesthetically-pleasing option, but in our damp climate, the moisture in the air can eventually cause it to warp or rot. Wood also makes a great home for insects and pests such as woodworm. If the nails become loose, wooden frames will rattle in the wind. They need to be repainted and resealed every year to prevent peeling paint.
UPVC and aluminium are not vulnerable to moisture, rotting, warping or insects, but due to its lightweight structure, aluminium can suffer from bends and dents. Aluminium and wood frames can also be damaged by salty air.
Warranties for wood and aluminium frames typically ten for ten years. UPVC frames usually come with twenty to thirty year warranties.
Some window frame materials will accommodate internal glazing; this is when the window pane can only be removed from the inside, thus increasing security. Another way to increase security is to install windows with locks. Most UPVC windows come with multipoint locks as standard.
Up until recently, wood was always regarded as the most aesthetically pleasing material for window frames however advancements in the industry mean that UPVC windows are now available in wood grain effects.
Wood still holds an advantage over UPVC in terms of style because you can change the colour of a wooden frame by painting it, whereas UPVC windows are designed so that they don’t need repainting. Aluminium can also be painted but like wood, correct maintenance requires will require you to then repaint every year.
If you have an awkwardly shaped window and need a customised frame, it will be harder to get a UPVC window because they tend to come in precast sizes. In this case, wood or aluminium would be a more suitable choice.
Much debate surrounds the question of which material is the most environmentally friendly. Wood is only a renewable resource when it is sourced from sustainable forests. UPVC contains chemicals that are harmful to the environment if they are emitted during manufacture. Wood is biodegradable and UPVC can end up in landfill where harmful chemicals can leech into the soil.
On the other hand, UPVC has strong insulative properties so it keeps heat in in the winter and it keeps heat out in the summer. This means that less energy is wasted for heating and air conditioning. It is also possible to recycle old UPVC and use it to make new UPVC.