If you’re considering replacing your existing windows with brand new double glazing, which materials should you select for the frame and for the glass itself? With six main types of frame and eight main types of glazing, there is a lot for you to choose from so it’s important for you to know the choices that are available to you before you look for quotes.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- the types of window frames most commonly available
- which frame material suits which type of home
- what choices do you have on what material your glass is made from
- finding a double glazing installer you can trust
The three most popular double glazing frame materials are uPVC, aluminium, and softwood. What is the size of a budget that you’d need to allocate for standard double glazing glass in the three most popular types of frame depending on the size of your property including installation?
|Type of property||Windows needed||uPVC||Aluminium||Softwood|
Of course, while these are useful guide prices, you need to speak to actual installers and you need to show them around your home to tell them what it is that you want doing to find out the real costs. The best way to get the very cheapest price on the windows you want is by speaking with 3-4 installers – we’ll show you how later on in this article.
With most British manufacturers producing uPVC windows which are fully recyclable, uPVC windows are slowly losing their reputation as the least environmentally friendly type of window frames. In fact, if caring for the environment is important to you as it is to most of us, make sure you ask an installer to specify fully recyclable frames for your home.
uPVC window frames don’t require maintenance and, in terms of looks and finish, they can be a very aesthetically-pleasing addition to your home.
Hardwood windows, because of their cost (up to 40-50% more than uPVC windows), are growing in popularity both for their looks and their enhanced durability over many decades after they have been professionally fitted.
Owners of older, more traditional style homes are the types of homeowners most likely to choose this option because of the more “authentic” appearance it lends to a period property.
The least expensive of the two wood options, softwood frames are very durable and long-lasting. They look superb on whichever type of property they installed on and you can either stain or paint the wood to your personal preference.
They do require painting every year however and, price-wise, they cost up to 30-40% more than standard uPVC windows.
Still only a very small part of the UK market, composite windows are essentially a hybrid of timber windows with weather-proof additions. They’re particularly common in countries around the world with harsher climates, they look exactly like wooden windows inside, and are very low-maintenance.
Perhaps the most environmentally-friendly of all framing options, aluminium windows consume the least amount of energy both in their production and their later recycling.
Aluminium window frames offer homeowners the slimmest sightlines for the best views possible outside. Aluminium window frames are also very customisable to your particular aesthetic tastes with manufacturers able to produce them in a variety of different shades and styles (including the ability to give them a woodgrain effect).
What material should I use for my type of home?
Newer home or flat
For the last 50 years or more, uPVC has been the choice for nearly two-thirds of British homeowners. uPVC windows come as standard on new build home and flats all across the UK.
You can customise uPVC a lot more than you ever could before with a wide choice of styles and frame colours.
The “Grand Designs” type of home
Metal/aluminium windows lets in more light than any other type of window frame because the frames are much slimmer and they fit really flush into the walls of your home.
When light is at a premium (for example, in a basement flat in London and most major UK cities), aluminium frames will also let a lot more daylight into your home.
Older, more traditional housing
Prior to the 1960s, most window frames were wooden and these wooden frames lent both style elegance to the more traditional type of housing and property they were installed in.
If your home is a classic home, you can replace your existing wooden single glazing panes with wooden double glazing frames. You can even replicate timeless styles like sliding slashes and timber casement windows with modern wooden double-glazing frames.
What material should your double glazing panes be made from?
Companies across the UK offer homeowners eight different types of glass they can choose from for their brand new double glazing installation.
Each one has different properties which make it unique so be sure to ask your installer which one is most likely to deliver the result you want. In addition, the more energy efficient the glass you choose, the more expensive it will be however you will make greater savings in the long run on your gas and electricity bills the more energy efficient you go.
Annealed glass (or “standard glass”) is the cheapest type of glass. It’s still very tough (it can withstand six thousands pounds per square inch of pressure) and it looks just as good as the other types of glass you can choose (with the exception of the decorative glass).
Between the two panes of annealed glass is argon gas – this gives the glass real strength because of argon’s superior shock absorption properties.Tempered and toughened glass
Tempered or toughened glass is the same as annealed glass except that it gets its extra strength from being baked in an oven to 620OC after which the manufacturer very quickly cools it back down.
Tempered glass has a very long lifespan and, unlike annealed glass, if it breaks, it breaks up into very small pieces instead of into long shards. If you have kids around the house, this extra safety feature may be an important factor. Expect to pay a premium of around 25% over the price of annealed glass if you choose toughened glass.
Building regulations require that, if you’re replacing a window that’s lower than 80cm from floor level, 30cm or less from a door or up to a metre and a half from the level of the floor, you have to use toughened glass.
It may well be that, despite choosing a different material you choose for the glass for the rest of your home, the company you work with will put in toughened glass in certain parts of your home so that your installation is compliant.
Sometimes called “security glass” or “safety glass”, laminated glass is essentially the same as tempered or toughened glass except that it has a plastic interlayer which holds the glass in place in case it’s broken. The technology is very similar to that used on car windscreens and shop fronts. Laminated glass costs about 40% more than annealed glass and 10% more than tempered glass.
Laminated glass can handle up to 24,000psi of pressure making it incredibly difficult to break. However, if it does break, only a tiny amount of glass may escape from the plastic interlayer – the cracking and breaking in your window will resemble a spider-web pattern.
Low E glass
Sometimes called “coated glass”, low-E glass features a transparent metal coating which allows heat to come in from the outside and to be reflected back into your rooms.
Low-E glass makes your home cool and temperate in the summer and warm and cost in the winter.
Manufactured by Pilkington Glass and Saint Gobain (each of which use separate coating techniques), low-E glass costs around 25% than annealed glass.
Self-cleaning glass actually gets rid of the dust and other marks that collect on your windows all by itself. It sounds impossible but the science behind it is very clever.
The glass is coated with titanium dioxide and this coating is so thin that it stops just 5% of the light that would come into your home with standard annealed glass. The titanium dioxide is triggered by the UV rays of the sun and when that happens, water molecules are grabbed from the air.
The titanium dioxide and the water then react to create something new called “hydroxyl radicals”. These radical particle then break down anything organic that’s collected on your window and this organic material is washed away when it rains.
If it doesn’t rain, the cleaning process is slower but it still happens because the titanium dioxide grabs moisture in the air and then evenly spreads it out over the surface of the pain. The force of gravity then pushes down the film of water down the pane that’s been created by the moisture leaving it free of dust, fingerprints, and more.
Self-cleaning glass costs about 20% more than standard annealed glass, it has great insulation properties, and it really blocks out sound from the outside too.
Noise control glass
With noise control glass, there is a special interlayer inside your double glazing panel whose job it is to dampen noise waves travelling through it before it hits the inner pane of glass. Manufacturers claim that it can reduce noise by up to 75% compared with annealed glass.
Expect to pay an additional 25% for noise control glass over standard glass.
Fire protection glass
Fire protection glass holds back smoke as well as fire. Annealed glass breaks at around 500oF however fire protection glass can withstand up to 1,600oF for up to 3 hours.
Homeowners now have more choice than ever about how their double glazing looks as additional design elements can be built into the frames and the glass itself.
The decorative elements (like different colours of glass melted together, stained glass, and etched glass) don’t affect the performance of the window at all in terms of energy efficiency, safety, fire-resistance, and so on.
There is a premium to pay for decorative glass and that premium depends on how complex and ornate you with the decoration on your double glazing to be.
Getting the best quote
If you’re installing new windows in your home and you want to know which materials to use for the frame and for the glass, the best person to speak to is a trained and professional installer. Installers spend all their time working with homeowners and company owners to choose the right double glazing for their premises based upon what it is their customer wants to achieve.
It’s always better to speak to more than one installer though. Why? Some installers will have a wider range of manufacturers they can go to so they’re able to get the framing and glazing materials you want. Other installers will be able to offer special deals to keep their fitters working rather than having them sit idle.
Every company is different and one of them will have the right deal for you.
At CompareCompanies, we work with CERTASS- and/or FENSA-certified double glazing installers up and down the country putting them in touch with homeowners ready to receive quotes on their new double glazing. Just fill in the form on this page and we’ll connect you with 3 or 4 experienced specialists who can quote you and who can give you the advice and the support you need in making the right decision.
Our service is free, the quotes provided by our partner installers are free, and there’s no obligation at all on you to accept a quote that one of our partner installers give you.