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Comparison Of House Windows

When it comes to constructing a new home, doing some extensions or renovations or just replacing old ones, people are often daunted as to what type of window they should use. There are many options available, and often people can end up with windows which were marketed to them the best rather that ones that would suit them the best. This article will compare different types of glass and windows and also weigh up the pros and cons of each one so that consumers can make an informed choice.

Timber Windows

Timber windows are the oldest and once most common type of window. With the advent of different styles and types of windows, timber windows are now somewhat of a rarity and are now mainly used to suit certain styles of colonial style homes.

Pros

Energy efficiency – Timber windows are poor conductors of heat, meaning that there is very little heat transfer between inside and outside the home.

Paintable – Timber windows have the advantage of being able to change colours with little effort. Unlike their counterparts it is quite easy to just mask the glass areas and change the colour, or even just turn it into a natural finish with varnish.

Easy to repair – Timber windows are quite easy to repair if they suffer any dents or nicks. Just add some putty, sand and then paint and the damage will no longer be visible.

Cons

Replacing glass – It can be extremely difficult changing glass panels or repairing broken panes on timber windows. It is often a long and tedious task hacking out all of the putty and trying to clear the glass from the edges.

Unsuitability to double glazing – Timber windows are often unsuitable when using double glazing, as the putty system makes it difficult to get the seal which is required between the two panes of glass.

Longevity – Timber windows are more prone to rotting and decay compared to other types of windows, and are also prone to termite attacks.

timber_window.jpg

Modern Timber Window1)

Aluminium Windows

Aluminium windows were the most commonly used and highest selling types of windows used for the best part of four decades. These windows are still popular, but the popularity in uPVC windows and the rising costs of aluminium production have seen a shift away from these types.

Pros

Weight – Aluminium windows are lightweight and easy to install and easy to remove the sashes for cleaning.

Strength – Aluminium is seen to be a good choice for areas that are prone to high winds due to its strength. Putting creases in aluminium frames can increase the strength many times over.

Choice of colours – Due to aluminium being mainly powder coated, they can be any colour that you desire. For areas that are prone to erosion, such as beach side localities, aluminium windows can be anodised in order to limit salt damage.

Cons

Poor energy efficiency – Aluminium is a good conductor of heat, so aluminium windows will tend to aid heat enter inside the house in the summer and escape outside during the winter.

Repair – It is very hard to remove any dents and blemishes from aluminium windows without completely removing the window from the wall.

Colour – Unlike timber, you cannot change the colour of aluminium windows due to the fact that they are powder coated or anodised. There are some services which can powder coat your windows at home but this is a very costly exercise.

aluminium_window.jpg

Aluminium Window2)

uPVC Windows

uPVC windows are the newest type of windows that have proven to be extremely popular, especially in the United States and Europe. Despite their popularity in these areas, uPVC windows have failed to make inroads into the bigger markets of South East Asia and Australia.

Pros

Energy efficiency - uPVC windows are very poor conductors of heat, making them an excellent choice when it comes to efficiency.

Durability – uPVC is extremely durable against weather and does not decay, especially in areas of high salt content such as beach side homes. It is also extremely hard to dent, break or damage the main frames.

Double glazing – uPVC windows are the best option for double glazing, as they create a very seal between the panes of glass.

Cons

Discolouring – In certain situations uPVC windows can fade and discolour after long periods in the sun. Whilst this is improving all the time, it is one of the current cons of these windows.

Colour choice – At present there are very few colour options when it comes to uPVC windows. The darker colours can tent to show specks of impurities.

Testing – uPVC windows have not been tested extensively in areas of extreme heat. There are some claims that the frames can twist at high heat and there may be a possibility of the frames starting to break down and releasing toxins, although this is speculative at best.

PVC Window Profile

Other Types Of Windows

There are some other types of windows and window frames, such as hybrid windows made of a combination of timber and aluminium joined together which makes the window energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing. Another type is what is called a thermally broken window, which is essentially two aluminium windows joined together with a plastic divider in between in order to break the transfer of heat from inside to outside and vice versa. Steel windows were also used in the early days, however they conduct too much heat and are not user friendly so are now extremely rare.

Float Glass

Float glass gets its name from the process used to form the glass. Melted silicon is 'floated' on top of molten lead in order to form its shape into large sheets. This type of glass has been used for over 100 years, however is becoming less popular with the emergence of better techniques and better quality glass types. Float glass is an inexpensive options but it has its drawbacks in regards to energy efficiency, however tinting the glass can improve the ratings somewhat. Safety is also an issue that has been identified with float glass, as it tends to create shards when broken which can cause serious cuts.

float_glass_production.jpg

Float Glass Production3)

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is two pieces of float glass that are stuck together with a thin film of clear plastic. This type of glass is much more energy efficient than plain float glass, but its real benefit is sound reduction. The film that separates the two pieces of glass muffles sound waves making it a great option for areas of high noise and traffic. Laminated glass is also much safer, as the glass sticks to the film when broken, reducing the potential for cuts and also avoids leaving a hole in the window.

Double Glazing

Double glazing is where two pieces of float glass are set inside a frame with a sealed pocket of air or argon gas in between. It is an excellent insulator and is used in areas where temperature control is important, such as extreme cold or heat. Double glazing is used extensively in the colder regions of Europe and the United States.

Toughened Glass

Toughened glass is float glass that has been strengthened. The glass is put into a semi-molten state and then blasted with cold air in order to create a tough outer crust. Toughened glass is mainly used in sliding doors and also toilet or bathroom windows. It is harder to break and when broken the glass turns into several small crystals thus reducing the risk of cuts.

Other Types Of Glass

There are several other types of glass, such as mirrored glass, screen printed glass and self cleaning glass but the aforementioned are what will be used in home windows on most occasions.

Recommendations

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, it is important to choose the correct type of window for your needs. There will always be considerations such as budget, availability of materials and local suppliers. You should take into account factors such as heat, cold, safety and energy efficiency. Always remember that you may pay a little more up front for the more energy efficient windows but you will end up saving money in the long run. If you live in areas of extreme cold or heat, uPVC windows with double glazing would be the best option, however this also depends on personal choice. You can use this article as a guide and avoid being talked into something that you may not need.

Home Improvement

1) Modern Timber Window by Otgg licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Timber_sash_window.jpg
2) Aluminium Window by Oregon Department of Transportation licence CC 2.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Window_Installation_(5731233397).jpg
3) Float Glass by ICAPlants licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Float_Glass_Unloading.jpg

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