Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Window Buying Guide

Choosing Replacement Windows – Your Options

So you need new windows for your home? There is a lot to consider in making the right choice to suit the look of your home, energy efficiency needs and ultimately your budget. As a leading supplier of windows in Dublin, Asgard Windows knows how challenging this process can be, so we have put together this simple guide to buying replacement windows that will outline your window options and so make it a little easier.
You can also click the link to read our other Replacement Windows Articles including Energy Efficiency.

Replacement Window Options – Materials

There are many materials that are used for windows in homes. However, the two most common materials are wood and uPVC (also called PVCu or simply PVC). There are advantages and disadvantages to both. One major requirement for most people is to have very low or zero maintenance and on the whole wood window frames will require more maintenance in the long-run, requiring a degree sanding and/or painting every 3 to 5 years. However, if you live near the sea or up in the mountains where the temperature variations and winds are more extreme throughout the year, then wood windows are not the best choice as the environment will degrade the wood much faster and so will require significantly more maintenance.
On the other hand, quality uPVC will typically be cheaper than an equivalent wood window and will require virtually no maintenance, apart from the occasional clean. You can get them in virtually any colour and if you want a wood feel, but without the maintenance associated, you can opt for a wood-grain finish, although again quality is everything to get a realistic look.
Ultimately the decision is purely an aesthetic and budgetary one. In extreme circumstances (on new builds) the planning permission may only be given if you install wooden frames. However, on the whole, Ireland’s most popular choice for new windows is uPVC.

Replacement Window Options – Window Types

Windows fall into 3 main types as follows:

Casement Windows:

Casement windows are so called because they are constructed using a number of ‘casements’ to form the window. The casement is essentially one fixed or hinged panel containing a single window or two windows split in the middle by a glazing bar. Hinges can be placed at the side or at the top and it is for this reason that casement windows are very popular in Ireland. During very warm and dry days the large side hinged windows can be opened, while on wet days a top hinged small window can be opened to allow fresh air in while keeping rain out.

Sash Windows:

Sash windows or double-hung windows, as they are also known, are constructed with two overlapping panels that slide vertically or horizontally across one another. This creates a large opening when fully opened, which is excellent for ventilation, but will also let in any rain. For historic buildings you will often find that sash windows constructed from wood are the typical choice and indeed renovations to listed/historic buildings will often require period-style sash windows to be installed to secure planning permission.
Modern sash windows also allow individual panels to be tilted to create small ventilation spaces in a similar way to casement windows.

Tilt & Turn Windows:

Tilt & Turn windows are the latest in modern design (although they have been available in similar forms since the 1900’s). A clever configuration of hinges and locks allows the whole window to tilt inwards to create a small gap for ventilation or with an alternate twist of the handle the window opens horizontally just like a casement window.

Replacement Window Options – Dividers And Leaded Lites

Windows in historic buildings typically contain multiple small panes of glass separated by dividers. This was a manufacturing requirement back then because glass makers were limited as to how large they could make the panes. These days dividers are purely aesthetic and can be used to match any historical period from Tudor to Georgian and Edwardian.

Replacement Window Options – Glazing Options

It is a known fact that single glazed windows are highly inefficient, both from an energy and sound insulation perspective. Based on this the most popular option used in most homes are double-glazed windows. These are made from two panes of specially constructed glass bonded together with a space in between. This gap in original double-glazing was filled with air, which in itself has good insulation properties. However, modern double-glazing uses argon in the space between the panes. As it’s an inert gas, it has far superior insulation properties for both energy and sound.
Triple-glazing works on the principle that if two panes of glass with a single gap between them is good, then three panes of glass with two gaps between them must be better. Indeed, tests show that triple glazing can improve heat loss and noise pollution by as much as a third compared to double-glazing, so if heat conservation or noise reduction is important then triple glazing is an excellent option.

Replacement Window Options – Glass Options

The glass used in your replacement windows can also be supplied in a number of treatments including...

Energy Conservation:

A metallic coating can be applied to the glass to increase its reflective properties in order to keep heat out in the summer for coolness and keep heat in during the winter months for a warm, cosy room. This is known as ‘Low E’ or ‘low-emissivity’ glass.

Acoustic Glass:

Acoustic glass consists of sheets of glass bonded to multiple interlayers of acoustic dampening laminate material. These layers have a dampening effect on sound waves as they pass from one sheet of glass to the next and dramatically reduce the noise that makes it through. This glass is ideal for homes close to major roads or in cities and can also be effective against the sound of rain hitting the window.

Replacement Window Options – Energy Rating

The energy efficiency of glass uses a similar rating system as used in BER ratings for homes with AAA being the most energy-saving and G being the least. Most windows sold these days have an A or B rating. The rating applies to the glass used and also the construction of and materials used in the frame. Obviously the higher the rating desired, the more expensive the window.

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