Choosing new windows?
New windows can give your home a facelift, make it a more comfortable place to live and boost kerb appeal. Here’s what you should know when choosing new windows.
Walk down any street in the UK and you will see a high proportion of houses have white, identikit uPVC windows. But if you’re replacing your windows, it’s important to be aware there is a range of stylish alternatives, including European oak and slimline aluminium in traditional and contemporary styles. Plus, there are many different designs available from inward and outward opening, turn and tilt, double casement, sliding sash, bay and circular. The choice can be bewildering.
When choosing windows, you can see how they look but not how they perform. To check how energy efficient a window product is, look for the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) rating label from A+++ to E. An A+ rated window is more energy efficient than a C rated window. The BFRC rating also takes into account how much warm air can escape and how much heat from the sun passes through the window (solar gain).
Unless your house is listed or in a conservation area, windows must be at least double glazed to meet building regulations. Bespoke secondary glazing behind the existing glass is often the only choice for listed buildings because it is reversible and so acceptable to heritage bodies.
Whether you’re looking to replacing existing timber windows, or simply add a touch of classic style to your home, wooden windows can add value, are long-lasting and eco-friendly which is a real plus. They may be hardwood, such as oak, or durable softwood frames, such as Accoya. Timber is a popular choice for refurbishing Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian homes but is also suitable for all kinds of new-builds from eco-homes to traditional townhouses and country cottages.
One of the advantages of timber window frames is they can be painted almost any colour to suit your personal preferences. On the downside, timber frames need repainting every few years and can be pricey. Check there’s an anti-rot warranty.
Budget: Between £8,000 and £20,000 for hardwood and £6,000 and £15,000 for softwood
Slimline and strong, metal windows can preserve and enhance the look of your property. Metals, such as aluminium, are easy to work with, typically resulting in thinner frames than with wood or uPVC; affording better views. Metal framed designs are associated with Art Deco and Modernist buildings. Thanks to their industrial look, they also suit contemporary buildings with 21st century levels of performance. The downside? Condensation can be a problem because metal frames get colder than wood or plastic. That said, modern aluminium frames come with a ‘thermal break’ which improves insulation and reduces condensation. The average cost is broadly similar to wood windows.
Budget: Between £8,000 and £20,000.
Composite frames are a good choice for those who like the look of wood but prefer the low maintenance of metal. Typically made with an engineered soft or hardwood internal frame with aluminium strips fitted externally to provide an all-weather capping. The sleek aluminium frames can be powder-coated in a wide range of colours in gloss, matt or satin to suit individual tastes. Composite frames combined with triple glazing are among the most thermally efficient and sometimes seen in home achieving Passihaus standards. They don’t come cheap, however.
Budget: Expect to pay between £10,000 and £25,000 - more if triple-glazed.
If you’re on a tight budget, uPVC windows are the most cost-effective solution and low maintenance. Once known for chunky, white frames, they are now more sophisticated and stylish. Most companies now offer an array of styles and colours, including Georgian-style vertical sliding sashes and wood-effect finishes. On the downside, uPVC frames are difficult to repair and can become discoloured and brittle over time. Plus, uPVC is reliant on oil supplies which will eventually run out, so they’re not especially green although manufacturers now recycle old plastic frames.
Budget plastic windows can devalue older homes that have character as a main selling point. If you go for uPVC frames, invest in the best you can afford and look for designs with detailing to complement the features of your home.
Budget: Approx. between £10,000 and £15,000
Do you need permission?
If your new windows are of similar appearance to the original ones, there’s no need to apply for planning permission. Installing rooflights or a new bay window may, however, require council consent. Check planningportal.gov.uk for guidance. If you live in a listed property and want to alter its external appearance you must apply for listed building consent from your local planning authority. Similarly, if you live in a conservation area, contact the council’s conservation officer for advice.
The style of windows you choose will have a major effect on the look of your home and could increase or decrease its value. So, it’s vital to consider the pros and cons of different materials – wooden, metal, composite and uPVC – as well as cost.