The Benefits of UPVC Plastic vs. Wood

Often I get asked if I supply Wood Windows and Doors to which my answer is always no. In an effort to highlight why,  I have decided to explain the benefits of using UPVC products over traditional timber.

Whilst I will try to be as objective as possible I do have a vested interest in UPVC Windows and Doors. I actually do like Wood windows and certainly some of the higher end doors are fabulous looking products. I feel in particular with Wood it is important to buy the very best you can afford to counter the downsides.

I look to address all of the aspects that I feel pertinent to this post as separate points and as a starting point for both UPVC and Wood products I will disregard the ‘value’ and ‘budget’ areas. I do not supply this so it is not fair to compare premium UPVC products against cheap and nasty Wood versions.

 

  • Aesthetics

This is always a high concern for prospective customers. Particularly with older properties everyone is keen to keep the character which I entirely agree with. Wood windows and doors do fit the bill nicely for that reason however a well designed and installed UPVC window really does compliment the property.

If white is a bit too bright for some tastes then either darker, woodgrain colours are available or also what is quite possible is White woodgrain and cream woodgrain. It is a foiled product that has the same texture as the Golden Oak and Rosewood colours but the are a lot more subtle colour and really do give a good imitation of wood windows without the downsides.

  • Profile widths

I often get asked about the new UPVC window frame being much larger than the old wooden frames- they are. The thing is that is would be like comparing a Ford Model T to a new Ford Mondeo- two totally different products for different times.

I had the opportunity recently to measure for some replacement windows which had good quality Wood windows installed. The width of the wood frame to the glass was 10cm, The width of the comparable UPVC frame to the glass line would be 12cm.  So whilst you would get slightly more visible glass area in a Wood window, the difference really is very minor.

  • Draughts and sealing aspects

Whilst wood windows and doors do have gasket seals in place round the edge they tend to be a slightly different design which in my opinion is not as good as the UPVC gaskets. The UPVC gaskets are co-extruded in the profile during manufacture and are basically a tube of rubber round the edges of the windows.  There is also more adjustment on the locking points that enable the windows and doors to be pulled in tight.  On Wooden windows and doors this tend to be a fixed locking point with no adjustment for when it starts to wear they just become draughty and can rattle in the wind.

  • Maintainance

Traditionally one of the big selling points of UPVC is that they are a low maintainance item. Basically as long as hinges and locking mechanisms are periodically oiled and a regular wipe down with warm soapy water on the frames they will work well and continue to look good for many years.

With Wood products you need to be painting or varnishing them every couple years to keep them in a good order and not looking tatty. Again the key here is to use very good quality products otherwise it will be flaking off after a year. Without regular treatment they will start to look very shoddy quickly and will increase the deterioration and promote water ingress which will lead to leaks and rotting.

In both cases most windows do not have separate panes of glass which makes cleaning easier but with older windows when the putty starts to crack and fall out this needs replacing otherwise it increases the rate of deterioration.

  • Longevity

In both cases they can last well. It depends on various factors including styles used, location and most importantly maintainance. Often I take windows out that are the flimsy old original ones over a hundred years old. Quite often the wood is still solid all round it- some do literally fall out!

I cannot honestly see UPVC windows lasting a hundred years, not because the plastic will deteriorate but more likely due to failure in hinges/locks or the glass units themselves. This is exactly the same for wooden windows now though.

Stand a UPVC window with the locks and hinges on the product I supply against a comparable Wood product and you would be surprised at the different in quality of the components used and their ability to last, and last well.

 

  • Finishing

Customers often underestimate the importance of well finished windows and doors, by this I mean the silicons and trims used to compliment the installation.

Typically with Wood products they are sealed externally with silicon or similar products, regardless of holes/cracks/crevices. Rarely are timber architraves used to cover and finish any gaps.

UPVC products and indeed on our installations we carry numerous different styles and sizes of trims to finish the Windows and Doors internally and externally as well as possible. This has two purposes, it gives it a far superior look and finish and also reduces the amount of silicon, and particularly large gaps of silicon being visible. UPVC as noted before just needs a wipe down to be clean again. Sealants tend to take more effort to clean up well and attract muck and dust- so the smaller the silicon lines, the better.

  • Costs

Always an important consideration is the cost, and whilst the initial cost of installation of the new Windows and Doors are not too dissimilar depending on your specification and the company chosen, the main benefit is seen in the long term.

This is where UPVC wins over the wood option, there are no reoccurring costs involved. Wood on the other hand requires re treating every couple years or so to keep them in good shape. Maintainance, either ‘DIY’ or with professional tradesmen is going to take a lot of time and/or money to keep the Wood Windows and Doors in good shape.

  • Warranties

As I tell all my prospective clients, I have to supply a product that I am happy to warranty for ten years and put my name to. I want to be safe in the knowledge that I am providing a very good product that will last the customers well and hopefully have no/minimal remedial calls to adjust or replace components.

I am not confident that I could offer the same level of service and quality in the form of Wood products

  • Movement

Movement of the Window and door sashes is often a result of the expansion and contraction of the profile – UPVC or Wood. In UPVC, this is expected and to counter it the openers are fitted accordingly so that minimal future adjustment should be required. There are various points of adjustments on all Windows and Doors to correct any movement or settlement that may have occurred so they continue to work well.

Wood products also expand and contract under the temperature fluctuations but additionally, they can be affected by rain swelling the framework and what is often seen are gaps round the edge of older windows or they have swollen and are rubbing in the middle.

A big issue is that over time the weight of the sash causes the shape of the sash to sag and distort leaving the windows catching at the bottom but with gaps at the top. The problem comes in correcting this- the only way is to plane off the bottom of the window for it to shut correctly but the gap at the top remains as does the sagging look and shape.

There is no adjustment on wood windows generally, the hinges are wound into the sides of the openers and are fixed. Often to counter the sagging nature the sashes are lifted off and washes are put on the hinge pin to effectively lift the door up- sometimes as much as 6/7mm I have seen!

 

 

If you have made it this far well done!!

Hopefully I have been able to highlight the benefits of UPVC Windows and Doors over traditional Wood options. I have not provided this to berate Wood options but rather to highlight the upsides of going down the UPVC route- ultimately there is a reason that it is so popular.

My last word on the matter would be to say that if you are looking to change your windows or doors it is a big expenditure, it makes a massive, immediate difference to your property and done right it will enhance it- it is easy to get it wrong by installing odd styles or instructing poor quality Artisans so take your time and get it right first time.

 

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