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Don’t settle for second best – timber is the top choice for modern windows and doors

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Don’t settle for second best – timber is the top choice for modern windows and doors

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Enjoy the traditional look of timber – but without the cost or maintenance issues!” In a nutshell, that statement is the main marketing message from the ‘timber-look’ window and door market.

Sounds like a compelling reason to choose PVC-u, but is it actually true? According to Sean Parnaby, managing director of leading timber fabricator West Port Windows & Doors, it’s a misleading statement…

“The argument that timber windows are expensive and difficult to maintain is very outdated,” explains Sean. “In fact, modern timber windows offer better long-term value than uPVC, and require very little upkeep in order to retain their good looks and performance.”

Sean backs his claim by explaining that modern timber windows are made from laminated, engineered timber, which is far stronger and much less prone to deforming than the softwoods used in the past.

“Once upon a time, timber products were far from perfect,” Sean comments. “They were made of softwoods, susceptible to rotting and warping when exposed to the elements, and genuinely did require regular maintenance to keep in good condition.

“But that was decades ago. Joinery has come on leaps and bounds in the time since – and modern wood windows offer an amazing opportunity for installers to appeal to aspirational end users, improve their margins and grow their businesses.

“All a modern engineered timber window needs is a light sanding and re-coating once every ten years to keep it in top condition. What’s more, it’ll last you at least sixty years, which is considerably better value than the thirty-year lifespan of a uPVC window.”

Is uPVC more energy efficient than timber?

What about the fact that many homeowners and installers have also been led to believe that uPVC is the most thermally efficient, environmentally friendly option on the market?

“That’s also false,” Sean says. “A unit’s energy efficiency is determined by the glass, not the frame – and far from being the greenest option available, uPVC is actually the worst polluter among window materials. Making a uPVC window pumps 160kg more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than making a timber one does.”

Leading the way in fire resistance

According to Sean, the same goes for claims that plastic products offer excellent fire resistance. “uPVC windows can contain lead, cadmium and mercury, and melt when exposed to extreme heat, releasing harmful chemicals that can cause permanent respiratory problems and other serious illnesses. The best fire door products are made of timber.”

Is uPVC suitable for conservation areas?

What about uPVC in conservation areas? Isn’t it true that high-end plastic products have been accepted in a number of conservation areas, and offer a much cheaper alternative to genuine timber replacements?

“Firstly, the price difference between a high-end timber-alternative window and a genuine timber one can be as little as 10%,” claims Sean. “And while it’s true that timber-alternative products have been cleared for use in a small number of conservation areas, in the vast majority of cases uPVC doesn’t make the grade.

“Many manufacturers like to make out that, by adding vintage detailing to their plastic products, they’ve got a much better chance of them getting accepted. But the truth is, conservation officers aren’t looking for a window that looks like a timber one. They’re looking for a window that exactly matches the specific design of timber window that was traditionally made in the area in question.

“A timber-alternative window might have a mock run-through sash horn, for example – but that’s just a standard piece of plastic. It might look nothing like the design of horn that the town’s local joiner used to make in the nineteenth century, and that’s therefore on every historic window in the area.

“It’s that level of attention to detail that conservation officers are looking for – and that’s exactly the sort of service we provide at West Port Windows,” Sean concludes.

About West Port Windows

Operating from a 175,000-square foot factory in Maryport, Cumbria, and backed by VKR, Europe’s biggest fenestration group, West Port Windows combine state-of-the-art manufacturing with time-honoured craftsmanship to produce the best timber windows and doors in the country.

The company’s product range is among the widest of any timber fabricator in the industry, encompassing everything from casement, vertical-sliding sash, tilt and turn windows and entrance doors to a variety of more complicated products like French doors, in-line sliding patio doors and aluminium-clad composite windows.

For more information call West Port Windows & Doors on 01900 814225 or visit www.west-port.co.uk

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