A Buyer’s Guide To Double Glazing

A short guide to help you buy the right double glazing at the right price!

Replacing windows on your property can change its visual appearance considerably. It’s important to select a style that matches your property and enhances its looks, especially when fitting PVCu and aluminium designs to older properties. It often helps to look at similar, neighbouring properties to compare the effect of various replacement window types.

Planning permission is usually only required in the case of listed buildings and conservation areas or if, for example, you are converting a flat window into a bow or bay window. If in doubt, check with the planning department of your local authority.

Ensure that you will have an adequate number of opening windows. Some double glazing salesmen offer designs with very few openings. The simpler the design and the fewer the openings, the cheaper the windows will be. But the cost might end up higher than you think as inferior windows can turn out to be a bad investment and even lower the value of the property. It is not uncommon for potential property buyers to negotiate a reduced price on these grounds.

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When buying PVCu windows you should enquire whether the windows are fully welded or whether some parts (transoms/midrails) are mechanically fixed. Mechanical fixing is generally a cheaper way of manufacturing and it is possible with wear and tear, especially on doors, that the mechanical (screw) fixing will split apart, weakening the frames and reducing performance.

While mechanical fixing is not necessarily a bad thing – especially if done correctly – preference should be given to fully welded structures, particularly if all other elements, such as price and quality of supplier, are similar. The only exception to this might be for wood grain-style PVCu frames when a mechanical fixing can look neater – especially with regard to how the ‘grain’ finish on the PVCu frames ‘runs’. Your potential supplier can give you a detailed explanation of this.

When choosing your windows, look for the energy saving recommended logo. Like electrical equipment, window products are assessed on a rating of A to G, A being the most efficient. The assessment is based on the whole window, not just the glass or seals, and the grades are issued by the British Fenestration Ratings Council. For more information on reducing energy requirements click here

Fitting double glazing in replacement windows will provide some insulation from noise. However if your primary motivation for fitting double glazing is to reduce sound then secondary glazing, in which a new single glazed frame is fitted in front of the existing (prime) window frame, will be more effective. The greater the gap between the two panes, the better the sound insulation.

It is prudent to enquire about the type of locks and security features being fitted to your windows and doors. Most modern double glazed replacement windows feature multi-point, espagnolette-type locking, which will also lock partially open in a ‘night vent’ position. It may be possible to upgrade to shoot-bolt locking or SAC bolt locks for additional security. Options for doors include the ‘Entry Guard’, a type of security chain that allows you to partially open the door and view visitors. Always enquire what comes as standard and what upgrades are available – it is often the case that for a little extra cost you can have a substantially better locking system.

There is much debate about internally beaded windows versus externally beaded windows on PVCu units. If the beads holding in the glass are on the inside of the window it will be more difficult for a burglar to remove the glass and enter your home. However, some suppliers of externally beaded windows will fit special glazing gaskets and double-sided tape to the frame and sealed unit in order to improve the security – some claim this elevates the security levels to those associated with internal beading. Always ask if the windows have any special ‘easy escape’ or ‘fire escape’ features. Special hinges can be fitted to help with this but these are not usually standard items and will increase the cost. Don’t be tempted to skimp on this, though, as compromising on safety features is a false economy.

>> Compare double glazing prices online and save up to 75%

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