Joinery, Doors and Windows
After the choice of brick and tile style, the next most important features that decides the look of a house are the doors and windows. Both are available in a wide range of styles and designs allowing you to tailor the final design of your house to your exact requirements but there is also a varied choice of material to choose from. There are three main materials for both doors and windows and one extra choice just for doors. The main three are:
- Softwood is the most common material for window frames in new builds as it has the benefits of cheapness while maintaining a traditional look. Although many householders will relate the misery associated with old softwood windows rotting away, the modern versions are pressure treated with preservative and often sport a long warranty against rot.
- uPVC is mostly associated with replacement windows, rather than new builds, but has many followers based on the low maintenance requirements compared to traditional softwood windows making them a fit and forget solution. uPVC windows and doors will not warp in damp conditions but they can expand in very hot weather causing the occasional jam although they will return to normal when the weather cools. The only downside compared to their wooden counterparts is that the frames are often larger which can look slightly odd on smaller windows and in some door designs. Finally, uPVC does not need to be white - many companies now offer their range with wood effect finishes that can look very effective.
- Hardwood doors and windows are highly prized as they maintain a solid charm while being able to show off the beauty of the natural wood they are made from. Traditionally very expensive, prices are becoming more affordable and are well worth considering.
The extra choice for doors is steel or fibreglass construction. Broadly manufactured the same way, the inner and outer skins of the door are made from either steel or fibreglass formed into a traditional multi-panel design. The two layers then sandwich a layer of expanded foam insulation material which, overall, forms a sturdy, rot free door. As with uPVC these are almost maintenance free and are often chosen in preference as uPVC doors can also look a little utilitarian from the inside as the hinges are almost always on show rather than hidden away in the frame.
Buildbase offers a great choice of both doors and windows and can supply virtually any type or style of door or window as required.
Garage doors are available in fibreglass, metal and wood construction in a wide variety of styles and sizes to suit every application.
One ever popular feature of many individually built modern houses is the use of large areas of glass to form either all or part of an external wall to bring in more natural light and increase the sense of openness of a property. Although highly stylish and desirable one note of caution should be sounded. Even when double or triple glazed to the latest standards, and fitted snugly in their frame to prevent draughts, windows are still responsible for the greatest heat loss from a building. The larger the glazed area the greater the loss. Currently Pilkington-K glass claims the best insulating characteristics but even with its U-value of 1.9 it will lose over five times as much energy as a comparable section of insulated cavity wall.
While nobody is suggesting that all windows should be no larger than portholes, if large areas of external glazing are being planned consider whether it will still be possible to hang curtains as, although lightweight blinds are often installed in such situations, heavyweight curtains can act as a valuable secondary layer of insulation. If the glazed area is too large for hanging curtains to be practicable then this one feature could take a significant chunk of the annual running costs for heating.
Windows and doors fitted to new builds must meet the requirements of several sections of the Building Regulations, particularly:
Between them, these regulations cover such areas as escape requirements and the need for fire doors in certain locations; the need for toughened safety glass in certain circumstances; access arrangements for cleaning upstairs windows and the maximum heat transmission U-values allowed. For more information on U-values see the Insulation section. Since 2003, windows must have a certificate of compliance and this can either be obtained from Local Authority Building Control or by using a FENSA registered glazing contractor.
Fleming Buildbase - The specialist in windows and doors www.doorsandwindowsscotland.co.uk