What are uPVC windows?
uPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) is relatively new to the building industry in South Africa, although it has been used in Europe for quite some time. It is a material that can be used for both windows (sometimes called ‘plastic windows’ when uPVC is used) and doors.
The energy rating of uPVC is very advantageous and provides excellent insulating qualities, especially in acoustic environments. Although painted uPVC windows and doors can be very costly in South Africa, choosing white can be very competitive when comparing similar options (same sections, hardware and quality) made from wood and aluminium.
The pros and cons of uPVC windows
Deciding which material to use for your windows needn’t be confusing. In South Africa, wood, aluminium and uPVC are the top three choices. Although each has their own benefits, it ultimately comes down to personal style, fenestration and budget.
To help you decide, take a look at the pros and cons offered by uPVC:
· uPVC has brilliant insulation properties resulting in high energy efficiency.
· uPVC windows (and doors) are available in many attractive designs.
· uPVC designs usually carry long warranties.
· uPVC windows and doors offer a tilt-and-turn option.
· uPVC windows are free of maintenance and don’t need to be cleaned.
· uPVC extrusions can be recycled.
· uPVC windows ensure added soundproofing to a home.
· They are quite adept at collecting heat within a property, especially if double-glazing or triple-glazing glass panels are used.
· uPVC windows are the ideal touch for contemporary-style buildings.
· Currently, windows and doors made from uPVC are more expensive than wood and aluminium designs in South Africa, considering the way these products are compared by the layman is usually flawed. However, there are more cost-effective ranges available, and these offer a reasonable alternative.
· Opting to paint your uPVC surfaces ups the price considerably. This means customers on a tight budget are usually limited to white.
· uPVC windows and doors present size limitations. They are also less customisable than wood and aluminium designs. However, they offer options not available in aluminium, such as French windows with no vertical mullions to break the view once open.
· Although they are not fireproof, uPVC windows are fire resistant.
· Many people consider uPVC windows to be less stylish than traditional wooden windows.
· When it comes to repairing, the entire window needs to be removed and disassembled.
· Direct heat sources can result in the plastic surfaces warping.
· uPVC windows are not suitable for areas with extreme weather/climate conditions.
Installing uPVC windows
For maximum results, it is strongly recommended to make use of a professional when it comes to installing uPVC windows. But as on overview, the general installation process involves the following:
1. Always keep safety in mind by wearing protective clothing.
2. Survey the area to ensure your brickwork (if applicable to your structure) is in good condition and that no structural repairs need to be made ahead of fitting the new windows. Let an expert check your aperture and take accurate measurements – remember that your new windows will need to be slightly smaller than the holes they’ll be fit into (about 10mm all the way around the frame).
3. Before you remove existing windows, ensure the replacements are the same size. Be careful when removing windows to minimise any damage to the walls. If possible, it’s recommended that you remove your glazing panels first and then the frames, as this will reduce the weight you need to account for. Also check that you don’t damage any damp-proofing.
4. If you are having a windowsill installed, this will need to be attached before fitting your new uPVC frame. Check that you use the correct length of screws, otherwise they could penetrate your frame and allow moisture to creep in. Be sure to add the sill end caps as well.
5. Place the frame into the correct gap and level it, using shims if required. Once tightly in, drill fixing screw holes through the frame and into the wall.
6. Screw the frame to the wall by using top-notch frame fixings. Wait until all screws are in place before over-tightening, just in case you need to remove them.
7. Fill any holes with silicone sealant (which will help to prevent moisture creeping in) and then clean the space of all dust and debris.
8. It’s important to have a second person help you lift the glazing into place – do this very carefully to avoid damaging your glass.
9. Click your sealed units into place and add finishing strips, which are usually supplied with your frame.
10. After cleaning all the surface areas, add a smooth layer of quality sealant (in a matching colour) to fill the gaps between your frame and walls. Remember that this needs to be a weatherproof barrier.