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What is triple glazing?

As we approach the summer months insulating the home for next winter, alongside other home improvements, comes to mind for homeowners. The beast from the east caused many issues across the country and certainly tested everyone’s insulation and boiler! As a result, many double glazing and home improvement companies are extolling the virtues of triple glazing, offering special deals and encouraging the average homeowner to upgrade their double glazing. We hope to provide a guide to triple glazing to help you make an informed decision about its viability for your home.

triple glazing

What is triple glazing?

As the name suggests, triple glazed windows are made up of glass which includes up to three different layers. Some triple glazed windows include a double layered glass with a thin film positioned in the middle of these layers. This is a low emissive film. Triple glazed windows have been popular since they provide better insulation.

Triple glazed windows are perfect in areas which experience extreme weather conditions. In Scandinavian countries, for example, it is now mandatory to install triple glazing in all new homes. Experts have determined that for tripled glazed windows to really do magic, Krypton must be used instead of argon as the filler gas. The frame must be insulated as well to ensure the highest level of energy efficiency.

 How much do triple glazed windows cost?

The average cost of installing triple glazing for a 2-bedroom home is around £2,500, depending upon the frame materials. To install triple glazing in a 4-bedroom house with 15 windows you can expect to pay around £6,500 – 8,000, depending on frames and profiles.

Also Read: UPVC French doors – a buyers guide

Triple glazed sealed units are 50% heavier than double glazing which means that hardware, such as hinges need to be more robust, and a responsible company will use more labor, thus increasing the cost even more. Extra panes, heavier frames, and a trickier fitting process mean the cost of triple glazing can be up to 40 percent more than double glazing but is unlikely to translate to 40 percent bigger savings on your energy bills, subject to the design of your home and materials used.

Why should I consider it?

That really depends on whether you want to have an ultra-quiet home and energy-efficient windows. If you are expecting the windows to pay for themselves in the short term, you are bound to be disappointed because the saving accumulates over a matter of years. However, if you are thinking of replacing your windows then the cost of triple glazing is comparable with the cost of double glazed units

Some of the reasons people in the UK are opting for triple glazing include:

  • Improved Heat Insulation – Triple glazed windows consist of three different glass panes which contain insulating air pockets in the middle section. Since gas is one of the most effective insulators, an extra air pocket can reduce the amount of heat leaking through. This makes triple glazed windows highly effective and can save energy.
  • Noise Reduction – Windows also allow noise to enter your home, as we are all aware. This is because most windows are made up of very thin glass membranes. Due to the presence of air pockets and extra layers of glass in triple glazed windows, the amount of noise leaking into your home can be significantly reduced.

 

  • Draft – As your windows get older, they begin to develop small leaks on their edges. This can easily generate drafts. When you’re using triple glazed windows, this won’t be a problem in your home. Since these windows are properly sealed and consist of an additional layer, they don’t generate drafts.
  • Condensation – Due to the difference between external and internal temperatures, condensation may be formed on windows. Since triple glazed windows have three panels with additional air pockets, heat does not seep through at a fast pace. Therefore, the temperature difference is significantly reduced, leaving your windows clear and dry.

Is there really a positive environmental impact compared to double glazing?

From an environmental point of view, triple glazing, which uses 50% more glass than double glazing, needs 90% more embodied energy in production. Whilst you may see a reduction in energy bills (on average 10% compared to double glazing) and your home is warmer, the cost of manufacture is likely to outweigh the

Another point to consider is that glazing of any kind is only as good as the materials used and the quality of the fitting. Poorly fitted triple glazing, which has not been sealed correctly, can be as redundant as single glazing and outperformed by top quality double glazing. Glazing is required to perform as part of wider energy-saving measures. There’s little point investing in the most hi-tech glazing technology if your walls and roof are without proper insulation. If you are hoping that triple glazing will improve your carbon footprint and energy efficiency on its own I’m afraid you will be disappointed!

Other things to consider

Essentially it is a personal choice whether a triple is better than double glazing in the UK. Most home improvement companies will now offer triple glazing and explain why you ‘need’ it in your home. However, the National Federation of Glazers have noted that triple glazing is no more effective than double glazing unless insulated frames are also used (http://www.nfoglon.org.uk/Triple%20Glazing%20factsheet.pdf)

But there are a few main points to consider:

    • If you’ve already got good double glazing, triple glazing will not offer huge benefits.
    • Triple glazing doesn’t pay for itself, but neither does double.
    • Triple glazing is usually more expensive.
    • If you want to get rid of cold spots in an otherwise well-heated house, or you have lots of noise outside, triple glazing is an option.

There are other ways of increasing the efficiency of your glazing without adding an extra pane and chances are, many of them will be cheaper, offer a better return on investment and contribute fewer obstacles to fitting. Adding special coatings to the glass to stop heat escaping, filling the cavities between the two glass panes with an inert gas, such as Krypton, instead of air and using spacers to enhance heat retention are more cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in the average home.

Double glazed sash windows. A buyers guide

Double glazed sash windows: A buyers guide.

Sash windows have been an iconic look for many older buildings and in recent years have seen a comeback in popularity. The standard sash window has many double glazed sash windows benefits over a hinged window, primarily as a space saver, but also a much more traditional look. Sash windows do not need to be expensive to upgrade to double glazing, as well as reducing draft from poorly fitting or worn frames. In addition, modern designs can allow for a range of opening styles which older frames were unable to offer. For example, the bottom section can be mounted on a series of hinges offering two different ways to open:

We will focus on the different options available in upgrading to double glazing for your sash windows. However, first, we should look at the benefits of moving to double glazing and improving the frames of older windows.

 

Single vs. double glazed

Many properties in the UK still have traditional single-glazed sash windows. Despite how nice they look, they are a real weakness when it comes to heat loss. Single glazing is not as energy efficient as there is no barrier between the internal heat and the outside cold. This results in heat being lost through windows much more quickly than through brickwork as there is a much thinner barrier. Double glazing is an effective way to reduce this as there are two panes of glass (double the thickness already!) and a thin layer of inert gas (usually argon) between the panes. This acts as an insulator and keeps more heat in the home, reducing energy bills and increasing energy efficiency. Rooms will warm up quicker when you turn the heating on and stay warmer for longer.

The other consideration is the age of the window frame. Many old frames utilised a pulley system, built into the frame, to help lift the lower pane and keep it in place. Over time this causes wear on the mechanism and on the wooden frame itself. Added to this potentially some rotting of the wood, the frame itself will not fit as effectively and cause drafts. Not only is cold air getting into the home, which isn’t pleasant, but warm air is escaping causing you to heat the cold draughts that used to come around the edges of the old windows should be a thing of the past.

 

Upgrading an existing sash window

To begin with, it may be worthwhile to consider if refurbishing your existing sashes is a viable option. If they are “too far gone” then you may have no choice but to replace them. However, if the wood is in decent condition and it’s just a matter of functionality or upgrading to double glazing there are ways to do this that can be very cost effective.

Adding internal secondary glazing is an option that has been successfully used many times in many homes. The approximate cost to fit secondary double glazed panels on the interior of a sash window can start around the £200 to £250 per square metre mark. This method will give you the benefits of double glazing with a much reduced cost and without the hassle of replacing the whole frame. However, this may be a temporary measure in older windows as the frame may not have a huge amount of ‘life’ left and will need to be regularly checked for damage and rot.

 

Replacement of a sash window

In cases where the window frame is not in good condition, or if you just want to update the look of your home, then a full replacement if the best option. Whilst this is more expensive than upgrading existing sash windows, in the long term this can be a much better option and you have more choice available for the style, design and materials used.

 

Materials – uPVC sash double glazed windows 

Sash windows As with any double glazed window you can opt for a uPVC sash window. When you choose uPVC sash windows for your period property window replacement you get a wealth of benefits compared to timber. They include:

  • Low maintenance – Gone are the days of the sanding down and re-painting involved with real wood. With only the occasional wipe down, uPVC windows will stay looking like new for years to come.
  • Durability – Modern uPVC is extremely durable. Whereas timber can be compromised by rot and insect infestation, uPVC provides a durable and weather resistant finish to protect your home.
  • Cost-effectiveness – Traditional timber is expensive. When it comes to budgeting, uPVC windows are always the most cost-effective option.

For many people, they opt for uPVC simply because it is cheaper. In fact, you can replace a wooden sash for a uPVC equivalent for about £750, while a like-for-like timber replacement may cost nearer £1350.

 

Materials – Timber

However, timber window frames tend to last a lot longer and uPVC can fade and become discoloured by UV rays. The fact is that most people are looking to replace their original timber windows, from properties built in the late 19th or early 20th century. This demonstrates that if correctly looked after, wooden sash windows can last. The fact is though, in order for them to last this long they do require regular maintenance – if the frame lacks paint or varnish, the wood will begin to rot very quickly. Also make sure if you do decide to go for timber sash you choose hardwood windows since these are the ones that will last!

uPVC double glazing will not last nearly as long – in terms of lifespan, many glazing companies offer a 10-year guarantee on their uPVC window frames. The lifetime of a uPVC has been set at 35 years by BRE (the building research company), but still this is far less than the timber frame windows (provided they are maintained correctly). Having said that, they do require very little maintenance over their lifespan.

The choice you make may come down to cost, but companies specialising in sash windows will be able to create most designs and styles in wood and uPVC. If your budget can stretch to a timber frame then this will last a lot longer if maintained, but it is recommended to check that the wood has been sourced ethically.

 

Other Points to note

Estate agents often come out with the classic line ‘properties with timber frame windows look better and sell for more.’ Well, in some cases that is true but like many things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The truth is that good uPVC windows look very similar to the wooden sash windows – but this really does come down to a personal preference.

Some properties in certain areas of the UK will have restrictions on the type of changes that you can make to the appearance of (and the material used to replace) new windows. For example, if you live in a listed building or are located in an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,) there could easily be local restrictions in force. If you are unsure, please check with your local planning department before doing anything.

 

UPVC French doors – a buyers guide

uPVC French Doors: A buyer’s guide

French doors can add an elegant and classic look to any home, offering an easy flow through the home and linking outside spaces to the home effortlessly. French doors have been popular in British homes for a long time and the classic look will never go out of fashion. There are three options for homeowners in the modern market; French doors, Sliding Doors and Bi-folding doors. French doors are perfect for a medium opening, with two doors which open from the center to give the feel of a large, unobstructed gap. This gives a much wider area than a single door and provides easy access with no central bar or pane of glass, such as you would find on a sliding door. Sliding doors have become less fashionable in recent years and have been criticised for people walking into them and knocking them off their runner! Bi-folding doors are excellent for a large opening but are often excessive for a medium space as they are costly for a limited space.

UPVC French doors

French Door Materials

There are significant differences in the 3 types of material used for French door manufacture each one has its own features.

Timber: The main issue with using wooden external French doors is that, if not properly sealed, timber will saturate or dry out. This “instability” is what causes timber French doors to deform. They can develop draughts from gaps surrounding the door when the wood shrinks as it dries out or sticks & jams when the wood swells as it absorbs water. However, with good maintenance, hardwood timber doors will last 40 or more years, much longer than other materials.

Aluminum: Aluminium French doors are a good option, being very light and strong. However, also
being made from metal, they are cold to the touch.
The metallic structure of the frame necessitates a thermal break between the inside and outside
surfaces. If this thermal break is not made well, then the frames will transmit heat, cold and even
develop condensation on the inner surfaces.

UPVC French doors: This material has such a lot of things going for it. Light, strong, cost-efficient and a natural
insulator, UPVC frames used for French doors offer the best features of all the other material
combined. Most uPVC doors will last 20 or more years, giving excellent value for money and with a
wide choice of colors on the market now, they are the most versatile. Most uPVC doors also come
with multipoint locking systems as standard, improving the security of your doors.
In addition, uPVC doors are very easy to look after. All that they need to keep them looking as good
as new is a wipe/wash clean. They will never need painting and should retain their colour. They are
not affected by bad weather such as rain, frost, and snow nor should the colour fade in strong
sunlight. The door will not warp due to a change in the air temperature and moisture as a wooden
door does.

Energy Efficiency and Insulation

upvc french doors The door should be well insulated to stop the cold getting in and the heat getting out of your home thus making them very energy efficient. If you have glazing in the door it should either be double or triple glazed. Another benefit of being well insulated is that they should reduce noise levels inside your home if you happen to live on a street that is busy with traffic passing by. A good indication that your door has a quality seal is that when you close it shut it should do so with a good solid feel.
To make the doors as energy efficient as possible, a standard UPVC French door is fitted with double glazed sealed units. To further enhance the performance, the sealed units can be filled with Argon gas and low-emissivity glass can be substituted for standard glass. Some companies are offering triple glazed windows as well but always look for the A+ rated windows as they will be the most energy-efficient available. The UPVC frames themselves are multi-chambered (much like a honeycomb), which also benefits the overall energy efficiency of the door set. If you’re interested in making your home more eco-friendly, read our guide

Security

As mentioned previously, uPVC doors are often the most secure set of patio doors on the market. The security of French doors has, in the past, been subject to question. Modern French door designs have addressed previous criticism and can now incorporate security features such as:

1. Multi-point locks that engage at the top, bottom and sides
of the frame.
2. Deadbolts that secure the doors to the top & bottom of the
outer frame.
3. 5 lever mortice key locks on each door leaf.
4. Pinless hinges. 3 sets per door.
5. Internally operated thumb-turn locks (cannot be operated
from the outside).
6. Internally glazed & beaded so the glass cannot be removed
from the outside.
7. Toughened, tempered safety glass.

All these features mean that uPVC French doors are much more secure than their rivals and you can be secure in the knowledge that your doors are just as resilient as your hardwood front door! To make sure you are fully secure, buy a uPVC door with a British Standard PAS 24-1. This means that the door and frame, as well as the locking mechanism, have successfully gone through several physical tests.

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