Thursday, 23 December 2010

Installing uPVC Windows

Installing uPVCs windows are rarely done by DIY homeowners. It is a complicated procedure that is much harder than installing a sub-floor or tiling for example. Of course any uPVC dealer will offer installation in the price of any deal you might sign.

Before committing to any firm to install your uPVC windows it is a good idea to do a bit of research and get a few quotes. It could be cheaper to try for a discount on the uPVC windows and find a cheaper local contractor to do the installation. It never does any harm to ask about testimonials and ask about any relevant references.

Having said all of this, most installations go smoothly and can be done in a few hours. Here is a great video showing the installation of uPVC windows:

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How to Clean uPVC Windows

It is important to not use harsh chemicals when cleaning uPVC windows because these chemicals could react with the uPVC and damage the window frames. Also it is vital that you avoid using rough cloths or scouring pads to clean uPVC. If there is a stain the temptation might be to remove the stain with a scouring pad. Avoid this temptation. uPVC scratches easily and what was once a stain will turn into a stain with scratch marks.

If you are unsure about what cleaning product to use on your uPVC window frames then consult your window supplier or an expert. One of the safest and best ways to clean uPVC windows is with a solution of white vinegar and water. Below are instructions for cleaning uPVC windows.

1) Open the windows and vacuum the tracks. Also remove any loose debris and dust.

2) Take a spray bottle and add warm water mixed with white vinegar. Use 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. Spray the uPVC frames with the solution and leave to sit for 2 minutes.

3) Wipe the uPVC frames with a clean and damp cloth.

4) If you have any scratches to the uPVC frames then apply a PVC gloss using a small paint brush. Remove any excess gloss with a paper towel. Be sure not to get any PVC gloss on the glass. If you do remove with a paper towel.

5) When the PVC gloss is dry, close the windows and spray the glass with a glass cleaner. Dry the glass with a paper towel or old newspaper.

6) Finally, put a mild lubricant and light grease on the opening mechanism.

If you follow these instructions you should continue to have great looking uPVC windows for many years.

Finally, it is worth doing a quick all over check of the uPVC window for any loose parts. If you find any tighten them up. If you follow these instructions just twice a year your uPVC windows will last many years to come.

For quick cleaning baby wipes are recommended because they are gentle and soft.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Comparison between uPVC Windows and Aluminum Frame Windows

In the USA and the UK uPVC or rigid vinyl windows are far more popular than aluminum windows. Whereas, in Japan and other Asian countries the reverse is true: most windows have aluminum frames. So what is the difference between these two types of frame?

Aluminum frames are cheap and easy to install. In Japan a house is normally built with a wooden frame and lightweight walls. Windows are fitted quickly. The house is not expected to last for much more than 60 years. After that time it is demolished and a new house is built on the same plot of land. Aluminum frames suit this style of construction because they are long lasting, light and cheap. Aluminum frames are also weather resistant. Aluminum doesn't rust; instead it just takes on a dull tone from oxidization.

Aluminum windows are superior to uPVC windows in terms of longevity - they last much longer than uPVC, which normally has a life expectancy of about 25 years. However, there are a number of ways in which uPVC or rigid vinyl windows are better.

The first is thermal resistance. Japanese houses are very cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. This is partly because aluminum windows do not provide a good thermal barrier: in the winter they don't keep the heat in the house, and in the summer they don't stop the heat from outside entering the house. Whereas, uPVC windows, especially with double glazing, are good insulators. They prevent heat or cold escaping from a room and stop the heat or cold from outside entering a room. This is called thermal resistance. uPVC's high thermal resistance helps save money on heating and cooling costs. Aluminum's poor thermal resistance makes heating and cooling a house more expensive.

Another important difference between aluminum frame windows and uPVC windows is strength and security. Aluminum is a lightweight and malleable metal. It is very easy to dent and bend aluminum frames. This means they are an easy option for burglars. In contrast, uPVC is stiff, hard and rigid. uPVC is a tough material that is difficult to break or bend. uPVC frames combined with double glazing present a much more formidable challenge to a would-be burglar than aluminum window frames.

The final difference between the two window types is disposal. It is easy to recycle aluminum. For years now many countries have been recycling aluminum cans and covering the costs by selling the recycled metal. On the other hand, it is very difficult to recycle uPVC. uPVC is  a plastic that contains PVC which is  made from petroleum. When burnt PVC gives off dioxins that are health hazards to people. Sadly a lot of uPVC and other PVC products end up in land fills at their end of their lives. These land fill sites frequently are the scenes of fires. Thus, if uPVC windows are not safely disposed of they are a danger to human health and a pollutant.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Comparison of uPVC Windows and Timber Frame Windows

Both uPVC windows and timber frame windows have their advantages and disadvantages. It is a difficult task for any home owner to decide which type of window frame is better to install.

For many years uPVC or rigid vinyl or vinyl siding was the industry norm for new homes in the UK, Ireland and the USA. uPVC windows with double or multiple glazing have many benefits that make them an obvious choice. For a start there is the question of maintenance. Timber frame windows need yearly maintenance to stop them falling apart. In wet weather the rain can get under chips in the paint work and rot the wood. In high humidity the wood can swell and in dry heat the wood can shrink and crack. In contrast, uPVC windows are completely unaffected by changes in the weather, and with minimal maintenance can last for over 25 years.

Furthermore, uPVC windows are very popular because they are energy saving. uPVC has a much higher thermal resistance than wood which means in the winter uPVC windows keep the heat in a room better and in the summer uPVC windows prevent heat entering a room. If you combine uPVC windows with the insulating properties of double or triple glazing you can make big savings on your heating and cooling bills.

Another benefit of uPVC windows is that they give much better security than timber frame windows. Timber frame windows are easy to pry open whereas uPVC windows offer no place to gain purchase for a pry bar. Also most new uPVC windows come with multi-point locking systems as standard.

It is for these reasons that houses with uPVC windows and double glazing are much easier to sell.

The main draw back of uPVC windows is that they are made from the plastic compound PVC. Not only is PVC expensive and difficult to recycle, but also the production of PVC releases dioxins into the atmosphere which are carcinogenic. In the event of a fire uPVC windows give off toxic fumes. And if old uPVC windows at the end of their life find their way into a landfill then there is a high risk of landfill fires releasing dangerous toxins into the atmosphere. For these reasons some local governments in Germany and the Netherlands have banned uPVC from new public buildings.

Other than the environmental problems with uPVC production and disposal the only other advantage of timber frame windows is that they are made of a natural material. Even though uPVC can be made to look like wood and any type of pattern can be photo printed onto the plastic, uPVC windows on closer inspection will never look the same as wood.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

UPVC Sales Reps

The great irony of uPVC windows is that for all the benefits that uPVC windows bring to a house they should sell themselves. Unfortunately, competition to sell uPVC windows and doors is stiff and companies will employ sales reps on zero basic salaries who only get well paid if they massively over charge the customer. Many firms give reps 60% of any sale they get over the normal price. This system means that reps can only get a decent salary if they rip you off.

This is something worth keeping in mind if you are looking to buy uPVC windows. How to deal with uPVC windows sales reps is an article full of useful advice about how to get a good price from a rep. In many cases uPVC or vinyl windows companies will not give you an on-line quotation unless you fill in a form stating your telephone number and address. They obviously don't want to give you an online quote, they want to send around a rep who will bore you silly with lies for two or more hours. Alarm bells should start ringing if your first refusal results in a 50% price reduction.

Always get several quotes from reputable national and local firms and ask friends, family and neighbours if they can recommend a decent uPVC supplier.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Cleaning uPVC Windows

There are various opinions about the best way to clean uPVC windows. It is hard to know for certain what the best way to clean uPVC is. The best advice is NOT to use scouring pads. Abrasive cleaners will scratch the uPVC. Unlike wood it is not a simple matter to sand down a scratch and reapply a varnish. A series of scratches on uPVC is difficult to repair.

For this reason a soft cloth or a baby wipe is recommended to use for cleaning uPVC.

The main question is what type of cleaning product to use. One source of good information is the supplier of the uPVC window. They will normally be able to recommend a suitable cleaning product.

Washing up liquid with water is one commonly used cleaning product. Another traditional cleaning method is to use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the uPVC.

Other cleaning products that are recommended by housewives are Jif, Astonish, Flash Mark and Stain Eraser. This link has a good list of reviews of uPVC cleaning products.

Finally, there is a very good chance one of your neighbours has uPVC windows. Ask them what they use.

Reminder - This post is about cleaning the uPVC frame AND NOT THE WINDOW

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Saving Money With uPVC Windows

To install uPVC windows is not easy. You can do it yourself if you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer, but for the average home owner it is a task too difficult to attempt. Often when you purchase uPVC windows the dealer will offer an installation service as part of the price.

Typically a 6 sided uPVC bay window with top opening window can cost you $2,000. For $7,000 you can buy and get installed 10 uPVC windows and 2 doors. Obviously the bigger your purchase the greater the discount you can get on individual items and the cost of installation.

This may seem like a lot of money. But you must consider the money you will save.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Security of uPVC Windows

There is no doubt that uPVC windows are more secure than timber frame windows. Timber has a habit of rotting over a period of time making the wood easy to break or manipulate. As a timber window frame weakens the more it compromises the security of your house. While you are away for the weekend or on your summer holidays a burglar or a housebreaker can sneak into your garden and use a pry bar to gain entry to your house via your timber frame windows.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

What is uPVC?

uPVC is the acronym for the chemical formula unplasticised Poly Vinyl Chloride. In the United States it is often referred to simply as 'vinyl' or 'rigid vinyl'. uPVC is a plastic. Like all plastics it is made from petroleum.

uPVC has been around for more than 50 years and because of its strength and durability has become a popular material for certain aspects of construction work. uPVC is not strong enough to support load bearing walls but it is very suitable as a material for making window frames. In the USA and the UK it has become the material of choice for developers because it is easy to work with and it is cheap.

Timber looks great but there are a number of draw backs with using timber in construction:
  • Timber obviously comes from chopping down trees. Even if the timber is from managed forests the tree serves more use to people left standing and being part of an eco-system that provides habitat, absorbs CO2 and gives out O2. In today's environmentally sensitive climate, trees are gaining in intrinsic value and it is only a matter of time before scarcity makes the price of timber so high that it is not practical to use as a material in construction projects.
  • Timber is not ideal for window frames because it needs to be repaired and painted every two years or so. Hot weather dries out the wood and makes it crack. Wet and humid weather makes the wood swell.
  • As a result, a timber frame is 'alive' in the sense that it is subject to fluctuations in size. This places a strain on the glass it holds in place.
  • Timber window frames are less secure than uPVC window frames. 
In contrast, uPVC windows need very little maintenance. They don't shrink and expand in extreme weather conditions. They are easy to install and very easy to clean. For people living in cold climates, uPVC double or triple glazing can reduce annual energy bills by as much as 20%.

The average life expectancy of a uPVC window is between 25 and 30 years.

For these reasons uPVC windows have become an industry standard in several parts of the world. uPVC windows and uPVC in particular is not without its detractors. In the following blog posts I will look further at some of the key issues surrounding the controversy of using uPVC as a construction material.