AluWood Windows, one of Britain’s leading manufacturers of composite windows and doors is launching its KEEP IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT BETTER campaign ahead of the industry’s leading trade event in April, the FIT Show and is keen to hear the views of fabricators, specifiers and architects on this topical issue.
When considering windows and doors, in AluWoods opinion, the simpler the design the better they will perform. MD, Peter Body comments “With so much choice out there, the more openable lights, the more moving parts, the more maintenance that will be required and, if not properly maintained, the more likely such products will cause issues later on. These days most windows and doors come with at least a 10 year guarantee however it is important to consider the long term implications. Whilst it is unlikely any window or door will fail dramatically within the first 10 years, the easiest opt out of any guarantee is due to a lack of maintenance”
This issue is magnified in the case of timber windows and doors and especially patio/sliding and folding sliding (or bi-fold, as they are commonly known). This is because timber is a natural material and it is not only prone to movement with climatic changes but also requires regular painting / staining for protection. Bi-fold products also have far more moving parts than any window or standard entrance door and therefore will require very regular maintenance to ensure their smooth operation. In addition if doors become out of alignment and weather seals become damaged then there is a considerable reduction in weather performance.
There can be no doubt the admen have done a great job ‘selling’ the bi-fold door concept. We’ve all seen the images - vast openings connecting plush open plan living spaces with the garden and nature. All very enticing and people are simply seduced by this image and give no thought to the practical issues.
The reality, of course, is completely different. Unless you live in the south of England, there will be very few days in the year when the weather is good enough, for long enough that you would wish to open the doors. Then there are all the flies, wasps and other insects and birds which will fly in, making a nuisance of themselves.
So how can you achieve good views combined with superior weather performance and low maintenance? There are options. For most people it is the visual connection with their garden that they crave. This can be achieved by simple fixed panes of glass which will generally offer a lot less obstruction to the view than a closed bi-fold door. Also, most people can walk through a standard size door which can be closed behind them to avoid any ‘intruders’. In AluWoods opinion fixed panes with adjacent single doors is not only simple but better and can be arranged in any configuration to fill any size of opening. Interestingly, this was a point highlighted by architect Piers Taylor in the BBC2 programme ‘The £100k House: Tricks of the Trade’ on 9th March. There is also the added benefit that fixed panes can be made to irregular shapes, cost effectively, providing greater flexibility where glazed gables are required.