Traditionally, homeowners preferred choosing materials like wood or aluminium for window frames and sills. However, the scenario has changed with the rising popularity of uPVC windows.
The superb versatility and lower cost of uPVC have made it an appealing choice for homeowners across the globe. Moreover, in my experience, the material can easily compete with painted wood in terms of aesthetics.
What makes uPVC windows and doors such a popular choice?
What are uPVC Windows?
Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride or uPVC is a thermoplastic that has gained immense popularity in the door and window manufacturing industry. The material is manufactured without the addition of plasticisers that improve the flexibility of synthetic polymers like PVC. Without these chemicals, uPVC is a stronger and more robust material.
Initially, stabilisers are added to the powdered form of the material that determines the various properties. It is then converted into a liquid state under a specific temperature and pressure.
In the next stage, the liquid is injected into a mould to give it the desired shape. The product also passes through a stage called degassing. This removes any gases formed during the high-temperature extrusion process.
Finally, the liquid is cooled rapidly to solidify the profile and taken to the fabrication shop. Here, the profiles are cut and joined by the process of fusion welding to produce a window of the desired shape.
In most cases, uPVC window suppliers use “multi-walled” sections for manufacturing. These sections are reinforced by steel or aluminium members. The thickness of a single wall can be between 3 to 3.5 mm. The greater the number of walls, the stronger the window is.
Why Choose uPVC Windows?
The main reason that makes uPVC windows a great choice is that they offer superior quality at an affordable price. They are available at lower costs than materials like wood and aluminium. Besides, not only is uPVC cost-effective, but it also has higher strength.
Because of their high strength and durability, they are being used widely as an effective replacement for wooden and aluminium windows.In addition, it exhibits excellent resistance to chemicals and heat.
Here are some other advantages of uPVC windows
- These windows are a great option in terms of aesthetics. They come in a wide variety of colours and deliver a lustrous look. You can pick a specific design or a glazing option that matches your interiors. Whether you want an upmarket look or a minimalist feel, these windows are a tailor-made solution.
- The material has excellent weatherproofing qualities that make it suitable for all kinds of extreme conditions. These windows do not absorb moisture or crack from extreme temperatures and exposure to UV rays. They can also withstand the salty conditions in a coastal belt. With the right installation and minimum maintenance, they can easily last for decades.
- Being a synthetic polymer, uPVC is resistant to attacks from termites and other pests. It also does not allow mould growth.
- As a bad conductor of heat and cold, uPVC offers excellent insulation to the interiors of any home. When fitted in the right manner, they are an energy-efficient choice to maintain the internal temperatures of any room and improve thermal comfort levels. Additionally, they also help you to save on your electricity bills.
- These windows are also a great choice when it comes to blocking out unwanted noise. Many uPVC windows are reinforced with steel members or glass to provide better acoustic insulation.
- Fire tests conducted with uPVC materials have shown that it acts as a flame retardant. It also has a higher ignition temperature (391 degrees C) than wood. That means it will not help in spreading the flames in case of a fire.
- Due to the surface properties of the material, it is not prone to dust accumulation or subjected to wear and tear. Since they require minimum maintenance, uPVC windows and doors are a “fit and forget” installation option for your home.
- The material is 100% recyclable and lasts for decades. So, it is an eco-friendly choice for homeowners. Since it is non-toxic and helps in lowering energy costs, uPVC is the right choice for lowering the carbon footprint of your house or modular home.
uPVC Windows vs PVC Windows
In general, uPVC and PVC have properties that are similar in nature. Both materials last long and need minimum maintenance. Even so, PVC windows are not commonly made.
The main difference is the absence of plasticisers in uPVC. Due to this, it is not flexible like PVC and has more rigidity. This makes it more suitable as a construction material. uPVC can also resist wider temperature changes than PVC and will not change shape in extreme conditions.
Two chemicals that are found in PVC but not in uPVC are BPA (Bisphenol A) and phthalates. While these chemicals do not have direct toxic effects, higher concentrations can cause an imbalance in hormone action and metabolic diseases. This can lead to conditions like weight gain, insulin resistance, and complications during pregnancy in some cases.
For this reason, various agencies have raised concerns about the effect of PVC on human health. In that sense, uPVC is a safer compound than PVC for use in your home.
How to Tell Good uPVC vs Bad uPVC?
Here are a few ways to differentiate between a good quality uPVC window from a product of inferior quality.
The first step is to check the weight per metre of the uPVC profile used in the window and compare it with the other profiles in the manufacturer’s catalogue.
To cut costs, many manufacturers use extra calcium additives and fewer PVC resins while manufacturing the profiles. But calcium is heavier and a higher percentage of it can make uPVC brittle. So, a uPVC profile with a lower weight should have more PVC resin and is a better choice in terms of durability.
The thickness of the uPVC profiles should be between 2.5 to 3 mm or more. Profiles of lesser thickness will not offer the best durability. The reinforcements between the sections should be aluminium or corrosion-resistant galvanised steel.
To ensure a stable colour profile in uPVC, titanium dioxide is added during the extrusion process. However, this is an expensive compound and is used only in high-quality uPVC profiles. Check if the colour profile of the material has been stabilised.
While checking a uPVC window, make sure that there are no scratches or dents on the material surface and all the welded junctions are clean.
In essence, uPVC windows have multiple advantages that make them a popular choice. Such a window made by a trusted brand with the right level of engineering will easily last for a few decades.
If you want hassle-free, long-lasting windows with excellent functionality, choosing uPVC is the right step.