Smart Shopping For Your Windows and Doors

Smart shopping

Smart Shopping For Your Windows and Doors

First, what exactly are windows and doors?

Windows and doors withstand wind, heat, cold, noise, sun, rain, fire, mozzies, and burglars while also allowing light and fresh air in. Doors also allow people movement.

You might be building your dream home or doing a major renovation. Windows and doors are essential parts for the house. The cost is also very significant. So you may ask which windows and doors should I use? Where is the best place to get my windows and doors?

As always, doing research and getting to know the products will pay off. As a windows and doors supplier, we have found that quite often architects tend to specify high end products which make buildings more architectural, while builders tend to use low cost products to save money. So doing research can help decide on what types of windows and doors to use and the budget.

I am quite interested in photography and shopping for lens can be a huge challenge. After extensive research, I found Voigtländer lens offer an attractive proposition. They do not carry the price tag of Leica or Zeiss, but offer a sharp lens with a compact size at an attractive price. They make lens for Leica is a vindication for their quality and standard. The sharpness and compact size make them stand out from the herd of Canon, Nikon, Tamron and Sigma. The lens is made in metal, not plastic. But there is a catch, they are manual focus only. But for architecture and landscape shooting, that was not an issue for me.

So my extensive research paid off. Now I own sharp Voigtländer lens with light weight and compact size without breaking my bank. I take my camera out more often since it is neither heavy nor bulky. I couldn’t be happier.

The rationale behind my lens shopping can be summarized as follows:

1. Quality, Quality, Quality. Quality is paramount. It must do the job well and meet the performance standard. For lens, it is their sharpness;
2. Taking other important criteria into consideration, such as size, weight, what material they use;
3. The Performance to Price ratio must be high;
4. Search for niche players, they could have better offerings than those big names with market dominance. But you have to do a background check;

(If you agree with above list, there is a high chance you will become our customer.)

For windows and doors shopping, you may follow the guideline as follows:

1. Which?
2. Where?
3. What price?
4. How? Design and Solution

1. Which windows and doors should I choose?

Timber uPVC Aluminium Thermally Broken Aluminium
Thermal Performance High High Low High
Price Medium-High Medium Low-Medium High
Size Limit Yes Yes No No
Maintenance Requirement Yes Yes No No
Lifespan Short Medium (20-30 years) Long (up to 45 years) Long (up to 45 years)

Timber:

1. They will rot if they are not maintained regularly. We have replaced many rotten timber windows already;
2. Timber can also expand and shrink causing operation issues;

uPVC:

1. They are plastic windows with steel reinforcements.
2. Very few of uPVC windows are used for public or commercial buildings;
3. The window and door hardware is fitted to plastics frame. Over the time, they can become unsecure and potentially loose becoming an issue;
4. The frame could expand and shrink causing operation issues;
5. Limited colour options.

Aluminium:

1. Generally better than timber or uPVC in above areas;
2. The only issue is thermal conductivity;

Thermally Broken Aluminium:

1. Overcome the thermal conductivity issue and become the new benchmark for windows and doors;
2. Since the introduction of thermal breaks into the frame, the number of aluminium extrusions to make the windows is doubled. That requires more stocking of aluminium extrusions;
3. The thermal break joining process also requires extra cost and time; Thus the cost is increased as well as the production time;

2. Where should I get my windows and doors?

Most windows are made locally. Why should I buy windows from overseas?

A quick comparison of a typical Australian made awning window vs European tilt and turn window as follows:

Awning windows made in Australia European tilt and turn window
Frame Aluminium, no thermal break Aluminium, thermally broken
Extrusion thickness Generally 1.0mm Minimum 1.4mm
Surface treatment Powder coating High-performance fluoropolymer coating
Opening options Bottom, up to 300mm opening Top: Tilt position, or
Side: Turn position, window sash can fully open
Opening operation Slow, up to 19 handle turns, 40 seconds to fully open Fast, 1 handle turn, 1 second
Corner Fabrication Screw fixed Crimped for better structural performance
Glass thickness Generally 4mm Minimum 5mm
Glass type Clear float, safety glass is only used as required Clear toughened, safety glass standard
Hardware Manual winder Tilt and turn hardware set, Handle
Hardware warranty 1 year Roto: 10 years
Window Sash Weight Limit 15kg Roto: minimum 90kg rated, up to 200kg
Fly screen Fiberglass Powder coated stainless steel security mesh
Fly screen Fall Prevention No Yes
Security
Note: Glazing beads are the parts to secure the glass.
Glazing beads are located on outside. burglars can remove the bead and glass gaining access into the building Glazing beads are located on inside, impossible to remove the glazing bead from outside

Therefore the choice is between locally made, lower specification products, or products made overseas with higher specification but a longer lead time.

If you follow the overseas option, a local point of contact is essential. They not only assist with installation but also provide after sale service. More important, they also offer professional opinions to assist your purchase.

3. What price?

Windows and doors can be the most expensive item for a dream home. It is quite common for a large architectural house to have a six figure windows and doors budget. It is suggested to have at least three quotes.

When comparing quotes, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. A tip for the general consumer: the hardware quality and brand can often be a good indication of the quality. The rule of thumb is that premium windows and doors will use premium hardware for high performance. Generally European brands such as G-U, Roto, Siegenia and Giesse are highly regarded in the industry. An example can be a set of Roto tilt and turn hardware cost $200 while an awning window winder cost $20.

4. How? Design and Solution

As an architect with design background, I know that good design adds value to the house. The same applies to windows and doors. Good design and use of your windows and doors will have a better outcome for your investment and potentially save you money. While poor design could have future issues and cost you more than necessary.

As an architect, we normally have a brief from the client to design a house. The brief outlines all requirements from the client and their priorities and possible compromises. The same should apply for your windows and doors. It would be a good idea to write down your requirements, priorities and possible compromise. Questions that could be asked include what is the most important: energy efficiency, minimizing noise, maximizing view, cross ventilations, opening up space, avoiding the western sun or maximum security? That would help you to define your goals.

Therefore it is important to have good discussions with your supplier to go through the options and requirements. Factors to consider include orientations, window and door types, windows and door frame colours, transom and mullion configurations, glass options, hardware options, left or right hand operations, fly screens, installation details, etc.

Overall good window solutions generally consist of three elements:

1. Good window and door system with high performance,
2. Good design and configuration, including the right type of glass specified;
3. Good site installation, the implementation.

If these three goals are achieved, then you will be able to enjoy your windows and doors for many years ahead.

Good luck for windows and doors shopping!

 

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