Some people will remember when double glazing windows were the hot new topic on everyone’s lips, and it was a luxury that not everybody could afford to install within their home.
These days, double glazing comes as standard in almost all newly built properties, highlighting precisely how important it was to home improvements throughout the UK.
Not many youngsters would believe that their grandparents often sat shivering in their home as ice formulated on the inside of their windows, so if the advance in technology was so significant, how come so many of us don’t get what double glazing does?
We’re going to explain double glazing in 5 simple steps:
1. It has two panes of glass
If you don’t know much about the science behind double glazing, don’t feel bad. For many, the extent of their knowledge is that double glazing has two panes of glass. Okay. Job done. Two panes of glass mean it will probably be twice as warm, right? Well… there’s a little more to it than that.
2. Glass has many different types
What most people aren't aware of are the number of different glass types that now exist on the market, as well as the variety of different jobs they're able to perform.
In alphabetical order, you can get Anti-sun, Decorative, Heatlock, Obscure, Safety, Security, Self-cleaning and Sound Reduction glass – each coming with many variants that offer their own unique strengths.
We're deviating slightly as not all types of glass are relevant to double glazing and equally as important as the type of glass is the layer or tint that is applied to it.
3. What the special tints can do
Currently, the most popular tints are Low-E glass (meaning “low emissivity”) and Low Iron glass. In short, Low-e glass has a tint that reflects heat, so by being placed on the inner pane of your window, it stops heat sneaking out and keeps your home warmer. Low Iron glass does the opposite and its tint allows short wave solar gain through, so placing it on the outer pane of your window invites heat in.
Still with us?
4. The Argon factor
Sitting in between the two panes of glass lies a layer of Argon gas. Why is this relevant? Well, Argon is denser than air, meaning that wherever there is a wall of the invisible, tasteless, odourless gas, there is a barrier that stops cold air passing through it.
As a rule, the thicker the wall, the more air it stops, but as windows are restricted by how thick they can logistically be, many tests have been run to find an optimum distance within the window. A space of 20mm is ideal, but a lesser distance can still be effective depending on the glazing of the window.
Cool or what?
5. Air tightness
You can have the greatest window in the world, but if the glass is loose within the casing or if there are gaps between the window casing and the frame, warm air will leak out of the house and cold air will pour in from outside. Therefore, windows must fit perfectly into the space around it. Any gaps will act as a weakness and hinder the overall performance of the window.
And there you have it. Double glazing explained in 5 simple steps.
Door styles & designs
Residential door styles are often described by their function. All the doors in this guide are exterior doors, which connect the home to the outside. Front doors and back doors are grouped together as ‘entrance doors’, and the other door styles are often referred to as patio doors. Patio doors tend to have a wider aperture and are so named as they lead the house onto the garden or patio.
Different companies will name their doors differently, however, there are three main types of door opening options: side-hung, sliding and folding. Entrance and French doors are usually side-hung, opening inwards or outwards on a set of hinges. These doors can also be paired to create double door sets. Sliding glass doors glide open by moving one panel behind the other, whereas bi-folding doors can be pushed to one side to completely open-up a room.
Make the best first impression with a beautiful front or back door.
Entrance doors are composed of a door ‘slab’ hung within a frame. They can be made of timber, uPVC, aluminium or composite materials, depending on the look and performance you’re looking for. Energy efficiency is a key factor to think about, and as more than 70% of intruders target the front entrance during a burglary, you should ensure your front door is highly secure.
Today’s entrance doors are fully customisable, so you can pick the style, colour, glass designs and accessories that you want. Most companies will be able to offer a wide range of classic and contemporary styles for you to choose from. Ask for an appointment to discuss your needs and design choices.
Charming entrance door that splits in two to let the outside in.
Entrance doors split horizontally in two opening sections to create a stable door. As the name suggests, stable doors originated in the farmyard, keeping animals safely locked in and allowing them to be seen, fed and petted at the same time! Modern day stable doors look like a regular front or back door when closed, but the top half can be opened independently. Combined with a heritage colour scheme they can make your home look like a country cottage.
Stable doors are usually available in uPVC and composite door materials. They feature the same locking systems as any other door in their range. However, you need to check that they can achieve the same protection against the elements, too.
Double open out door set, ideal for the back garden.
French doors feature two side-hung door panels that open in or out, operated by a pair of handles in the middle of the door set. Traditionally French doors were made from timber, but uPVC and aluminium framed door sets are now available.
The French door style is often used to add a touch of character and elegance to a home. They are a picturesque addition to any room and can also be designed into a conservatory. The classic style for French doors is Georgian, with white frames and astragal glazing bars dividing up the glass into squares. Black or grey frames are a popular modern twist, and can be customised with letterboxes, arched frames and period door furniture.
Sliding patio doors
Wide glass doors for impressive views to the outside.
Patio doors glide open and closed effortlessly, ideal for if you enjoy spending a lot of time in your garden. Perfect for larger apertures, sliding patio doors can be designed as a ‘wall of glass’, offering expansive views to the outside.
Patio doors are available in uPVC, or slimmer aluminium frames for an even better vista. The glass panels also slide into place behind one another, so they don’t take up any internal or external space.
When shut, patio doors can achieve a high level of energy efficiency. Patio doors must be double glazed as standard, but some companies offer triple glazing, with low e glass and other heat saving technologies. Modern patio doors are also cleverly designed to prevent break-ins through interlocking panels, multi-point bolts and anti-lift strips.
Slide and fold to fully open-up a room to the outside.
If you want to create the feeling of freedom, bi-fold doors are a clever way to open-up your space. Bi-fold doors fold up like a concertina, allowing you to push the panels open fully to one side. They can be created with up to 6 glass door panels up to a metre wide and installed in any room. In the kitchen, dining room, living room, extension, conservatory – the possibilities are endless!
Bi-folding doors are available with uPVC and timber frames, but aluminium is undoubtedly the best material for this door type. Due to its strength, aluminium can afford to have slimmer frames and carry larger glass units, whilst maintaining its structural integrity. Aluminium bi-folding doors also last longer and require little maintenance to keep them running consistently well.
Aluminium bi-fold doors fit flat against the frame for a stylish and modern architectural look. They can be designed in a range of colours, including classic monochrome white, black and grey.
How to choose a door that's right for your home
Some people choose a like-for-like replacement door for their home, but there are so many exciting designs and colours out there! It's a shame not to explore other options.
Think about your home’s overall aesthetic – are you looking for a more traditional or contemporary design? Every door can be configured for your home. With hundreds of door styles, colours, accessories, glass and material choices, there are thousands of possible combinations. That means you can design a door that’s unique to you.
Finally, remember that one size doesn’t fit all with doors. A door needs to fit the door into the frame precisely, with no tolerance for gaps that could create a draught. It’s for this reason that you should never buy a second-hand door – and make sure your installer fits a door made to measure your home exactly.
How to choose the perfect door?
When considering a new door, most people’s concerns generally stem around the colour they want, whether they want a painted or stained finish and what type of knockers, handles and letterboxes to have on it.
You might notice that these are mainly to do with the look and little to do with the functionality of the door. However, in terms of effectiveness and longevity, the most important factors to consider are more to do with how the door operates, begging the question: “What makes a great door?”
In our humble opinion, your door should:
1. Be easy going
No matter how great your doors look, they will soon lose their charm if you need to spend countless hours maintaining their appearance.
2. Look right
A bright yellow door with a chunky black knocker might make a statement but added to the front of a period home it might look a little ill placed. Make sure the style matches the building.
3. Be secure
Remember, the main benefits of your door are earned through its functionality, not through the way it looks, so choosing a door that has an abundance of style over substance is counter-productive. Make sure your choice is secure with multi-point locking mechanisms so it’s as safe as it is stunning.
4. Show support
It is vital that your door is attached to, and supported by, a secure frame. Frames that are incorrectly fitted will reduce the performance of the door and may lead the door to stick, let out warm air, let in cold air and even crack due to excess pressure.
5. Be energy efficient
British standards include energy ratings, which indicate how effective the door is and, effectively, how useful they are towards reducing energy bills. Do your research before you purchase.
6. Fit perfectly
Bespoke doors are made-to-measure, meaning they fit perfectly into the aperture of your home. That means the door is airtight and will not let hot air disappear outside, allowing you to hold back on artificial heating.
7. Be industry tested
Having a door that looks nice is great, but has it been rigorously tested in various harsh weather conditions? If not, then a short spell of bad weather may lead to some nasty surprises.
8. Reduce noise pollution
This is achieved by the combination of how well the door is fitted along with what type of glazing, if any, you have chosen. Make sure you ask the right questions about how much sound can be expected to be blocked out of your home. It can make an extraordinary difference to how you relax in your home.
9. Remain firm
With a quality bespoke door, you will avoid the annoyance of unwanted shakes and rattles. Modern designs are tested in extreme conditions so that this irritation becomes a thing of the past.
10. Offer reassuring guarantees
If you’re going to pay good money, you must make sure you receive suitable cover. Make sure you know exactly what the guarantees cover before you buy, along with how many years the cover runs.
Conservatories used to only have one roof option: polycarbonate. Over time, some older models have experienced problems such as leaking roofs, overheating, cold spots and poor sound insulation. With improvements in conservatory roof technology, these problems have been virtually eradicated.
A wider range of materials are now used to make conservatory roofs, which perform better for longer. Glass roofs use clever reflective coatings to keep the room at a comfortable temperature, tiled roofs are insulated to reduce heat loss, and modern polycarbonate roofs are now more energy efficient than ever before.
Glass conservatory roofs
If you want a sleek, architectural finish for your conservatory or extension, a glass roof is the ideal choice. They are available in any size and shape, and you can even specify a large atrium style roof.
Glass roofs are constructed using strong aluminium frames which support the glass units. These are also thermally efficient and can be fitted with uPVC ‘caps’ to match the frames if you have a uPVC conservatory. Sturdy and robust, these roofs are designed to withstand the worst of the British weather, including high winds and heavy snow.
Advances in glass technology means that a glass roof conservatory is not a greenhouse. These high-performance roofs are designed to retain natural heat whilst reflecting the sun’s glare, for a room that you can use all year round. A designer will be able to help you choose the right roof glass for your conservatory, depending on the angle of the sun.
Orangery designs often incorporate a glass roof that covers the whole roof without meeting the edges. This is because the inside features an interior ceiling perimeter, and the glass roof ‘lantern’ sits on top like a crown.
Lantern roofs can be made for any shape of orangery or conservatory, meaning you can have a ‘squarer’ type design, or one with rounded edges. You can even choose the frame colour, roof pitch, and glass type. The 'pelmet' or ceiling border can also incorporate lighting and even speakers.
Polycarbonate conservatory roofs
A polycarbonate roof is a multi-layered plastic roof made with clear or tinted plastic. It is created using layered ‘multi-wall’ plastic sheeting with an air gap between the sheets that helps to trap warm air. Lightweight and structurally stable, polycarbonate is an excellent and affordable way to roof your conservatory.
Like other roof materials, polycarbonate is now better equipped to deal with the elements. Blue, gold and other tinted roofs can help reduce heat gain by as much as 7 degrees on a hot day. Modern polycarbonate roofs also contain solar reflective inserts, which can reduce glare and block up to 99% of UV rays.
Tiled conservatory roofs
One complaint about ageing conservatories is that they let in too much light and heat from the sun’s rays. Whilst these issues have largely been resolved, some homeowners prefer to opt for a tiled roof instead.
Tiled roofs can fit the shape and style of your conservatory, giving you a vaulted or sloping ceiling. Different tiled finishes are available to match any style home, such as slate grey, pale shingles, Marley clay, and black or red tiles. Tiled roofs can even incorporate skylights or glazed sections if you want to let in more light.
These roofs are also known as ‘warm roofs’, because they can achieve high levels of thermal insulation. They can reach a U value as low as 0.12 W/m²K – that’s better than the average house roof.
Tiled roofs can be installed as quickly as any other conservatory roof, so you can start using your new conservatory sooner rather than later.
Traditional conservatory styles are ornate, with decorative features such as cresting along the ridge, and a finial at the top or end point. Another consideration is the roofline – you can specify a cornice, or neat roof edge trim, which adds to the period styling. Ask your designer about rainwater systems and downpipes to check that this system doesn’t detract from the overall look of your conservatory.
More and more homeowners are opting for composite front doors instead of replacement timber, uPVC or aluminium front doors. In this blog post we look at the pros of choosing a composite door and how it compares to other material choices.
Timber or composite?
Real timber has natural beauty but there is often a premium to pay for this, a low-quality timber can also warp and twist over time (Peter Fennell wooden doors are laminated and engineered to add strength, eradicate knots and resist twisting). A timber window will also need maintenance to keep it looking its best, we recommend redecorating every 3-4 years in moderate climates and 2-3 years in extreme climates. Timber is a natural material so also requires regular attention and should be cleaned at least twice a year. Composite doors are particularly easy to maintain; just general cleaning will keep them looking their best for years and little to none redecorating will be needed. In fact, because of the way composite doors are made they do not fade over time even in strong sun for several decades. The colour isn’t applied to the surface of the door so the colour will stay looking bright and bleach free. When deciding between a timber or composite door, the main thing to consider is maintenance. If regular cleaning and redecorating every couple of years isn’t an issue and you like the natural look of timber, then timber may be the choice for you. However, if you want a relatively maintenance free front door, then composite may be the choice for you. You could even choose our ‘light wood’ composite door which will give the impression of a timber door with all the added benefits of composite.
uPVC or composite?
uPVC is a fantastic choice of material for a front door, it is typically the least expensive material, very easy to maintain and more energy efficient than a natural choice like timber. However, uPVC isn’t necessarily the strongest material, some cheap uPVC doors that aren’t reinforced effectively can be broken easily and an intruder could easily get access to the inside handle of a property. A good quality uPVC door such as a Peter Fennell uPVC door is fully reinforced, hinges and locks are also fitted directly to the doors steel reinforcement. A uPVC door is made purely of plastic, whereas a composite door is made from many different materials which are selected for their properties and put together in a way to counter flaws you may find in a single material door. A composite door offers higher security because of their super-strong structure. When deciding between uPVC and composite the main things to consider are price and style. Generally, a uPVC door is going to be slightly cheaper than a composite door but there are more colour choices with composite, we currently offer 11 colour choices for uPVC front doors and 15 colour choices for composite front doors. You can also tailor a composite door to the style of your property easier, we have composite doors in traditional, contemporary and stable options to help maintain the look of your property.
Aluminium or composite?
Aluminium doors are super strong, easy to maintain, compliment any home and come in a range of styles. Aluminium is a composite material and is produced in a way which maintains strength (it can be as strong as steel) but remains light in weight. For this reason, an aluminium door can have a larger glass area than other materials while maintaining strength. By balancing strength and weight an aluminium door can be tougher than other materials such as uPVC. However, a cheap aluminium door can suffer from conduction and condensation issues, which means heat from the outside will be absorbed by the door in the summer making the home warm and cold will get into the home easier in the winter. Investing in a good quality aluminium door, such as one from Peter Fennell, which has thermal breaks in the frames insulate the home from outside temperatures. Aluminium doors are available in black semi-gloss, brown, battleship grey, charcoal grey and white, if you want a door with more character such as rose quartz, garnet or mulberry then composite may be a better option.
What’s right for me?
The answer to this question will often depend on your preferences, budget and how willing you are to keep up with maintenance once the door has been fitted. If you are investing in a good quality front door, such as one from Peter Fennell, whatever material you choose you can rest easy knowing they are all strong and are secured by design.