A growing alternative

When it comes to deciding on windows for a property, consumer choice is as wide as ever. Yet, despite this wide array of options, demand for products that are cost-effective and aesthetically appealing remains strong. Clare Higgins, product manager at Rehau, explores how the PVCU market is adapting to homeowners’ changing design preferences, and offering realistic flush alternatives.

Windows play a huge part in a house’s overall look, and consumers are becoming shrewd when selecting which product best suits their property. There is plenty of choice available for windows constructed from timber, aluminium or PVCU, with positives and drawbacks for each. Yet with continued innovation around PVCU windows, they are increasingly becoming a realistic alternative to more established timber and aluminium products.

Due to their appealing aesthetics, timber windows have tended to be the premier choice for traditional housing. However, maintaining real timber can be very expensive, and can represent a hidden cost for homeowners.

Aluminium can also offer an attractive solution. As a hard-wearing material offering a modern look, it is a highly viable option for householders. However, the material is a thermal conductor that can lead to heat loss.

By contrast, PVCU windows enjoy the strengths of both wood and aluminium as a practical, highly adaptable and cost-effective material. The standard of PVCU solutions has progressed rapidly since they were introduced in the 1980s, and has transformed the market. So, while timber and aluminium windows retain popularity due to their visual appeal, installers and fabricators can now offer a PVCU window with an identical appearance and sleek flush fit.

PVCU windows were traditionally only available in white, or in a narrow choice of other foils, making them a poor relation to the eye-catching visuals offered by timber and aluminium products. Yet, developments in manufacturing mean a much wider array of on-trend colours are now available to match homeowners’ demands.

At Rehau we have witnessed a pronounced growth in demand for grey finishes, with sales of grey-foiled PVCU windows rising by 38%. The PVCU market has reacted accordingly by launching a new range of colours. Our own response to this trend involved developing a new grey base profile for our most popular range of grey shades, including anthracite grey and slate grey, giving householders a seamless, cost-effective alternative to aluminium.

As such, options that are as aesthetically pleasing as timber or aluminium are now available, and are able to offer a sleek, flush finish that can blend with any building’s exterior structure of a building, no matter its style.

For example, while natural wooden frames will always be a popular choice for period properties undergoing redevelopment, installers can now recommend a PVCU solution that provides all the benefits associated with the material while providing the same aesthetic.

Rehau’s Rio Flush Fit window has an authentic wood effect foil, Turner Oak, as a realistic alternative to traditional timber, and the option of featuring the same finish inside the home for a bespoke look that matches the interior design.

The popularity of timber-look joints and flush windows for properties will continue to grow, meaning PVCU alternatives such as the Rio Flush Fit window are set to continue transforming the market. This is because consumers can now simply attain the sought-after look of timber or aluminium windows, without the drawbacks of either.

Consequently, fabricators and installers can recommend PVCU products to customers with confidence, knowing they are offering a functional and stylish fit, as well as leading durability, security and energy efficiency benefits.