A manufacturer’s guide to coloured windows
There are a huge variety of bespoke options to consider when planning windows for a new or existing build: foil or paint finish; light or dark colours; wood grain flat smooth or texture. But first let’s discuss colour trends.
From a manufacturer’s point of view, the demand for plain white has declined rapidly over the past five years, and the switch to the contemporary greys and pastel colours has taken a strong foothold. Many systems now rank the most popular colour as anthracite grey, which has more interesting undertones than a typical pure grey with flashes of blue and green depending on the light.
There has also been a recent transition to more bespoke unusual shades, edging towards beige greys. These shades are favourable because they can be combined with a wide range of building materials, such as brick, render or cladding.
We have also seen a rise in popularity with heritage green shades, particularly for countryside cottages or barn conversions. While woodgrains have seen a large decline, the latest photo-realism technology has seen amazing results in copying light oaks and the more exotic woods. Light oak, in particular, came to market around the same time as the fast-evolving trend for flush butt jointed timber look windows. The ability to make a PVCU window almost indistinguishable from a real wood window has become a reality.
White is still low in demand, although it is seeing a slight resurgence thanks to popular, new flush systems that offer the option of woodgrain white, leaving the window looking like painted timber. This is ideal for more bespoke products like sliding sash windows and French door sets.
Aluminium windows now have a much wider colour choice of over 5,000 bespoke shades across the RAL and NCS swatches, and although powder coating is a long-term reliable finish, it is generally more expensive than coloured PVCU.
Warranty options on aluminium powder-coated surfaces would normally be for longer than PVCU. However, as with any metal, a coastal location will offer more of a challenge against the risk of corrosion, which is not an issue with PVCU so consider the environment of the project before making any decisions.
Good quality foil is still the favoured industry method of colouring PVCU windows, and it has a lifespan of 25 years or more dependending on weather conditions. Foiling has proved to be one of the most reliable ways of achieving coloured PVCU surfaces in terms of its stability, which doesn’t fade in the same way that paint does. It is, however, an expensive process, which has to be applied after the window profile has been extruded.
In parallel with the automotive industry, there are many reliable painting processes available for windows and doors using specialist chemical paint processes, such as Kolorbond.
These can deliver good long-term colour fastness and stability but will not achieve the same effect as foiling. They are still a very popular option due to a more affordable price and flexibility. The lifespan is now well-tested over 20 years.
The sudden upsurge in demand for colours has led to the temptation of convenience painting using easily sourced automotive acrylics etc. In the past, it was extremely hard to get any paint to key to plastics and PVCU. With modern paints, it is now very easy. However, unless prepared well and etching processes properly followed, there could be stability problems even after just two to three years.
There is no doubt that colours are here to stay and will continue to make a statement either on front doors or on full houses. White, however, will always have a place as being timeless and it is envisaged that its popularity will return but never to the same levels as before.