Beware of unglazed R9 windows
Kurt Greatrex, sales director of Dekko Window Systems, explains why installers should steer clear of non-glass-bonded, unglazed Residence 9 windows.
If you’re a window industry veteran like me, chances are you’ll remember the ‘pinking profile’ issue that arose during the late 1980s and early 1990s. As systems companies fought for better margins they value engineered their formula, taking out essential components that resisted UV attack. The net result was profile discolouration that damaged the reputation of the PVCU window and door industry, costing installers £millions in the process.
Next came the pitted letter-plates and handles fiasco when shiny new PVD plated hardware arrived in the UK on mass from China. Six months after these products were installed, the plating started to pit and homeowners demanded their money back – costing installers £millions once again.
Neither product had been properly tested before being sold into the market in large volumes and, unfortunately, history is now repeating itself thanks to the growing number of fabricators preaching the benefits of buying non-glass-bonded, unglazed Residence 9 windows. Yet the fact is Residence 9 has been designed, fully tested and is trusted as a glass-bonded system, integral to its performance and longevity.
Residence Collection windows achieve industry-leading U-values through smart design; the frames and sashes are deeper than conventional systems, there are more thermal chamber pockets, and the chamber webs and external profile walls are much thicker. But most crucially, Residence 9 profiles are bonded to the glass unit, strengthening the mechanically jointed frame and eliminating the need for traditional steel reinforcements. Glass-bonding also prevents movement and bowing in a system designed without large steel reinforcements.
Steel reinforcements have been used since the advent of PVCU windows to give the window strength, in particular, the lateral ‘I value’ in the sash. When it’s windy, steel reinforced frames stay rigid, and when it’s hot, the steel keeps the PVCU in shape and resists any bowing, ensuring the window will close and seal properly.
The downside of steel reinforcement is that it reduces the thermal performance of the window, so eliminating it through glass-bonding is really smart – the window is just as strong but offers significantly improved performance.
So, when I hear that fabricators are promoting Residence 9 windows unglazed and without glass-bonding, my knees begin to tremble. Are we going to see product warranty issues with the best premium window in the industry, due to out of specification manufacturing processes? I have personally seen the consequences of non-glass-bonded welded Residence 9 sashes in a dark foiled finish and it’s not a good outcome. The net result is call backs, replacements, unnecessary costs, and customer disappointment – a terrible outcome considering all installers rely on recommendations.
It’s true to claim that unglazed timber-welded and welded Residence 9 will be cheaper to buy, a bit easier to handle, and if a glass unit does fail, then the IGU will be a bit easier to change. But in reality, a window that isn’t factory glazed and glass-bonded can cause major problems once its installed into a home, when it’s fundamental design is based on this trusted glazing process.
If you choose to buy unglazed Residence 9 you have to glass-bond on site, but how practical is that? Glass-bonding should be carried out in a dry factory environment and allowed to cure and set for a specified period – you simply cannot guarantee these conditions when out on site.
We have highlighted the issue with the team at the Residence Collection, and they agree that unglazed, unbonded Residence 9 is simply not manufactured to current specification. To be fair to them, they are currently researching and testing all of the new welding technologies in conjunction with glass bonding, as part of a diligent process as a premium systems company. We also know that they are, in communication with the machinery companies, and to their knowledge, no product testing has been carried out on unglazed Residence 9 windows, therefore, any product warranties will fall purely to the fabricator or installer. Would any installer want to install a product without the backing of the systems house?
Sarah Hitchings, sales and marketing director at The Residence Collection said: “We recommend fabricators follow the Residence technical manual and glass bond all units whether welded or mechanically jointed. Glass bonding is an integral part of the design. We are in the process of further evaluating the impact of some of the latest welding methods as well as weather and security performance.”
We understand just how tough it is for installers at the moment, facing fierce competition at both local and national level, as well as external forces already making it harder for consumers to commit. The promise of one of the industry’s hottest products at a cheaper price is of course incredibly attractive. However, it’s a false economy: an inferior R9 window creates more problems than it solves and you can’t be sure your supplier will support you when things do go wrong.
Dekko has achieved PAS24 accreditation across the entire Residence Collection range – including R7, R9 and the aluminium lookalike R² – meaning if you’re installing on new-build, self-build or renovation site you can be assured of a safe and secure product.
While some fabricators are cutting corners to drive down prices, we have always been committed to doing things right. We employ a dedicated Residence Collection team and have a separate manufacturing facility to ensure absolute quality. We simply won’t cut corners and provide our customers with products we know to be below par. It’s a crying shame that more fabricators don’t share our ethos.