The heart and soul of timber

Sometimes we forget that the timber from which wood windows are manufactured actually once lived and breathed. And breathing new life into the wood, by the passion and skills of the joiner, transforms it into beautifully crafted windows, says Mighton’s Mike Derham, and that’s the heart and soul of a timber-framed window.

PVCU window and door frames still dominate the replacement home improvement market, and today many new homes are also fitted with PVCU framed windows as original equipment, a stark change to the days when poor quality, unseasoned softwood frames were installed as the norm in new homes.

Indeed, the latter essentially gave PVCU the leg up back in the seventies when even new homes were delivered to their first occupants with the wood windows already showing signs of rot. It was not the timber window industry’s finest hour.

Much has changed since then with timber window frames now broadly regarded as highly desirable but pretty much the exclusive domain of those prepared to spend a great deal of money on their homes, or those compelled to do so by a legal commitment to maintain the character of the building.

In recent years, homeowners have been realising that despite the obsession of the PVCU window industry to get their frames to look just like timber and aluminium, both genuine timber window and door frames are affordable, perform as least as well as plastic, and look much better.

These days the timber industry has got its act together and, while cheap softwood frames are still readily available and installed, most homeowners will seek out high quality timber replacement windows in pursuit of maintaining the authenticity of their homes. This can be driven through a moral conviction to do so, or perhaps because they are duty-bound under certain conservation rules, but for many owners of such homes their driver is the life and soul that timber frames bring to a home, something that that other materials simply cannot emulate. This is an emotional USP of timber window frames that retailers should tap into.

The substantial and growing market sector for PVCU windows that are manufactured to emulate traditional styles of window frames, such as box sashes for example, is quite legitimate, but there should never be an automatic assumption that homeowners looking for a heritage style are exclusively price driven.
Genuine, high-quality timber frames may be more expensive but it is wrong to assume the customer will have already dismissed them as overpriced, or possibly even lacking in performance when compared with a plastic alternative. Quite often when genuine timber frames are introduced into the mix, and their narrative is delivered intelligently, the customer will buy into the additional emotional allure of timber. For the installer, that invariably means a higher value transaction and with significantly better margins than for highly competitive PVCU windows.

Timber, whatever it is used for in a home – staircases, bookshelves, floors, ceilings, and windows and doors – brings warmth to a property for its appearance, and the subliminal understanding that the item will have been manufactured and installed with an extra degree of skill and passion.
These are elements that can never be applied to frames in other materials. Make the most of the opportunities they can bring to a business; make sure timber is part of your portfolio.