Lockdown space busters

Conservatories still offer attractive, great value extra space. But choose the glass with care to make sure there are no comebacks, says Graham Price of TuffX.

The window and door industry was buzzing from May last year when it became clear that, after sales imploded as lockdown stalled home installations, stir-crazy homeowners couldn’t wait to get their homes improved as restrictions were eased.

The following bonanza resulted in many installers finishing the year ahead of where they had budgeted to be at the beginning of 2020.

Consumer online and print media took up the craze for home improvements as we all saw far more of our homes than usual, and realised the limitations of having to live, work and entertain ourselves in the one space. Window and door sales soared, especially garden doors, as the weather saved us and allowed everyone to expand into their gardens; but we all need more internal space.

During the coronavirus pandemic, relatively little seems to have been made of the ability of glass-based extensions (especially conservatories) to provide the additional rooms so many of us have come to crave, and yet such structures provide an ideal solution. Fast to install, often free of planning restrictions, as well as being relatively cheap to buy, a boom in conservatory sales should become a defining characteristic of the fenestration market as the pandemic continues into 2021.

Installers will do well to get ahead of this anticipated spike in sales to ensure that the glass they offer their customers is right for the job.

The thrill of extending the home to add space for schooling, exercising or perhaps as a quiet space away from the other areas of the house now dedicated to those activities, will soon evaporate if homeowners find that space unbearable because it’s too hot or cold, noisy or difficult to clean.

Excitement will quickly turn to frustration and even anger as the solution to their space problems becomes unfit for the purposes they had in mind for their otherwise beautiful new garden room.

Whatever conservatory or orangery system the installer may choose, the choice of glass is often arbitrary. And within that, down to price pressures perhaps, is the temptation to go low-cost on the roof and window glass. And in a structure that has a significant glass area that is always a big mistake.

After realising that the market was crowded with standard glass suppliers, TuffX created a range of specialised, high performance roof glass units under the Ambience brand.

We created a range of high-performance roof glass units with focused performance characteristics when I felt the same concerns that I have now: a dream conservatory or orangery can simply become a nightmare if the wrong glass is installed. Homeowners must be made aware of the consequences of economising with the glass.

Ambience presents a broad choice of specialist glass to cater for all eventualities, including the self-cleaning Ambi Sunshade Blue, which is our best performing solar controlled glass with superb solar and heat reflection properties of up to 82%; and Ambi-Ultra, which offers 91% solar heat reflection and superb UV qualities, increasing the recreational appeal of conservatories, even in strong sunlight.

Ambience also includes Ambi-Max, which gives homeowners the option to choose larger single units for glass roofs, reducing the need for muntin bars and catering for oversized units up to 4,000mm; a unique offering at TuffX. There’s also Ambi-Triple, which offers centre pane U-values as low as 0.7W/m2K, some 30% better than standard double-glazed roof glass, along with enhanced sound reduction and improved solar control.

Simply presenting such information to homeowners will help them to grasp why they should choose their glass carefully, the most important component of their new conservatory. In doing so, installers will enjoy significantly better margins, and no call backs about their new installation being too hot/cold to use either.