Quality measures for window profiles
Russell Hand, head of product management and technical at Rehau Windows, is urging fabricators and installers to educate consumers on the importance of retaining standards when it comes to window assembly.
This is one of the most challenging times the windows industry has ever faced. However, our industry has long-endured the shadows of a few rogue traders from years gone by, so now is not the time to compromise quality in order to win work.
Instead, educating consumers on the importance of investing in a quality window system, beyond just the profile, will pay dividends in the future. Since you wouldn’t put a Ferrari engine into a Mini car, you should ensure a window’s constituent parts are up to the job.
Firstly, let’s discuss what goes into a high-performance profile.
While many profile systems have reduced wall thickness over time to reduce the cost of extrusion, a thicker wall profile improves the screw retention. This means hardware and steel reinforcing are less likely to become loose, ultimately resulting in a more robust solution. For example, Rehau’s Total70 range has actually kept a 3mm wall thickness for over 58 years.
The quality associated with a company doesn’t just come overnight. Evidence of extensive testing and recognition from industry accreditation schemes are important and should be sought when selecting a supplier.
A high performing window will be independently tested at a Ukas test centre, recognised by government. When researching window profiles, the following standards are what a customer should be looking for to guarantee a long-lasting window: A-rated WER; the highest requirements of BS EN 12608 and BS 7412; ‘severe’ weather conditions according to BS 6375-1 for wind resistance, air permeability and weather performance; and PAS 24 (Enhanced Security Performance) enabling straightforward compliance to Approved Document Q (ADQ), and Secure by Design (SBD) etc.
Rehau has long been campaigning on why steel reinforcement matters. It is important that fabricators and installers know the risks associated with installing sub-standard windows and doors, which could result in health and safety issues leading to hefty fines, every time they use non-approved steel reinforcements for PVCU installations.
Making educated decisions and instilling confidence in the consumer will hopefully raise the standard of steel reinforcement choices. If a sub-standard product is selected, it could impact performance and cause call-back issues, costing time, money and reputation. Choosing approved steel will mean they have been suitably tested to full industry standards.
The growth of the ‘smart home’ has opened the door to a higher quality of life, and the window sector is set to play a major role. There are a number of ways in which technology is developing to enhance the humble window profile. These include: enabling privacy through non-transparency; improving individual sun protection and reducing heat transfer through shading; enhancing security through intelligent sensors; and self-regulation of the surrounding climate through ventilation.
Most of the time, savvy consumers know exactly what they want when they enter a home renovation project, particularly at the premium end of the market. Individuality is a major trend we’re seeing evolve, not just in windows, but across the wider home improvement market. People are tired of seeing the same styles over and over again so are likely to become more challenging when it comes to the ancillaries.
Therefore, Rehau works with a number of partners to offer complementary products to suit the quality of its profile. This includes working with hardware partners to create ranges of handles and hardware that balance individuality with performance. Another example is Rehau’s Skyforce, a Juliette balcony, which can be customised to suit style but also complies with the current Building Regulations for protection from falling, collision and impact.
Achieving quality and innovation doesn’t come from standing still, and by continuing with the same method diminishing results are inevitable. Sometimes the best ideas come from outside your own industry. Windows materials have evolved to become what they are by learning from other high-performance industries. Rehau, for example, is a global company that also works across automotive and aerospace, so the procurement teams are also sourcing materials for some of the most recognisable brands around the world. This makes products safer, more comfortable, more convenient and even more sustainable.