Why timber attracts the environmentally aware consumer

Nicola Harrison
Nicola Harrison

Nicola Harrison, MD at timber window and door supplier Bereco, explores why timber is a highly sought-after home improvement material thanks to its sustainability and durability.

If you’re reading this and you’re a housebuilder or developer you may be familiar with people often questioning the cost, quality and performance of timber windows. Unfortunately, it’s not just people within the industry who have these types of concerns.

In fact, for many years consumers have chosen cheaper home improvement products for their new windows and doors creating the all-encompassing power of the PVC-U industry. It has been the go-to-material for decades, dominating the fenestration industry and pushing timber away from the limelight.

However, this might be about to change as environmentally conscious customers are now demanding all-round better sustainability from whatever they spend their money on.

To understand homeowners’ current thoughts regarding replacement windows and the material they’d be willing to invest in, our team at Bereco conducted a recent survey. The research found that when it was time to replace their windows more than one in 10 (11%) homeowners would pick timber because they wanted a material which was durable and long-lasting.

While traditional timber developed a bad reputation for shrinking and distorting, thanks to incredible advances in technology, the product has evolved into a fantastic building material.

Today, quality manufacturers and suppliers only use engineered laminated sections of timber which means that warping and twisting are truly a thing of the past. What’s more, each section of timber is carefully treated with a specialist basecoat, before they’re assembled into window frames, to achieve maximum longevity.

Ultimately, factory finished timber windows are able to provide much better protection against the elements and need less maintenance throughout their lifetime. In fact, high quality timber windows that have been properly manufactured and cared for can last up to 60 years, which is twice as long as other alternatives.

Sustainable window materials

Our investigation also discovered that more than 60% admitted it was important that their windows were sustainable, and more than a third (38%) agreed that timber is more energy efficient than either PVC-U or aluminium.

While timber faces fierce competition with PVC-U over its initial price, as we’ve said many times in the course of our journey as a company committed to sustainable principles: nothing should ever cost the earth – literally.

Today, timber not only has a lower lifetime cost compared to PVC-U but a 1.23m wide x 1.48m tall timber window has a global warming potential of -60kgCO2e per window. The reason is that when felled, timber retains and stores the carbon it has removed from the atmosphere, unlike alternative materials like PVC-U and aluminium.

At Bereco, we only source timber from sustainably managed forests which replace more than they fell, helping to remove even more carbon from the atmosphere. Since starting our business, we have supplied over 261,000 wooden windows and doors saving an incredible 66 million kgCO2e.

Lowering carbon emissions

There’s recently been a big push from the government to tackle the climate crisis and in June 2022 new building regulations were announced to cut UK construction’s contribution to global warming. As a result of these changes, firms involved in new build projects must now produce at least 31% less carbon.

The regulations also tighten ‘U-values’. Our windows easily meet the new notional target of 1.2W/m²K, with our triple-glazed products reaching an ultra-low U-value of 0.8W/m²K. This demonstrates that high-quality timber windows designed today can deliver outstanding thermal performance.

It’s testament to the strength and rigidity of timber that many original wooden windows and doors within older properties are still around today, decades after they were built.

At Bereco we’re passionate about making a real difference. We believe unashamedly about the future of our planet through being environmentally conscious and we know that consumers feel the same way too.

Therefore, for us all, working more closely with sustainable products like timber is a positive step in the right direction.