Which is better? There’s only one way to find out: read on

Wooden frames, as seen in this double Glazing image by AVN Photo Lab

Wooden frames, as seen in this image of double glazed windows by AVN Photo Lab.

Since Ug the caveperson uttered his or her first words, we have argued over some things in our time. A child of the ‘80s would have argued about their choice of computer. He or she would have been bigging up their ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, or Tatung Einstein. In the 1990s, whether you listened to Oasis or Blur polarised music lovers. Among our industry, it is the choice of windows frames that have a polarising effect. We at Chartwell Wooden Windows (as our name suggests) favour wooden frames.

Wooden window frames can outlast PVC-U frames. It is worth noting that some properties have wooden frames well over 50 years old, that are kept in tip-top condition. Some have lasted for hundreds of years without rotting, because of proper maintenance.

Yet, from Folkestone to Stornoway, most households go for PVC-U double glazing. What has deterred some households from using wooden frames was their previous experience. That of poorly treated wooden frames. Another could have been the sales pitches and TV advertising that has given PVC-U a favourable press. That of their economy; of secure locks, and its association with double glazing.

In times past, wood was the only game in town. The arrival of PVC-U meant a break with draughty sash windows and open windows flapping away. Their introduction screamed modernity. Wood was seen as old fashioned.

Today, we live in more enlightened times and have rediscovered wooden frames. Not only for their aesthetic value, also on their environmental grounds.

Wooden Frames

Advantages

  • Character: wooden frames are the best option for older properties. PVC-U windows are more suitable on properties built after 1970.
  • Environmentally Friendly: wooden frames are breathable and offer natural insulation. Their production is also more environmentally friendly, so long as timber is sourced from properly managed forests.
  • Longer warranty period: typically 30 years compared with 10 years for PVC-U equivalents.
  • Cheaper in the long term: compared with PVC-U, its longer warranty period makes for a cheaper cost per year.
  • Can last beyond a 30-year warranty: properly treated and painted at regular intervals, wooden frames can last for more than double the warranty period.
  • Flexibility: for example, wooden window frames can accommodate triple glazed windows better than their PVC-U counterparts.
  • Easy to repair: replacement is easier and less labour intensive than PVC-U-framed windows.

Disadvantages

  • Cost varies according to wood types: you get what you pay for. As with furniture, softwoods are less durable than hardwoods.

PVC-U Frames

Advantages

  • No rotting issues: no worries about rotting frames – PVC-U is non-biodegradable.
  • Cheaper initial cost: also due to competition with other window fitting companies chasing similar customers.
  • No need for painting: as well as white, PVC-U frames are also available with wooden veneers.

Disadvantages

  • Short warranty period: a typical warranty period for PVC-U windows is ten years – only a third of the typical warranty period for wooden framed windows.
  • Environmentally damaging production and disposal: PVC-U window frames, with plastic being a byproduct of crude oil, is hard to break down and dispose of. Its manufacturing process uses six of the fifteen most toxic chemicals, as listed by European governments for future elimination.
  • Ugly to look at on older properties: especially on curved windows – for example on properties with Art Deco or Streamline Moderne styles, like the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.
  • Difficult to repair: also environmentally unfriendly and labour intensive.

Our verdict?

Unanimously, we favour wooden frames all the way. It is their flexibility, also the lower environmental costs compared with PVC-U. What may surprise you is how much they cost compared with PVC-U equivalents.

For the environment, and your home, wooden frames are a good all-rounder. Today’s frames have improved locks and insulation compared with earlier models. It is possible to have most of the features seen on PVC-U frames added to wooden window frames and we like that a lot.

Chartwell Wooden Windows, 19 May 2016.

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