What is FENSA?

It is every home owner’s nightmare to pay out a large sum of money for home improvements such as new double-glazed windows, only to find that the workmanship is not up to scratch or even worse, they don’t meet building regulations. Failure to comply with building regulations could mean the installation is unsafe and may even need to be removed, at the cost of the homeowner. You could even incur a fine from your local authority. This is where FENSA comes in…

But, what is FENSA?

The Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme (FENSA) is a government-authorised industry standard for self-certification of compliance with Building Regulations. It covers the replacement of external windows, doors, roof windows and roof lights in England and Wales.

Here, we’re going to take a look at all you’ll need to know about FENSA certification, what it is and how it can be obtained.

What is a FENSA certificate?

  • When was FENSA introduced?
    FENSA was created in response to the new building regulations introduced in April 2002. These require that any new double glazed door, window or roof light installations must comply with those regulations and meet certain thermal performance standards.  
  • When did FENSA certificates start?
    FENSA certificates were made compulsory from April 2002. 
  • What is a FENSA registration?
    A FENSA registration is held by installers who carry out work and supply products that comply with Building Regulations. Installers can self-certify the works they carry out and register the installation with the local authority on your behalf. 
  • What is a FENSA guarantee?
    A FENSA guarantee is an insurance backed guarantee that can cover the product and installation work for up to 10 years. This guarantee only applies if the installers are FENSA registered and the subsequent work carried out is also registered and certified. This guarantee serves as peace of mind for customers who are paying large sums of money for an installation, and also for home buyers who did not oversee previous work to the property. 
  • What is FENSA approved?
    FENSA approved installers can be large national brands or small local companies. All approved installers are regularly assessed to make sure they qualify to meet the required standards. If you use a company that is not FENSA approved, any works that include replacing windows, doors and roof lights will require you to get a certificate from Local Authority Building Control instead.

Do you need a FENSA Certificate?

  • Do I need FENSA certificate for replacement windows?
    Yes, FENSA certification is needed when replacing any windows, even if they are like-for-like. 
  • Is FENSA required for replacement glass?
    No, FENSA certification is not required for replacement glass, however it is always a good idea to have the work completed by a FENSA approved installer, for peace of mind. 
  • Does FENSA apply to wooden windows?
    Yes, FENSA compliance extends to all PVCu or wooden/timber windows and doors. 
  • Do I need FENSA for a conservatory?
    FENSA only applies to windows and doors of more than 50% glass, on the main part of a building. Any new conservatory, orangery will not be covered by FENSA and will need to go through the local authority Building Control Process. 
  • Are FENSA certificates required for listed buildings?
    If you live in a property that is a Listed Building and wish to replace your windows, this would fall under the jurisdiction of the relevant Local Authority. Therefore, planning permission would be required and the installation cannot be registered with FENSA. 
  • Does FENSA apply to internal doors?
    FENSA applies to external windows and doors. However, if a NEW doorway opening is to be created this will need to go through local authority Building Controls. 
  • Is FENSA required for single glazing?
    Whether a window is single glazed or double glazed, the replacement installation still has to meet the building regulations and meet thermal performance standards. Meeting thermal standards alone may indicate that double glazing is the preferential replacement.
  • Who issues FENSA certificates?
    Registered FENSA installers will issue you with a FENSA certificate on completion and register the work with the local authority. If you have used a non-FENSA installer, or completed the work yourself, you will have to apply directly to the local authority who will need to inspect the work before issuing the certificate. 
  • How to obtain a FENSA certificate.
    If you have work carried out by a FENSA approved installer, they will register the completed work with your local authority and the certificate should arrive 2-4 weeks after completion. If you are looking for a replacement for a lost certificate, you can contact FENSA and obtain a copy for a £25 fee. 
  • How to get a FENSA certificate from the council.
    If you have had work carried out by a non-FENSA registered installer, or have completed an installation yourself, you need to go through your local authority Building Control process to get the work signed off. If the installation meets the requirements, the certificate will usually take up to 2 months to arrive.

How much does a FENSA certificate cost?

If you use a FENSA approved installer to carry out the work for you, you will not pay anything for the certificate. If however you use a non-FENSA approved installer, or carry out an installation yourself, you will have to obtain approval on the work from your local authority Building Control, who will charge a fee. If you are looking to replace a lost certificate, the charge is currently £25.

How to become FENSA registered

If you’re a window fitter and would like to become a FENSA approved installer, this can be done directly through the FENSA website.

There will be a one-off application fee to pay, and then ongoing fees determined by the number of jobs your company completes annually. more details of which can be found, here.

FENSA installers are pre-approved for adhering to building regulations. They should offer an insurance-backed 10 year guarantee as a minimum on all work carried out.

So, for peace of mind and a quicker sign-off on an installation, it is always best to have your windows and doors fitted by a FENSA approved installer.

 

Green Kitchen Splashback

Choosing a Splashback for Your Kitchen: Which Type is Best?

Splashbacks have been a part of our kitchens for decades, if not centuries. They were designed to protect the walls of your kitchen from food, liquids and grease. And, they’re still used for this purpose today. Kitchen splashbacks are best placed behind a cooker, whether you have a gas, electric or an induction hob. But a splashback is also ideally suited for the wall behind a kitchen sink – some will go as far as using them across the entire length of a work surface. Not only do they serve a purpose, but they can also play an integral part in the aesthetics of your kitchen.

Using splashbacks to strengthen the design of a kitchen is not uncommon these days. They come in many different shapes, sizes, colours and styles, and a kitchen splashback can be truly unique to your home.

With so many options to choose from, we’re going to delve into the world of splashbacks to help you decide what type is best for you.

Types of Kitchen Splashback

Kitchen splashbacks don’t all have to be the same. Naturally, we favour glass splashbacks, not only are they durable and sturdy, they’re also easy to keep clean and great for modernising your kitchen; the possibilities are only limited by your imagination as far as design and installation goes. 

Alternatively, if you have papered or painted walls and want to add a bit of texture to your kitchen, a tiled splashback would be a great addition. Tiles look great and are fairly inexpensive to purchase and install, however there is a little more maintenance involved. The adhesive (grout) used to stick the tiles to the wall can be a little difficult to clean, and some food and liquid can cause stains, meaning you may have to regrout every so often.

If you want a splashback that doesn’t adhere to the wall, then an upstand is the choice for you. An upstand is used directly behind your hob and only sits around 100mm high. They tend to be filled with chipboard or solid stone to ensure maximum heat resistance, often acting as a continuation of your worksurface. 

As a general rule, an upstand doesn’t cover the entire wall behind the hob, this means there’s potential for food debris to taint the wall above the upstand, so the addition of a splashback in this area is advisable.

Choosing a Splashback Material

The first step in choosing a splashback for your kitchen is to decide on the material that you’d like to use. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh-up your options first.

Glass Splashbacks

Glass is a great material to use as a splashback. Today, you can get made-to-measure splashbacks in pretty much any colour, shape or design. So what are the pros and cons of choosing glass? 

  • Toughened glass is completely safe for use in the kitchen.
  • Glass can be easily customised in colour and shape.
  • Perfect for creating a real statement in your kitchen.
  • Can be used to clad walls in bathrooms too.
  • Glass has a flat, smooth surface, making it very easy to wipe clean.
  • Heat resistant.
  • Measurements are crucial for a glass splashback. You need to ensure there is enough room for the glass to expand so you don’t have any unwanted cracks or breakages.
  • Toughened glass can’t be cut on site to make room for sockets etc, so it’s vital measurements are accurate before they’re manufactured to order.

Tile Splashbacks

Tiles are a great splashback material. If you have plain kitchen walls, you can use different coloured tiles to create a colourful and truly unique splashback. Pros and cons of tiled splashbacks: 

  • Fully customisable in colour and size.
  • Heat-resistant.
  • Tiles can be adapted and cut to fit around kitchen sockets.
  • Depending on the type of tile adhesive used, stains may occur from splashed food.
  • The cost of fitting can be high.
  • Can be difficult to replace if needed.

Acrylic Splashbacks

Acrylic splashbacks are versatile and inexpensive. If you want to create a feature from your splashback, try using different and unusual shapes of acrylic to really add the ‘wow’ factor to your kitchen. Pros and cons of acrylic splashbacks:

  • Fully customisable in colour and size.
  • Water-resistant.
  • Can be cut to size on site.
  • Acrylic isn’t heat-resistant so you shouldn’t use an acrylic splashback near a heat source such as a hob.
  • Acrylic can be cut in many different shapes and patterns making it extremely versatile for plug sockets and unconventional kitchen walls. 
  • Not a totally rigid material so can warp or split over time.

Stainless Steel Splashbacks

Stainless steel splashbacks aren’t for everyone, but they can certainly be an affordable and practical option in a kitchen. Pros and cons of stainless steel splashbacks:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Can be cut to fit.
  • Non-porous and hygienic. 
  • Not always to everyone’s taste.
  • Can be difficult to keep smear free. 
  • Can warp over time.
  • Despite the name, stainless steel can stain, especially if the food debris is acidic such as that from lemons.

Colour Coordinating Your Kitchen Splashback

When it comes to coordinating your splashback with the rest of your kitchen, you need it to either blend in or stick out.

The colour that you use for your splashback is a personal choice however there are some factors to consider. Decide whether you want your splashback to match the rest of your appliances, units and countertops. If you do, it’ll be much easier to decide upon the colour, however you may not be able to find a perfect match. If this is the case, we’d suggest going a shade darker with your splashback.

If you want your splashback to stand out against a plain wall, we’d recommend going for a colourful piece of glass. You can even get sparkles put into it if you really want to make a statement!

For texture, tiles are the best material to use. For colour coordinating your kitchen, we think different shades of the same colour look beautiful as a splashback. An example of this is, if your kitchen is grey, then create a splashback with light and darker shades of grey – you could even include a few black tiles!

When deciding to install a kitchen splashback, we understand how difficult it can be to pick the right material, colour, design, shape and size. Glass, tiles and acrylic all have their pro’s and con’s but glass splashbacks sit firmly at the top of our list for practicality, design versatility and cost.

If you have any questions about splashbacks, or you’d like to learn more about the made-to-measure glass splashbacks that we supply including our colour matching service, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

 

Glass Shower Screens and Doors: FAQ’s

Shower curtains don’t have the best reputation. Perhaps it’s because they can easily look cheap or flimsy. Perhaps it’s because they so quickly get speckled with black spots of mould even when they come complete with a ‘mould resistant coating’.

Perhaps it’s because one of the cinema’s iconic murder scenes features a shower curtain as practically a third character (or is it just us that gets a Psycho-inspired shudder every time we hear the rattle of a shower curtain rail?)

And yet, for many people, a shower curtain is still the standard. Don’t they realise there’s another way? That’s why we’ve put together this FAQ guide for glass shower screens, to help you see the light on what your above bath options are, how to install them, look after them and why you should be looking beyond curtains to keep your bathroom dry.

What is a shower screen?

A shower screen is a glass panel which sits above your bath or from the floor to keep any excess shower spray from escaping. They fix to the wall (or tiles) usually using hinges, and they’re far more robust, easy-to-clean, and more aesthetically appealing than the flimsy plastic curtain alternative.

You can get three main types of shower screen for baths. The most common type is a single panel, which moves in one solid piece when it’s opened and hinges straight onto a wall bracket. The second option is a double panel, which has one smaller panel that is fixed in place, and a second panel that hinges open.

The final option is a foldable shower door, which can be folded completely out of the way to sit flush against the wall.

Are frameless shower doors safe?

Another option you can choose is a frameless shower door.

A firm favourite in wetrooms, a frameless option creates a modern minimalist look, can be easier to clean with less nooks and crannies to scrub. As they are made from tempered glass, a frameless shower screen is also every bit as safe as a framed option, though it will usually be slightly thicker to ensure maximum strength and safety.

What kind of glass is used for shower doors?

As we mentioned above, the majority of shower doors are made from tempered glass.

This is glass that has been heated, then rapidly cooled, a process which can leave it up to 5x stronger than untreated glass. Another benefit of tempered glass (also known as safety glass) if it is broken, it shatters into tiny crumb-like fragments rather than sharp-edged shards.

Do shower screens open in or out?

It is a requirement that shower screens are able to swing outwards on their hinges. This is in case someone has an accident or fall in the shower – to allow ease of access. It is also possible to buy screens with hinges that allow them to swing both outwards and inwards. This gives you the option of swinging your screen in to let it drip dry over the bath.

How big should a shower screen be?

There is no set size for shower screens. It is completely dependent on the size of your bath. Most screens will be around 1400mm-1500mm high but a wide range of widths are available and it is a case of tailoring one to your own bathroom.

As well as the size of the bath, you should also consider how strong your shower is. If you have a particularly strong shower, you will need a wider screen to prevent a lot of water spraying out.

What is the best glass thickness for a shower door?

The glass used for shower doors is usually between 3mm and 8mm thick. The exact thickness you need will depend on the size of the door, whether it is framed, semi-framed, or frameless and the style of your bath.

How do you measure a shower screen?

When you’re measuring for a shower screen, you need to measure the height you need as well as the width. Ideally you need the screen to stand higher than your shower head fitting, just to minimise how much water is able to escape over the side.

You also need to consider the size of your bathroom. You need the door to be able to swing outwards, so consider the width of your bathroom and where the rest of your suite is. You don’t want to install a screen that will bang against the wall, or your sink basin, every time you swing it open – this could damage the screen or whatever it’s hitting!

How do you install a glass shower screen?

Different manufacturers will provide different instructions for installing a shower screen, so we can’t really provide a generic overview. The hardest part of the process is usually installing the bracket that holds the door on the wall.

If you’re attaching it straight to the wall, this shouldn’t be particularly difficult, just make sure you read the instructions before you start to make sure you have everything you need. But, if you’re fixing a shower screen to tiles, you may want to consider finding a professional to do it. Tiles are a lot more fragile and may be difficult to replace if they get broken.

Are glass shower doors hard to keep clean?

The key to keeping glass shower screens clean, is to do it regularly. Rinse any suds off every time you shower, then once a week give them a ‘deep clean’ with a dedicated cleaner. Additionally, invest in a squeegee to sluice off any excess water, and you should find cleaning your screen is a doodle.

Why is my shower screen leaking?

The most common cause for a shower screen leaking, is the seal that sits between the bath and the screen starts to age. Luckily, it is pretty easy to replace shower screen seals, and you shouldn’t need to change the screen as well.

Glass shower screens make an excellent alternative to shower curtains that are easy to maintain and a lot more attractive.  If you’re redesigning your bathroom and looking to banish a disappointing curtain from lowering the whole tone of your room, take a look at our shower screens and doors, and don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have anymore questions.

Is Double Glazing Worth It?

If you’re thinking about replacing your windows, you’ve probably wondered exactly what are the benefits of double-glazing?

This is a sensible question to ask, and one that’s rarely answered fully. There are so many advantages, you can lose track before you’ve begun to completely appreciate the impact double-glazing can have.

To address this, we’ve put together a quick run-down on the many (sometimes underappreciated) benefits of double glazing including the insulation improvements and noise reduction qualities, to help answer the question does double glazing make a difference?

What is Double Glazing & How Does it Work?

For something that is almost standard in modern houses, it’s slightly surprising how many people don’t know how double-glazing works.

A common misconception reduces it down to the basic idea that placing two panes of glass in your windows must be better than simply having one.

But the reason why double glazing works so well is more complicated (and more impressive) than that.

Between those two panes of glass is sandwiched a layer of inert gas. An inert gas is far less conductive than regular air. This means it allows less heat to transfer from inside the window to the outside. If you’d like to learn more about inert gases in double glazing, our handy guide will help.

Does Double Glazing Reduce Noise?

Double glazing is usually associated with keeping heat in. Not a lot of people think to ask ‘can double glazing reduce noise?’ as well.

This is something of a shame because if you’re struggling with traffic noise invading your home, double glazing could be a key weapon to tackle it. In the best-case scenario, double glazing could provide up to a 50% reduction in external noise being heard inside your home.

How does double glazing reduce noise?

That extra layer of glass and insulating air doesn’t just slow down any hot air as it tries to escape. It also creates an extra barrier to prevent noise from getting in. Sound won’t travel as clearly through that second pane of glass.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the answer to the question ‘is double glazing soundproof?’ is always going to be yes. But, if you’re simply looking to minimise the impact of the outside world and keep your home a cosy, comfortable sanctuary space, double glazing is the answer.

Does Double Glazing Stop Condensation?

Another question that is frequently forgotten by anyone contemplating replacing their windows is ‘will new double-glazing stop condensation on the windows?’. Or, in the very least ‘will new double glazing reduce condensation?’

This is another ‘yes!’ for double glazing: it can significantly reduce the condensation you experience inside your home.

Condensation is a complicated problem, affected by things as varied as the age of your home, how it’s built and even how you use it. Condensation is caused when warm, moist air hits a cold surface (say, a pane of glass exposed to the outside elements). The rapid cooling of the air causes water droplets to form.

Thanks to the extra layers, the interior pane of a double-glazed window stays a lot warmer than a single pane would. The air doesn’t cool as fast or as far, and less moisture is released.

Will double glazing stop mould?

Condensation doesn’t just look unappealing – it can cause black mould to grow inside your home, too. And black mould, in turn, isn’t just unpleasant to look at – it could cause you or your family to become ill!

If you’re asking can double glazing stop condensation – the answer is not entirely.  If there’s a lot of moisture in your home, or a severe lack of ventilation, condensation may still form. However, you may see enough of a reduction to prevent mould growing. It should certainly make the condition more manageable.

Does Double Glazing Save Energy?

There is one question that anyone considering replacing their windows should already know the answer to. That being ‘does double glazing save on heating?’.

Afterall, no one wants to be wasting money on unnecessarily high heating bills. This is why so many people turn to double glazing in the first place, because it is so much more energy efficient.

How does double glazing reduce heat loss?

We’ve already mentioned the main mechanics of how double glazing reduces heat loss. The extra barrier layer of inert gas slows the travel of heat both into the house and out of it. Then there’s that second layer of glass.

But there’s also another often-overlooked aspect of double glazing to be considered: those fresh new window frames!

A well-fitting window frame, with a secure seal holding the pane in place, won’t be letting any warm air wiggle out and escape around its edges. It won’t be letting any cold air seep in either. This can effectively eliminate drafts around your windows. Another win for energy efficiency.

Will Double Glazing Add Value?

There is of course one last benefit any homeowner should consider before improving their home, and updating your windows is no exception: does double glazing increase property value?

Thanks to all the benefits listed above, updating your windows to modern double glazing will increase the purchase appeal of your home and add to its value.

With so many benefits to double glazing, it’s hardly surprising this is one of the most common home improvements people invest in. From the more obvious energy saving aspects, to minimising condensation, we may have even highlighted a few here that you’d never thought of!

How to Recycle Old Windows

When replacing your windows for shiny, new modern versions, your first thoughts might be on how great your home will look. You’re probably also thinking about energy savings and reduced bills. But what about the environment? Did you stop to consider how to dispose of old windows? Recycling, reusing or repurposing your windows are responsible ways to proceed, so we’ll talk you through everything you need to know. 

Can windows be recycled?

Yes, many windows can be recycled or reused. However, you need to start by assessing the materials and specifics of your old windows. If your house was built before 1970 and the original windows are still present, paint used in your home may have contained lead. There are rules specific to renovations including window and door replacements carried out in homes built before this time, so you’ll need to research this before you begin your window replacement. 

If your home does fall into this category, you may also need to follow regulations on how to dispose of your old windows which will rule out standard recycling routes. You can find more information via the Association for Project Safety who are an authority when it comes to best practices in safety risk management.   

We’re often asked if UPVC windows can be recycled. The good news is, UPVC is actually an easily recycled material, so the answer is yes! 

Next, you’re probably wondering how you can dispose of window glass. Glass is a recyclable material, right? So there should be plenty of options here. Unfortunately, things are a little more complicated when it comes to recycling window glass. A simple glass bottle actually has a different chemical composition to glass from a window. The melting temperatures are different too, so the two types of glass can’t be recycled together. 

Window glass can be many different types; such as tinted, safety glass, and tempered glass. Each type of glass needs different treatment which further complicates the recycling process. This doesn’t mean recycling is impossible though, we’ll explain how next.

How to Recycle Old Windows

To start the recycling process, first you’ll have to separate the different window materials. This means taking windows out of their frames.

How to Take Old Windows Out of Their Frames

Start by removing all moving parts from the window by unscrewing the hinges. Stack all the framed sections together. Saw through any upright central sections with care, then bang frames away from the glass using a hammer and chisel. 

Where to Take Old Window Materials for Recycling

Once you’ve separated the materials, you’ll need to find a centre that can recycle them. One of the best options when it comes to UPVC window recycling, recycling old double glazed units and more is a building materials reuse centre. You’ll need to search for one local to you (your local council is usually a good place to start) and speak to them to see which materials they accept before taking your old windows to be recycled. Take a look at this useful guide to recycling construction materials for more information. 

What Else can you do with Old Windows?

If you can remove your windows in tact, you can also find ways to repurpose them rather than recycling the individual materials. This is a great option for creative people who are looking to create a unique feature. 

How to Repurpose Old Windows

Here are some ideas for repurposing or upcycling your old windows.

  • Photo frames: An old window can make a great frame for a striking photo collage. Pick out your favourites and get creative!
  • Mirror: Replace the glass with a mirror and hang your old window in your home.
  • Garden feature: Use your old window to create a feature in the garden, dividing different zones or replacing a fence panel. 
  • Cabinet doors: If you’re really handy, you could create a bespoke cabinet and use your old windows as cabinet doors.

For more ideas, check out this great round up of window repurposing ideas

Responsible Window Replacement

Replacing your windows can really lift the look of your home and improve energy efficiency. But spare a thought for replacing responsibly by looking into recycling or repurposing your windows before you start your project. Make use of building material reuse centres or use creative ideas to help your old windows continue their lifespan in a useful way rather than ending up in landfill. You’ll find the whole process more fulfilling knowing you’ve done your bit!

Double Glazed Windows: Argon, Krypton and Xenon Gases

If you’re keen to have a house that is energy-efficient, cheap to run and aesthetically pleasing, one design aspect you will need to tackle is your windows. The insulation in a house is only ever as good as its weakest spot, and for most houses the windows are the weakest spot of all.  Large panes of glass are the perfect surface for letting warm air flood out and cold air seep in.

Double glazing is one highly effective way of tackling these heat loss holes.

With double glazed glass, two panes are sandwiched together which creates twice as much surface area for the air to pass through. But doubling the surface area is not the only way to optimise the benefit of double glazing – that thin gap between panes in modern double-glazed units can also be pumped with an insulating layer of gas.

Originally, this gas would have simply been air, but these days noble gases such as argon, krypton and xenon are usually used. These gases are heavier than air, meaning that heat is transferred through them much more slowly. Odourless and non-toxic, these gases are excellent insulators and add a much-needed efficiency boost to any window.

As mentioned, there are three gases commonly used for this purpose: argon, krypton and xenon. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks and choosing between them can seem complicated.

So, here’s a quick rundown of the qualities each of these choices have, to help you decide which gas best suits your windows.

Argon Windows

Your first option is Argon. This is the most commonly used gas in double glazing, possibly because it is the third most abundant gas in the world. In fact, it makes up nearly one percent of the earth’s natural atmosphere.

Are Argon windows worth it?

Argon is the industry standard for filling double glazing because of its ratio of cost to impact. In our opinion, argon windows are definitely worth it.

Despite being the least expensive of the gases available, including it in double glazing will significantly lower the U-Value of any window. Being around 35% less conductive than regular air, argon can increase the energy efficiency of a window by anything up to 30%.

Another, less recognised benefit of argon windows is their improved soundproofing ability. They are also less prone to clouding (interior condensation) because argon has less moisture in it than air.

How long do Argon windows last?

As well as being an effective and inexpensive choice by comparison to other gases, argon windows are also a durable choice. Fitted correctly, an argon filling should last for the entire lifetime of a window – no more than 5% of the argon gas should be lost over 25 years.

How do Argon filled windows work?

As with all noble gas filled windows, argon windows work because the gas held between the panels is denser than air. This means that less heat is transferred through them and lost to the outside. It also means that, in summer, less heat is absorbed into the room which is a blessing when temperatures turn tropical outside!

Krypton Windows

A slightly less popular option for double glazing is to fill it with krypton gas. This gas is denser than argon, which means it is even more insulating and energy-efficient. This efficiency does come at a cost though, and it is a significant step-up in price from argon.

Why is Krypton gas used in windows?

As we mentioned above, Krypton is used because it is so much denser than air, and highly energy efficient.

It is particularly well-suited to triple-glazed glass. This is because it works best in gaps between panes that are around ⅜ of an inch. In bigger gaps, it can lower energy performance because convection channels can form which can actually help the heat move between the panes rather than stop it!

Are Krypton windows worth it?

In certain circumstances, krypton can definitely be worth it. In particular with an older property, that was built to accommodate a single pane window system. This usually means a much smaller window space.

Argon works best in wider windows that have gaps of up to ½ inch between panes. This could prove too thick for a narrow window in a period property, but that would be perfectly suited to thinner, Krypton-filled panes.

Is Krypton gas better than Argon?

The choice between Krypton and Argon is best left to the individual as all circumstances and requirements are different. This is because it is that much more expensive, and the increased level of performance is usually nominal, particularly in small-scale or residential buildings.

Xenon Windows

One of the newest and most specialised gas-filling options is xenon. This gas is quite the “cutting edge” when it comes to building innovation and an impressive insulator.

Why use Xenon in windows?

If you are looking to install an exterior glass wall, or multiple panes of glass in a large commercial building for example, its performance potential make it your best choice when it comes to heat-loss prevention. As the gas it much heavier than the two previously mentioned, it’s even harder for heat to escape.

Are Xenon windows more expensive?

This higher level of performance means that yes, xenon windows are considerably more expensive than other options. Though, over time the heightened level of performance does mean that your heating bills will be lower as a result – weighing up where you’ll benefit most is the key when it comes to buying xenon-filled windows.

 Are xenon windows worth it?

There is an old adage about getting what you pay for and, with xenon, you get absolute premium performance. Problem is, you rarely need performance that high.

Installing xenon windows in a residential property is akin to buying an Aston Martin car and only using it once a week to pop to the shops. If you really wish to splash your cash, the investment might appeal but, for most, the extra expense just isn’t necessary.

We hope this post has shed some light on the mechanics of double-glazed windows, and how every feature of your window should be considered before you commit to a new set.

Glass Shelving: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are looking for storage that makes a clean, clear style statement, you’re probably considering glass shelves.

As stylish as they are practical, glass shelving units can be as much of a design decision as a storage solution. They maximise the space and light in a room, while still giving a sturdy, supportive surface to show off your belongings.

Unfortunately, wood often seems the safer, simpler option but this is rarely actually the case. So, we’ve put together a handy guide to glass shelving units, tackling some of the most common queries people ask.

Are glass shelves tempered?

When creating bespoke glass shelves, it is always best to use glass that has been toughened or ‘tempered’.

In order to temper glass, it is heated to an intense heat then rapidly cooled by subjecting it to blasts of cold air. This process puts the inner layers of the glass under a higher level of stress than the outer layers. This makes it a lot stronger: in fact, tempered glass can be up to 4x as tough as untreated glass.

Tempered glass is also safer, because it breaks differently. It shatters completely into crumb like pieces with no sharp edges or shards.

You are not legally required to use tempered glass when making shelves. However, here at KLG glass we use tempered glass for all our glass shelves because it is so much stronger and so much safer to do so.

How thick do glass shelves need to be?

There is no specific thickness that glass shelves need to be: it all depends on how much weight you want them to hold.

As a minimum, tempered glass shelves should be at least 4mm thick. This is fine for bathroom or other low usage shelves, that won’t need to hold more than a couple of shampoo bottles or a mug for your toothbrush.

For most purposes 8 or 10mm are a better bet. These can support heavier loads, but aren’t too costly.

Can glass shelves be recycled?

Tempered glass can be difficult to recycle. It has a different chemical make-up to untreated glass, which gives it a higher melting point. The recycling process for glass involves melting it all down, so if tempered glass is mixed in with untreated glass, you can be left with semi-solid globules of glass amongst the melted liquid.

You may be able to find specialists who can take tempered glass, but you can’t just chuck it  in your usual council recycling bin when you’ve finished with it.

How do you install glass shelves?

Installing glass floating shelves is not a complicated task. If you are fixing them to a wall, use anchors to secure them. These will include a ‘clamp’ section to fit around the surface of the shelf.

Specially designed wall anchors will help make your shelving secure, as well as preventing damage to the surface of your shelves. You will need sufficient anchors for the length and width of your individual shelves.

Can glass shelves hold books?

As long as the glass has been tempered, there is no reason for glass shelves to be unable to hold books. It is all dependent on the thickness of the glass you use and how many brackets you use to secure the shelves to the wall.

How are glass shelves measured?

Like most DIY items, glass shelves can be measured in inches or in millimetres.  These units can be applied to the length, thickness or depths of the shelves though obviously millimetres allow for the most amount of specificity.

Most manufacturers will offer glass shelves made to measure, allowing you to specify exactly what length and depth you want, and giving you glass shelving cut to size.

How do you attach a glass shelf to a mirror?

If you are looking for stylish storage options, few things beat a glass shelf/mirror combination. It’s all clean lines and reflected light!

For thinner shelves, like lightweight glass bathroom shelves, your best option is to bond the shelve straight on the mirror. This gives a great, clean, finish, but you will be limited on the load you can place on the shelf.

Alternatively, you can use brackets for glass shelving. These give you more flexibility on what you can put on the shelf but it can be a fiddly process that damages the mirror if done incorrectly. It’s best to get these attached by a professional.

How much weight can a glass shelf hold?

Throughout this FAQ we’ve discussed the different factors that affect how much weight a glass shelf can hold. If you need more guidance, there are plenty of weight load calculators online that can give you specific details.

How long can a glass shelf be?

Technically, there are no more limits on the length of glass shelving units than there is on wooden ones. Just remember that the longer the shelves are, you will need more brackets to keep them sturdy. For really long shelves, you may even need to consider thicker glass.

Can glass shelving be painted?

It is definitely possible to get a painted finish on glass shelving, that is glossy and durable. Thing is, we think the main attraction of glass is their light and space enhancing clarity, and a layer of paint can ruin that.

Instead, if you’re looking for ways to make your shelves more unique, why not consider getting them sandblasted or tinted. Smoky grey or black glass shelves could add depth to a room without completely sacrificing the transparency of the surface.

The clean cut lines of glass shelving can turn a practical necessity into a design feature. We hope this post has demonstrated how durable, how practical, glass shelves are, while also being the most attractive, modern choice.

Building Regulations: What You Need to Know

For any budding home improver, the prospect of building regulations can be a significant deterrent. There are so many questions around what exactly they are, when they apply and how you go about actually meeting them, that they can make the simplest DIY improvement job seem far more hassle than it’s worth. And, large scale jobs, like conversions or extensions, can become impossible tasks when you don’t even know the difference between building regulations and planning permission.

Luckily, UK building regulations are not really that confusing at all. They exist to ensure your home (or any building) is safe, efficient and practical. They are actually about protecting you!

Still, knowing that simple fact isn’t much help to someone in the process of updating their home, tussling with lists of approved documents and building regulations.

So, we’ve decided to put together this post as a primer on British building regulations.

As well as looking at what they are in a little more detail and signposting some helpful places where you can learn even more, we’ll get into specifics around building regulations for staircases and safety glass regulations so that you can ensure that any regulation-compliant product you purchase from us is as safe and secure when it’s installed as it was when we manufactured it.

What are Building Regulations?

Building regulations are statutory legal requirements that must be met when completing any form of construction. They were originally set out in the ‘Buildings Act of 1984’ and are regularly revised and updated to reflect new developments in construction materials, technology and health and safety. The most recent iteration of the act is Building Regulations 2010.

Their main purpose is to define the standards that must be met by all building work, to ensure the safety and health of anyone who uses the building after its completion.

The act also sets out as follows:

  • What building work is covered by them
  • Any type of work that is exempt (for example, in certain temporary buildings)
  • The notification procedures that must be adhered to at the start, during and completion of building work

Approved building regulations are classified under 16 headings, each one identified by a letter (Building Regulations Part A to P). They cover all aspects of the construction process including:

  • Energy (efficiency, performance as well as safety of gas and electrical systems)
  • Fire safety and protection
  • Structural integrity
  • Accessibility
  • Standards for drains and ventilation
  • Protection against contamination or ingress of water

To assist with compliance to the building regulations, the government published free accompanying documents (called ‘Approved Documents’) that provide general guidance and practical suggestions on how the regulations can be met.

When a house is sold, surveyors will ask to see proof that any building work that has been carried out is compliant with the relevant regulations. If you commission or carry out on your work, you should always investigate what regulations will apply and obtain proof they were met by either the person employed to complete the work or by applying for approval yourself, before the work is started.

Building Regulations and Planning Permission

A lot people confuse approved building regulations and planning permission. In fact, these terms are not actually interchangeable and refer to completely different legislative requirements.

Building regulations outline standards for specific building design and construction and features within, as outlined above. In contrast, planning permission is a way of guiding the development of villages, town and cities. It takes into account the effect on the general environment, encompassing the use of land, the building’s appearance, the required access and the impact on the local ecosystem.

As the nature of building regulations and planning permission differs so greatly, for most larger scale development projects you would need to satisfy both processes. For smaller scale internal building work, you may not need to seek planning permission but you will still need building regulations approval. You can find more information on exactly what work requires planning permission on the Government Planning Portal.

Building Regulations for Windows

You may wonder, when it really comes down to it, do you need building regs for windows? Structural integrity should be the same with or without window frames.

Most glass sold these days is strong enough to keep out the elements and stay safe: at the very least, is double glazing exempt from building regulations?

In actual fact, windows are covered by a number of different building regulations and whether you’re updating one front window, or replacing every pane in the house, new windows need to conform to those standards.

Some of the areas that cover windows, are what you would expect. For example, Part L of the building regulations deals with conservation of energy and energy efficiency, with a requirement that all windows provide a minimum level of insulation against heat loss. This is something that is really rather reassuring in a world of rising fuel prices not to mention sea levels.

Part K of the building regulations also has obvious relation to windows, as it covers protection from falling and lays out exactly where you can place windows and the need for safety glass.

Alternatively, you may be surprised to see windows covered in the section which deals with means of fire escape. Of course, when you look deeper, even this makes sense. For many domestic dwellings, the only means of escape on the first floor is through a window. Having a minimum unobstructed opening space so that people are able to evacuate through a window is a sensible precaution, and that is what is outlined in the Part B building regulations.

In fact, there are so many subsections that cover windows, that a scheme was set up to allow certain traders to self-certify their work as compliant. This is called the FENSA scheme, and it has a rigorous validation process, where installers have their work inspected to ensure standards are maintained.

You don’t have to employ a FENSA registered installer, but if you don’t you will need to seek approval through the relevant channels yourself. This applies to all new windows, including both UPVC and timber framed.

Building Regulations for Stairs

When it comes to staircases, Part K of the building regulations is the main section you need to consider. The section is named ‘Protection from falling, collision and impact’ and has a whole sub-section that deals specifically with staircases. Limits on the width, length and pitch of stairs are all laid out as are requirements for headroom, landings and handrails.

Even within the building regulations on stairs, there are a lot of subsections and extra considerations. Though the prospect of a handrail might seem like a simple yes or no question – do you need a handrail on stairs?

In an area as important as construction health and safety, there are always further details to be considered – how many stairs before a handrail is required? What height should it be at? What materials can the handrail be made from?

For any staircase with more than two stairs, a handrail is required – and if the staircase is wider than 1m, you will need a handrail or balustrades on either side. Height and material for handrails have a lot more specifics and conditions, but the details can all be found in the Part K building regulations, making it an essential read when you’re planning a new or replacement staircase or balcony.

Building regulations were set in place to make sure that any building you live in, work in, or even visit is safe, secure and accessible. It is in everyone’s interest to keep to them in every step of building work and if you undertake any significant work on a building that you own, compliance with the appropriate regulations should be a priority.

Hopefully you’ve now got a better handle on building regulations, what they are and how they impact you. Particularly with regards to double glazing units, glass balustrades and other home features we supply.

However, if you have further questions about how our glass products meet with UK regulations, or how you can incorporate them compliantly in to your building, call us today.

How Safe Are Glass Balustrades?

Glass balustrades make a highly attractive design addition to any office, industrial or residential space. Their transparency works to maximise light and thus opening up an area, they remove visual barriers and open up floors, rooms and mezzanines into bright, broad spaces.

Finishes such as frosting allow potential for attractive, effective customisation or branding, while their simple construction matches any minimalist, modern design scheme.

Unfortunately, when designing open plan spaces, many people will decide against glass. Usually because they are concerned about the safety.  Glass has a reputation for being fragile, too easy to shatter and too much of a risk.

In actual fact, there is little risk involved in choosing glass balustrades. This post will look at the many regulations and requirements that surround the construction and design of glass balustrades and demonstrate exactly what makes them a durable, attractive and SAFE choice.

Are glass balustrades safe?

Professionally installed, legislation-compliant balustrades are incredibly safe. Adding a balustrade, banister or barrier will always improve the safety of a staircase, mezzanine or balcony and your choice of material won’t change that.

A number of building regulations exist purely to ensure safety. Building Standard 6180: 2011 sets out the requirements for barriers that are constructed in any residential or industrial building, including the specific requirements for any made of glass. It specifies the type of glass that is needed, the necessary height a balustrade must reach and many other glass balustrade regulations.

As long as these regulations are adhered to, along with the ones contained within Approved Documents K and M, you can trust that any glass balustrades you install are one of the safest options you can use.

What type of glass is used for glass balustrades?

One of the key factors in the safety of glass balustrades is the type of glass used to make them. The thickness is another important factor. This is why building regulations clearly specify what is and what isn’t suitable for use in the construction balustrades.

In the UK, the regulations allow the use of two types of safety glass:

  • Toughened or tempered glass
  • Laminated glass

Toughened or tempered glass is the most frequently used type. It is made by exposing the glass to a very high heat, around 700°C and then rapidly cooling it. This is called ‘quenching’ and the whole process only takes around 60 seconds. Despite being so quick, this process can increase the strength of glass by up to four times by locking tension in the inner core of the glass.

After treatment, tempered glass is incredibly hard to break. The process also changes the way it breaks. Rather than splinter into sharp, dangerous, shards, tempered glass will shatter completely in to small, granular pieces. The smaller size and softer edges of these pieces make it much safer to clear up, ensuring that no jagged edges are left standing in frames or clips.

The other type of glass that can be used is laminated. This is made by sandwiching a thin layer of plastic between two layers of glass. It means that if one layer breaks, the second should stay standing.

The thickness of glass used will depend on the design and purpose of the balustrades. The minimum thickness for any glass balustrade is 10mm but certain situations may require the glass to be anything up to 21.5mm.

What height should glass balustrades be?

The required height of a glass balustrade will again depend on the purpose of the building it is used in and where in that building it will be used. These many variations are explored in Approved Document K which outlines specific heights for specific situations.

In residential premises, internal balustrades used to edge stairs, landings or internal floors or mezzanine levels must be at least 900mm (90cm) in height. External glass balustrades for balconies, staircases or rooftops, must be at least 1100mm (110cm).

Does a glass balustrade need a handrail?

It is possible to have a frameless or cantilever glass balustrade without a handrail. However, there are strict regulations over the type of glass that can be used without a frame or handrail; the balustrade must stay secure, even if part of it fails. This usually means having glass that is both laminated and toughened. You can consult BS 6180: 2011 for more details.

Safety benefits of glass balustrades

Not only are glass balustrades a safe choice, in many cases they are the safest choice.

  • They’re durable and long-lasting

Glass is a highly robust material that doesn’t degrade over time. Whereas wood might rot, or brick may start to crumble, glass will stand firm for the duration of its life. It is also immune to the impact of pests or pets and won’t suffer any structural damage from exposure to water.

  • They’re strong and hard to break

As we’ve discussed above, toughened glass is incredibly difficult to break. Whereas wood can splinter, or one spindle can snap. With glass, the stress of any impact is spread across a far greater area and thus lessened.

  • They’re transparent

As well as being an important design feature, the transparency of glass is also a potential safety benefit. It allows better visibility of what is going on around any stairs or balcony and allows better judgement of height.

Are glass balustrades child-friendly?

The last massive safety benefit of glass balustrades is that they are so child-friendly. Wooden or metal railing and banister options are designed with slats and gaps to stop them being visually overwhelming. This creates a big risk for eager little fingers or limbs. Glass balustrades can be designed with gaps too small for any miniature body parts to slip through or get stuck in, without needing a thick, ugly wall of material to block up the flow of your house.

Picking glass balustrades is a choice without compromise. They’re a stylish design statement that look attractive and maximise light and space. And, when you purchase them from KLG, you can also trust that they’ll be strong, secure and completely safe too.

How to Stop Condensation Forming on Windows

Curling up in a warm and cosy house while the world outside is icy cold, is one of winter’s greatest pleasures. But that joy can easily be lost when you start to see spots of condensation speckling your window panes. Not only does it make that frost-struck world harder to see, it can cause a niggling worry. Something about it just doesn’t feel right.

This is why we’ve chosen to share some facts about condensation on double glazed windows; including why it appears, the best way to tackle it and how you can prevent it even appearing in the first place.

What can cause condensation on windows?

The basic cause of condensation is moist, warm air hitting a cold, hard surface.

Warm air is able to hold a lot more moisture than cold air can, so when air cools suddenly any moisture in it is lost quickly, forming droplets. Windows are pretty much magnets for condensation. Being the thinnest point between the inside and outside, they are usually the coldest surface in the room. As a result, they’re often the first area in a home where condensation begins to form.

Is condensation on windows normal?

The good news is that condensation isn’t complete unusual, and doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your windows. However, condensation can cause serious damage to window frames and the surrounding area, so it is always best to tackle it as soon you see it.

Can condensation on windows cause mould?

The other reason you shouldn’t ignore condensation is that it can lead to the growth of black mould around your windows. As well as looking unpleasant, black mould can be harmful to your health and it is sensible to take reasonable precautions to prevent this becoming a persistent problem.

What can help prevent condensation on windows?

Your first thought for tackling this issue may be about how to absorb condensation from windows. But short of taking a towel and dabbing the glass glass, there is no reliable way of removing that moisture.

This is why it’s a much better idea to take steps to prevent the condensation forming in the first place. Particularly if you notice it appearing regularly throughout the crisp winter months.

If you’re looking to prevent condensation in your home, the first thing you should try to do is reduce the humidity in the air.

Condensation is a sure sign that there is too much moisture being generated and it’s becoming trapped in your house. Minimise this, and you will lower the chances of that unwanted water appearing.

The second thing you need to address is ventilation. A regular flow or movement of air will stop it fixing on to cold services, whilst also helping to maintain an even temperature.

One final, effective way to reduce condensation on old or single pane windows is to replace them. Double and triple glazed windows sandwich pockets of heat reflective gas between the panes of glass. This provides an extra layer of insulation, keeping the cold external air away from the warm air inside your house.

If you already have double glazing, you might be wondering why condensation keeps forming in the same area. This could be due to a fault with the sealed unit and it may no longer be air-tight causing the insulating gas with in the unit to “leak” out, as such the unit may need to be replaced.

The benefits of double glazing are two-fold, not only with they help reduce condensation, but can help lower your heating bills as well – so they’re definitely worth considering if you haven’t already.

How to treat condensation on windows

That covers the basic principles for combating condensation in your home. There are plenty of ways you can put these in to practice, but here are some simple tips that we recommend you try:

Don’t leave clothes to dry inside your house

Clothes dry when the water they were washed in evaporates. But that water is just evaporating into the air, which is where it will stay until it meets some cold, hard glass. If you can, get your clothes onto a washing line outside or invest in a tumble dryer.

But, make sure you get a dryer that can be vented to the outside via a hole in the wall or a condenser dryer which holds on to the moisture that is sucked out of the clothes. Otherwise, you’re still just replacing one source of moisture for another.

Turn on your extractor fans

Kitchens and bathrooms are usually the biggest culprits for causing condensation. All that steam, from your scalding hot shower or simmering pans, quickly fogs the air and will turn to water droplets on any cold surface it hits.

This is why you usually find an extractor fan in either or both rooms. These will suck up the worst of the warm, damp air out of the house. Keep them on for fifteen or twenty minutes after you’ve finished cooking or showering for full effect. If you don’t have an extractor fan in your kitchen or bathroom, opening a window whilst cooking/showering will ensure there’s adequate ventilation to minimise a build-up of steam.

Pop lids on to your pans

Another kitchen tip is to put lids on the pots and pans you use on the hob – particularly when you are boiling or steaming food.

This way, any evaporating water will simply condense against the lid and won’t escape to add humidity to your home.

Move your pot plants outside

Plants can bring a lot of life, light and freshness to your home. Unluckily, they can also bring moisture, especially if they’re situated on a window sill or in a conservatory. If you’re really struggling with condensation, consider removing any flowers or large plants for a while.

Invest in a dehumidifier

This is a machine that will suck a lot of the moisture out of the air. Just make sure to regularly empty the drip tray (where all the moisture will wait as water). If you don’t, you will just create another “source” of moisture to dampen the air. The gathered water can also begin to go mouldy, which means the spore and bacteria will start to circulate as the dehumidifier operates. This is definitely not something you want to happen.

Windows covered in condensation don’t just look bad, they can seriously damage your window frames and even impact on your health. We hope this post has give you some simple solutions for tackling it and shown it is not always bad news when you spot some condensation on your windows.