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!

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.