From energy efficiency to style: The ultimate guide to buying new windows
Summer is fast approaching so it’s the ideal time to think about improving your home or business premises.
Whether you’re building from scratch or updating an existing house or building, one of the most important decisions you make will centre on your choice of windows. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.
The right windows will lift your home to a new level, will show the world the unique personality of where you live and will also keep you and your family secure and safe. Make the right choice and they will also save you money in the long term.
We spoke to Stephen Harmon and John McMenamy from NorDan Vinduer, a Norwegian company specialising in providing energy efficient, durable and stylish windows and doors throughout Ireland and Europe. They revealed what Irish consumers should look out for if they’re planning to do a refurbishment.
The company has been operating in this country for 16 years, and is going from strength to strength.
“If your windows are properly treated and looked after, they will last,” McMenamy maintains.
What is the ideal style of window for my home or place of work?
This is something that depends both on your location and the layout of your home and building.
Casement windows are the most commonly found in Ireland. In relative terms, you’ll find that the bigger the window, the lower the cost. Generally, you’ll find that these windows open outwards, but you can find open-in casement windows if, by opening outwards, it obstructs a pathway.
Bay and bow windows are perfect if you’re looking to bring space, light and depth to your home or place of work. They can help you to add extra storage, and look fantastic from the outside.
Tilt and turn windows are also a very popular, and versatile, window within the Irish market. These inward-opening windows generally come with either one or three handles and a number of locking points, allowing you to open the window partially in a fixed position or open inwards entirely for easy cleaning.
Fixed windows use a fixed frame that cannot be opened. They’re perfect for allowing extra light into a building where access is not a concern, and allow you to frame particular scenery outdoors.
Combination windows comprise a fixed window and an opening window all within a single frame.
Should I look for certification?
In a word, always.
NorDan mainly provide alu-clad timber windows, which are tested by third party certification schemes for water tightness, air tightness and paint adhesion among other factors.
Aluminium-clad windows reduce the need for maintenance and are a significant step above the cheaper and far less durable uPVC windows. NorDan’s alu-clad timber windows come with a 30-year guarantee against both rot and fungal decay, something that is unique to the company in Ireland.
“Window warranties are something that people rarely ask about, and it’s the same with certification,” McMenamy states.
“Most people look for reviews of cars, or washing machines, but few people look for reviews and certifications for windows. An Agrément certificate is an assessment from experts who will test opening/closing, water tightness, air tightness, durability of the ironmongery, corrosion resistance and even paint adhesion. It’s a full assessment of how well the window has been made.
“This is something that someone who’s spending up to €25k on windows needs to be aware of, to look for certification.”
How can I be sure my windows will be both energy efficient and stand the test of time?
The greenest energy of all is the energy that is never used. When sourcing your windows, it is important to look for wood that is preservative-treated to an NP3 standard, which enables companies like NorDan to offer a warranty of up to a 30 years on their windows and keep those electricity bills down.
Look for aluminium that has been coated to a coastal standard.
“We’re going up against salesmen who insist that they can match our 30-year guarantee,” says Harmon. “And people believe them. What people need to do is ask, ‘Where’s your back-up for that?’
“We give the back-up to the warranty, the reasoning behind it, which is not something other suppliers can do. We suggest customers really dig deep when it comes to those guarantees.”
Why do Irish people need different windows to those in Central Europe?
McMenamy asserts that NorDan’s Norwegian heritage makes their windows particularly suitable within Irish homes, particularly when it comes to the kind of “wind driven rain” that doesn’t tend to fall as much in mainland Europe as it does in Ireland, Britain and Norway.
“Window design has to incorporate the elements,” he insists.
“There’s a perception that Ireland is the wettest country in Europe. Parts of Norway are actually far wetter, particularly the south-west coast. As they’re dealing with this wind-driven rain, window design has to incorporate those elements. The wind puts strain on the glass. We deal in windows that are designed for this climate, rather than windows that are designed for a central European climate.
“NorDan have been supplying to Ireland for 16 years but have been in the UK for 30 years, operating in places like the Shetlands and Orkneys, but any concerns that these alu-clad timber windows are not suitable to Ireland are wrong.”
He adds that the principle of ‘drained and ventilated’ design is essential when it comes to battling particularly nasty weather.
“Norwegian people have a tradition and heritage of working with wood; if your windows are properly treated and looked after, they will survive.”
NorDan is a leading supplier of high-performance doors and windows in Scandinavia, and their full range of residential and commercial products is now available in Ireland.
Find out more about the company’s projects and products on the NorDan website.