Windows buying guide for Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Once your windows have been installed, you can look forward to brighter days, warmer nights and lower energy bills. However, if you haven’t been given the correct advice or carried out enough research to begin with, problems can occur. Avoid issues with your new windows with this helpful buying guide.

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1. Window installation quality

As well as the issues listed above, window replacement quality can also be compromised by higher household energy bills, careless/incomplete caulking (window sealant), gaps between the frame and the sill, and glass stains and discolouration.

Often caused by poor workmanship, faulty installation and/or low-quality window products, this flags up the importance of researching a range of local installers before taking the next step.

Look out for encouraging trust signals, such as:

Bay window interior
Irish oak flush sash windows

2. Window material

Today, window frames are most commonly available in three materials: classic timber, modern aluminium and versatile uPVC. Often the most expensive of the three, timber windows are typically chosen in areas where window replacements must be 'like for like', e.g. conservation areas. Naturally insulating, timber windows require the most maintenance. Aluminium windows are renowned for their contemporary, slender, robust frames, often chosen to enhance more modern properties.

uPVC remains the most widely used window frame material, thanks to its high performance and low maintenance qualities. Versatile, efficient, durable, and affordable, uPVC windows can achieve some of the highest Window Energy Ratings around. Thanks to advances in the manufacturing process, uPVC is also a viable ‘timber alternative’; able to seamlessly mimic the look of traditional timber frames, so they can be considered in conservation areas too.

3. Window glass & glazing

Typically making up 70% of the window, your choice of glazing will affect your homes thermal efficiency as well as sound insulation levels. Wasting up to 40% of your home’s energy, more energy can be lost through inefficient windows than through the walls and the roof!

Single glazed windows inevitably suffer from cold spots, draughts, and increased noise disruption from outside, which is why double glazing is the minimum standard for new windows in Britain. Containing a sealed unit made from two panes of glass, these are separated by gaps filled with air or argon gas to slow the transfer of heat through the windows. Triple glazing adds a third pane of glass, designed to heighten security, and eliminate condensation, draughts, and noise from outside even further. Upgrading from single glazing to double glazing can save around £100-140 per year on household heating costs and upgrading from single glazing to triple glazing can save around £175 per year.

Depending on your situation, there are other types of glass and glazing that are also worth considering:

Low E glass - Features a very thin, see-through layer on the inner pane of glass that allows the sun's heat inside and reflects it back into the room to increase energy efficiency and lower heating demand.

Solar control glass - A special coating that reduces the amount of heat entering through the window. Available with a tinted, reflective, or neutral finish, solar control glass is also ideal for rooms that suffer from the sun’s blinding glare.

Toughened glass – Up to five times stronger than regular glass, toughened (or tempered) glass is designed to shatter into small blunt pieces. The ideal glazing option for balcony windows, windows below 80cm from floor level, windows 30cm or less from a door and windows up to 150cm from floor level must be fitted with toughened or laminated glass to comply with Building Regulations.

Laminated glass – Made by bonding two sheets of glass together, laminated glass features an interlayer that holds the glazing together even if its broken. Laminated glass could be considered for homes or businesses at higher risk of break-in or low-level windows, as mentioned above.

Acoustic glass - Made in a similar way to laminated glass, the bonded internal layer reduces external noise by absorbing sound and vibrations. Acoustic glass is ideal for areas located near busy roads, schools and airports.

Self-cleaning glass - Featuring an ultra-thin coating of titanium dioxide on the outside, self-cleaning glass conveniently breaks down dirt by reacting with the daylight.

Obscure glass - Obscure glass reduces visibility, which is why it's often used in bathrooms. Gauged on a privacy rating scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most private), there are a range of patterns available, from classic right through to contemporary.

Decorative glass - Decorative glass is used to create unique glass features in the home and is available in textured, etched, stained and sand blasted designs, as well as colour film overlays.

Double & triple glazing

4. Window Energy Rating (WER)

Window Energy Ratings allow you to compare the performance of different window products. Indicated by a rainbow coloured label, similar to those found on household appliances, they provide peace of mind that the window has been independently verified for thermal efficiency. Based on a scale of D to A+++ (A+++ being the most efficient), since October 2010 replacement windows must achieve a minimum WER of band C to comply with Building Regulations.

Find A-rated windows

5. Window style

It’s essential to choose a window style that complements and enhances your Yorkshire home. However, this doesn’t mean having to stick with the same style of window. At Global Windows, we have a wide variety of styles to choose from:

Casement windows – Typically opening from the side like a door, casement windows work well with any kind of home.

Flush sash windows – Unlike typical casement windows that slightly overlap the frame, flush sash windows sit ‘flush’ against the frame to provide a neat, flat exterior appearance, synonymous with traditional timber window frames.

Sliding sash windows – Historically found within period architecture and traditionally styled homes, sliding sash windows feature one or two moving panels that vertically slide open and shut using a counterweight or spring balance mechanism.

Tilt & turn windows – Operating on a two-way functioning system, tilt & turn windows tilt from the top or bottom for secure ventilation and fully open inwards from the side for easy cleaning.

Bay & bow windows – Originating from English Renaissance mansions and very fashionable in Victorian times, bay and bow windows are multi-panel windows that project outward beyond the external wall of the property. Bay windows typically feature 3 windows fitted at angles of 90,130 and 150 degrees, whereas bow windows are fitted at an angle of around 10 degrees to create a curved protrusion that usually features 4-5 windows.

Picture windows – Picture windows are fixed pane windows that do not open.

Bespoke windows – Not all window are rectangular or square. Bespoke windows are tailormade to accommodate arched, round, angular, apex or other unusual window shapes.

Egress windows – Also known as fire escape windows, egress windows feature special hinges that allow for openings of almost 90 degrees. Enabling residents to safely exit a building in an emergency, egress windows are required in any habitable room up to 4.5m above ground level, although exceptions may apply for ground floor rooms that open onto a corridor leading directly to an escape window or an external door.

Period detailing – Create traditional charm with any window style by adding Georgian bars (fit inside the unit) astragal bars (fit inside and externally), classic diamond or square leaded glass designs, woodgrain-effect finishes, authentic sash horns tailored to sliding sash windows and matching handles and hardware.

R7 Home
espag window handle

6. Window security

Often the main reason for upgrading windows, don’t forget to consider:

Is the glazing internally beaded? (the part of the frame that holds the glass in place)

Internal beading is positioned behind the glass, preventing intruders from removing it and gaining access.

Is there multi-point locking?

Multi-point locks bolt the window into the frame, locking it at multiple points.

Are key lockable handles available?

Have they passed PAS 24 security tests?

Are opening restrictors available?

Do they have night vents?

Night vents enable secure ventilation throughout the night.

Window security features

7. Planning permission for windows

Planning permission is not usually required to replace windows, unless your home is a listed building or located within a conservation area, another designated area or falls under an Article 4 Directive. It will depend on your specific area, so it's always worth double checking with your local planning office or a local double glazing expert.

Situations that will require planning permission for windows include:

  • Installing an upper-floor side elevation window that is not obscure-glazed and can open (unless the opening part is 1.7m from the floor of the room)
  • Adding a new bay or bow window to the front of the house
  • Changing window style and colour in listed buildings and houses located in conservation areas
Windows suitable for conservation areas
Residence 9 uPVC windows on traditional cottage
Leaded bay window

8. Building regulations for windows

Controlling the quality and safety of a structure, replacement windows will always need to comply with current building regulations. When it comes to building regulations for windows, bear in mind:

Energy efficiency
Replacement windows must achieve a minimum WER of band C to comply with Building Regulations.

Safety glazing
Windows below 80cm from floor level, windows 30cm or less from a door and windows up to 150cm from floor level must be fitted with toughened or laminated glass to comply with Building Regulations.

Areas that experience excess steam production will require additional ventilation, e.g. trickle vents for windows.

Fire safety
e.g. picture windows will limit the spread of fire between properties.

Means of escape
e.g. the width and height of an egress window (emergency escape window) must not be any less than 450mm, with a Clear Openable Area of no less than 0.33m², and the windowsill height should be no more than 1100mm above the floor area.

When you use a CERTASS registered installer (like us!) we will take care of all of this for you.

Further support on building regs

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