Material Value: Aluminium, Wood or uPVC?Published on 17th February 2015
When it comes to building glazed extensions home-owners are faced with a number of decisions. While size and shape are always priorities there is one further design element which should be given equal consideration: what the extension is to be made from. For the last few decades opinions have been split in regards to the best material for constructing frames, with uPVC, aluminium and wood sparring for the top spot. This week we thought we’d take a look at the pros and cons of each material in regards to five key criteria.
Flexibility – uPVC thermoplastic is easily moulded, allowing for a quick and cost-effective structure to be formed. For single storeys it can work well, but it lacks the necessary strength for taller extensions, or those which play a greater part in the structural integrity of an existing home. Wood is stronger and can work beautifully in all manner of structures, but it is slightly restrictive in terms of size, meaning that sightlines will be restricted by a thicker frame. Aluminium is incredibly strong and surprisingly light weight, allowing you to build to almost any height or shape, and support almost any weight while delivering the slimmest sightlines available.
Functionality – Thermally, aluminium and uPVC are more efficient than wooden structures, but while uPVC seals will degrade, the thermally broken insulation of aluminium framing gives it the edge. From a security perspective, aluminium is also the winner, being practically impossible to break into (without smashing the glass, which modern glazing makes a challenge).
Durability – The strongest of the three materials, aluminium are the most durable and need the least maintenance when polyester powder coated; as all Apropos aluminium framing is. uPVC can warp and degrade becoming less thermally efficient as the seals perish. Wooden frames are prone to rot and insect damage if not thoroughly and regularly chemically treated.
Affordability – In the short term, uPVC is potentially the most affordable material for glazed extension construction; formed in bulk it requires little effort, craftsmanship or time. Being a less durable substance however, it can be a false economy. Wooden conservatory frames often require real craftsmanship and therefore cost more from the outset, and needing regular maintenance, can be expensive over time. In terms of initial outlay, bespoke aluminium structures will have the highest price point, but they will need next to no maintenance, will last the longest and offer incredible thermal efficiency.
Recyclability – A natural substance, wood is perhaps the most eco-friendly material to build with; it can be recycled, if cared for properly, but if not it will degrade quickly, leaving no carbon footprint. uPVC is a horror to recycle; while some parts can be reused, much of it cannot, and being non-biodegradable, it will most likely sit in landfill for centuries to come. Aluminium framing is 100% recyclable – much of it can be simply used again, otherwise it can be melted down to become something new; aeroplanes; power cables; cooking utensils; and coke cans.
For more information on Apropos’ thermally broken aluminium frames you can call us on 0161 342 8206 or request your free copy of our 2015 brochure here.
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