How to choose windows, from glass to frames

Building new window options or renovations is one of those decisions that can keep you up at night.

The economy of PVC, the prestige and performance of AluClad, or the beauty of the heritage of timber? Double or triple glazing? Whatever the frame material or where you place the opening sections, energy efficiency should be your primary concern above all else with Low-E glass, warm-edge technology and argon-filled units, but of course there’s more.

U and G (solar gain) values ​​are two of the details you should ask your supplier about right from the start. With the right glass, the right frame and – most importantly – the right installation, it is possible to achieve up to 70% U-values ​​better than standards compliant with the Recommended Building Regulations. With an increase in the thermal performance of the window, U (watts of heat loss per square meter expressed in W / sq. m) is the number that decreases. Top suspension, side suspension, pivoting or sliding – find out your U-values.

The dark gray here shaves and frames the view. Today, taupe or black is not, in almost every case, a color of fashion or much of a wobbly menace. AluClad from Carlson Windows, carlson.ie.

Expect U-values ​​for the entire window (frame and glass) 1.3W/m² 1.2W/m² to get good double glazing. In triple glazing, 0.8W/m²-0.4W/m² down to passive standards can be reached, through careful masonry, sealing and installation of windows without thermal bridge. U-values ​​for fixed glass should be lower (say 0.65 W/m² if say windows open is 0.8 W/m²).

With increased air tightness and three times the depth, you can stop the noise of the world moving beyond your limits. Glazing bars between panels, rather than actually dividing the window, will preserve your design dreams but reduce potential heat loss.

Something that has been rushed to a premeditated conclusion or hidden out of sight until the specs and schedules are refined, is the color – the exterior and interior. Even when you’ve finished designing and dusting off, frame color is an intriguingly strong architectural element of your window choice, whether you’re craving sashes, French frames, or slim, fragile contemporary frames.

The color of the time period does not have to be black and white.  An unexpected color in a wood or a soothing AluClad window with the right traditional materials gives character and charm.  Furniture from OKA.
The color of the time period does not have to be black and white. An unexpected color in a wood or a soothing AluClad window with the right traditional materials gives character and charm. Furniture from OKA.

Today, with wood and AluClad windows, you are very likely to encounter selections from the full range of the standard RAL color scheme for the trade. This can be overwhelming. RAL is a European color matching system that identifies the colors of paints, coatings and plastics. You choose the magic RAL number, it is put into your table and passed on to the manufacturer for installation, spray and/or brush application.

When you have the choice of a separate interior-exterior color, you have to double the work you have to do to choose from a limited selection of colors from your supplier or (a more satisfactory prospect) from a full RAL playing card. Indoors, if you have AluClad wood or lumber, you can stain the wood to leave the grain on display as well. Check out any price load on dual color options. PVC comes in dual colors in a palette limited by a slight premium, which gives you the option (once through three straight colors), like white on the inside and a new, more modern option on the outside.

Today, in new buildings, the area between nine RAL whites to white grey, going through a hymn sheet of 36 biomorphic RAL grays and industrially oriented grays to a selection of five RAL blacks, is most popular among architects and homeowners. There are about 200 standard RAL colors out there, and of course if you fancy a blue/green/yellow combination of windows and doors – there’s nothing stopping you, assuming the exterior wall color is calm enough to balance it all out. With a white or black interior, a more dramatic exterior is unlikely to frighten future viewers or interrupt interior décor changes.

If you think you are ready to choose any RAL color, just choose from the physical color card. Don’t trust the default color scheme for more than a hint. The nuances can be very surprising. You can buy a complete RAL fan set online for €17.50 if you have a large project and would like to do comparisons, choose other color ways and make a comparison for your home. There are many finish options on the other floors as well.

Window color is a statement, and it can make your window more or less present indoors and out, depending on the color of the surrounding wall and the side of the room. We’ve gone beyond the universal scorn for white plastic or the woody-effect color of toffee brown. White was popular with PVC in part because it was cheaper decades ago. Darker colors provide less UV stability and can eventually fade. Inside, white was unacceptable.

In PVC, an array of cream and sage are joined by white and wood grain, and modern gray neutrals are sometimes available in metallic finishes which shouldn’t bother future buyers if the windows are energy efficient and well detailed in every other way.

Today, taupe or black is not – in almost every case – a trendy color or a huge wavering risk. Architect Dermot Bannon regularly causes a tearful buzz from these glamorous clients at RTÉ’s Room To Improvement as he routinely jumps into the black AluClad windows and patio doors for his rustic designs. When you’re done, the final ending says it all.

In our suburbs and towns, dark gray frames set against white walls are a modern, crisp, classic look familiar in new developments and one-off constructions, and are already available in all window frame materials. Darker hues may be expected to visually emanate from incarnations and dull stone with their flat European look and minimalist aesthetic, but keep in mind that glass seen from the outside is generally read as a dark void anyway the frames recede and can disappear completely. Expect any architect to have an opinion, but ask them to explain it.

Singing with the natural colors of the countryside including shade of ocean, black and reddish black can be soothing and totally peaceful with narrow sight lines. White windows with darker exterior walls are more likely to sit against the darkness of rooms outside, separating them from glass, but they hide stains like bird droppings better than black ones. The window reveals that the outside (construction) can be painted as well – so explore what’s possible by searching for images online and save these predictions to a folder or mood board app on your computer or phone.

Inside, dark options are a whole different story as these windows looking at the contrast of sunlight will look even darker, and reduce the view if you have glass rails or glass openings. They can pick up other elements in the room, like the dark cupboards in your kitchen for example – often great. For smaller rooms, white windows, like white walls, scatter the light and amplify the space.

Of course, you should explore the style of the house and the color of existing exterior materials that can’t be altered like bricks or natural stone hues, but don’t jump into the idea that an old porch, cottage, or farmhouse can’t wear black wood windows. They could, and did so from the 18th century until the 1920s when black steel Crittal windows were common in factories and public buildings. Black is a traditional colour. However, white is a heritage colour. Don’t be straight with correct period colors for chronological style windows, and talk to your architect or designer about doing something unexpected like charcoal gray. Specimens should be seen in a variety of light and colors, see ralcolourchart.com.

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