The 70mm profile most commonly used in the PVCu domestic world has been the standard for a long time now. For those of us who have spent their years selling it, 70mm profile depths have been the norm. It’s been the reliable dimension that has made it easy to retro-fit to all kinds of houses and fit into new ones.

However, that pattern has shifted in recent years, and continues to do so at an ever increasing rate. As all parts of UK fenestration, not just PVCu, have sought to evolve and diversify, this has also included the depth of window and door profiles. Some have become thinner, some have grown wider.

The question is, how will this begin to affect us and those around us? Will it start to impede on the retro-fit market? Will house builders who have to build to certain strict specifications have to change how they do things?

All sizes

There are plenty of examples out there of PVCu systems ditching the 70mm model. Evolution for example uses a 82mm deep system. Residence 9 uses a 100mm deep system. Kommerling has a 70mm, 76mm and 88mm system.

Even in the residential aluminium market things are changing. AluK have a new range of residential aluminium windows and doors out called Optio which measures at 58mm or 70mm deep.

Generally though, profile depths are edging a little bit wider each time. Why? The major reason is that the wider depth allows for more expansive and creative profile designs which gives manufacturers a chance to improve thermal performance and strength. It also allows for extra aesthetic tweaks to be worked into the product. Take the thicker nature of the internal side of timber alternative windows. Not only do they look more like timber, but they have allowed decorative peg stays to be used as a bolt-on extra for installers and has given the hardware sector a little boost as well.

A few extra millimetres here and there usually isn’t a problem. Kommerling’s 76mm system really shouldn’t present many installers a problem when it comes to retro-fitting. But, any more than that and then it can start to get a little bit tricky in places. On my trips out to home owners who have been interested in the thicker timber alternative PVCu, it is sometimes dictated by what space we have left on the external brick work. If the existing 70mm system that is already there only allows for a thin external seal already, an extra 12mm on top of the existing could make it extremely difficult to fit those new frames, make it look nice, and get any sort of seal on it. Plan B is to start knocking internal plaster off but that is a very destructive and messy option which doesn’t always go down well with the home owner.

Usually though retro-fit isn’t an issue with the wider profiles. But, as our industry becomes more and more diverse and 70mm profiles blend into a wider

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Part of a wider picture

I think as we continue to move forward in this wider evolutionary phase in our industry, the future of the 70mm profile blends into a much more diversified picture. We are going to see more profiles introduced over time, but I think design, thermal and strength demands will mean 70mm profiles won’t cut it. We’ll see more in the 80mm range going forward.

What that means is that installers are going to have be sharp when it comes to selling them in the retro-fit market. Not every house will be prepped and ready to go for the wider profiles. That will mean either extra work to make them fit, or to only sell certain types of profiles into homes that will allow for it.

In the new-build market things are slightly easier. Whether it’s a traditional or contemporary look that the home owner or builder wants, all internal decoration can be done up to the fitted product. Installers don’t have to worry so much about plaster lines or damaging any existing decoration. The windows and doors can go in, and then the plasterers can plaster what is left of the reveals inside.

On the budget end of the market, the 70mm profile will remain as is. I don’t see things changing there all too much. But for the timber-look market, the higher end part of our sector, things are going to become a lot more diversified. There will be a menu of profile depths to choose from, with each product offering it’s own unique aspects. It will be vital that fabricators provide all the information installers need clearly and quickly so that they can focus on the task of selling and installing to a high quality too.

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