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?
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
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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The windows should be sat back in the reveal by 30mm so any increase in the window depth will mean that the internal plaster reveals and window boards will have to be cut back. This is very much the norm with replacement wooden windows now. The skill level of installers will have to (generally) improve to ensure that this is done correctly, cleanly and to customer satisfaction. How many installers just push the frames forward now and don’t leave this 30mm reveal? This can be the cause of damp issues going forward.
You do raise an interesting point. But if you bring into the equation raw material price rises, which no one likes, do you really want to add material to your product? I think the real question is how long before hybrid profiles come into play. Hybrid profiles can keep their 70mm depth but become more energy efficient and slimmer. We have already seen companies such as Masterframe introduce GRP into their windows and we all know what happened when we introduced GRP and Abs into the door market.
Time will tell of course :)