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Building Products January 2018

DOORS, WINDOWS AND ACCESSORIES BEST OF BOTH WORLDS As aluminium continues to grow in popularity in the residential window and door sector, Phil Parry, head of research and development at Synseal Group, looks at the niche market for warm aluminium, combining the thermal performance of PVC-U with the desirability of aluminium aesthetics. JANUARY 2018 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 29 The surge in popularity for aluminium products being specified for both commercial and residential applications last year will have gone unnoticed by very few in the construction industry. We all know that aluminium is set for a 17-year high by 2020, and in the window and door sector, it was the dominant building material at industry shows in 2017. Once the first choice product in the 1970s and 80s, aluminium has really seen a resurgence in the residential market over the past five years or so, as bi-folding doors have become more popular, and many are now opting for aluminium windows to match. But while the demand for aluminium aesthetics increases, the availability of thermally efficient aluminium systems remains limited and expensive, with many aluminium profiles unable to compete with the thermal performance of PVCU products. This is where ‘warm aluminium’ comes into play – a desire to combine aluminium aesthetics with the U-values consumers expect from PVC-U products. most highly specified aluminium products Warm aluminium is a hybrid product boasting available advertised U-values between 1.76 and the benefits of a PVC-U core and the hardwearing 1.94 W/m²K when using standard double glazing – exterior of aluminium. There are a few products meaning that many systems weren’t even meeting available on the market which utilise a composite Part L requirements for replacement doors which profile like this, although the approach varies from specify 1.8 W/m²K. product to product. Some manufacture PVC-U Since then, aluminium products have become a profile as standard and apply an aluminium popular choice in residential replacement cladding onto finished windows or doors. This applications – especially bi-folding doors which in creates the visual appearance of aluminium but the themselves have become a must-have product with product is, in my opinion, very much a PVC-U one. discerning homeowners. Anecdotally, installers tell Other suppliers adopt a more integrated us that aluminium bi-fold doors operate better approach, where the aluminium and PVC-U than PVC-U alternatives, so when combined with materials are combined during the manufacturing slimmer sightlines and typically longer-lasting process. This gives the product more rigidity and performance, it’s understandable that the makes it more inherently an aluminium product, aluminium bi-fold market has boomed in the last rather than an overclad plastic option. couple of years. So what are the benefits of using a hybrid However, as aluminium becomes more aluminium/PVC-U product? Quite simply, it’s prevalent in retrofit applications, consumer about offering consumers aluminium aesthetics demand for thermally efficient aluminium has with the thermal capabilities of PVC-U products. Only a few years ago, back in 2014, many of the Continued on page 30 >>>


Building Products January 2018
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