Responses from Frank Buckley, managing director, Mumford & Wood Ltd
1. What is the state of current demand for timber windows and doors? Is demand growing? Can you identify any demand trends eg are bi-fold doors becoming more popular; is there growing demand for alu-clad products?
The demand for timber windows is growing as is the demand for alu-clad, especially in the commercial sector. Putting figures on this is difficult presently but the updated Palmer report is due out later in the summer which I would expect to confirm this. Aluminium is also making a comeback, again driven by a return in the commercial market which has been particularly dormant for a while.
2. Is demand coming mainly from the refurbishment or new build market?
Both markets are growing; the recent uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the general election and the possibility of some form of mansion tax has abated and activity, especially in the development and refurbishment of larger properties in the south east, is now picking up. New build is also starting to increase but this will take a little longer to work through.
3. What factors drive customers’ choice of timber windows and doors? Is maintenance still a concern for consumers?
Aesthetics is still the significant driver. Maintenance is still on the agenda but the advances in timber and paint technologies are effectively addressing this concern. A recent article on Prime Location mentioning the positive impact of high quality modern timber windows, as against uPVC, is changing people’s perception of the timber product. The research by Heriott Watt University 2013 confirming the enhanced credential of timber over uPVC is also helping to reassure property owners that there is more substance to the claim.
In this study commissioned by the Wood Window Alliance carried out by the Institute for Building & Urban Design, the results of studies on Service Life Planning (SLP) Whole Life Cost (WLC) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) identified that timber windows made to their standards, as Mumford & Wood’s products are, have a life expectancy of between 56-65 years, more than twice that of uPVC. The study also identified the significant carbon savings that are made when a timber frame window is used in comparison with a u-PVC frame which is roughly 1.5 tonnes CO2 per average home over its lifetime – the equivalent of driving more than 5,000 miles in a small family car.
4. Have you launched any new product ranges or designs?
Our products are always being developed and modified, all the while achieving better performance and better aesthetics. Upcoming is our range of PAS 24 certified products which will give the reassurance of enhanced security without sacrificing the clean aesthetics of the original products. Our Conservation bi-folding doors have recently achieved Secured by Design accreditation and we are delighted that almost all of our products are now SBD.
5. Is greater energy efficiency still driving product development or are your windows as energy efficient as is currently possible?
Energy efficiency is always a concern and trying to match the aesthetic requirements with the performance requirements continues to be reviewed. Advance in glass technologies is constantly improving the thermal performance of the glass which has the biggest effect on the overall thermal efficiency of the products. Developments in sealing technologies are also being incorporated into our products.
Our products are BRE A+ rated with U-values that exceed the requirements of current Part L Building Regulations’. They carry the BSI Kitemark and are Energy Saving Trust listed.
6. Do you use modified timber, such as Accoya?
7. What future R&D developments do you predict for timber windows and doors?
At this point I don’t foresee any big changes, but the constant evolution of the product will continue as new materials and technologies enter the market.