The very latest results from Palmer Research, written by Robert Palmer who has been measuring the demand for windows of all materials for many years, confirms wood is taking back market share from UPVC and is set to grow still further. Palmer says wood now has 21% by value at some £440m of the total market in 2014 and he expects that to grow to 25% by 2019.
It is not surprising really as research carried out by BDRC amongst 147 estate agencies some time ago found how important fenestration is to the look
and feel of a house and if not in keeping with the era that the house was built or complimentary to the architectural style of the house, potential
purchasers are soon put off and what’s more the value is downgraded. It was said that unsympathetic windows and doors, particularly UPVC, were
the biggest threat to the sale of houses in conservation areas.
Furthermore results prove that installing UPVC windows in period properties seriously devalues the property and restricts the marketing opportunities; it is the very worst thing people can do when trying to maintain and improve their property.
Social media now plays a big part not just in our lives and it has become a vital marketing tool. Facebook, Twitter and Google are quick to capitalise on the use of their sites for businesses to advertise on. It is also a place where feedback from consumers gathers pace and none more than the Mumsnet site for busy young mothers who discuss a whole range of issues and not just growing a family.
A relevant quote from a Mumsnet user says:
“Wood is so much nicer; I’ve turned down several otherwise lovely houses just because they had horrid plastic windows.”
Of course today’s modern person has different buying motives and can source enormous information at the touch of a screen to learn about the attributes
of products and their availability.
Windows don’t just have to look nice they also must meet the green credentials that today’s well informed consumer desires. So keeping the house well insulated from the cold air, wind and rain and also being noise resistance are key features that are essential.
Wood is also very sustainable and all modern wood windows are made from engineered components leaving the waste back in the forest to be recycled. Today’s modern paint systems provide a factory finish that can be held up to equal the performance of the vinyl on a plastic window and provided the installation and maintenance instructions are adhered to then you can expect your wood windows to last for more than 60 years, more than a lifetime.
Wood windows are now factory finished and all come double glazed as standard; triple glazing is available as well.
All these products now carry energy rating labels showing their rating value just like the fridge and other white goods in the kitchen, from A + the highest rating to D the lowest. And all factory finished products must now be CE marked under European Law to show that they comply with all the very latest performance certification and building regulations.
Wood as a raw material really fits the bill and ticks all the boxes, after all it is the world’s only natural material that will never run out.
Well-founded research has also proven that the life cycle and expectancy from wood far outpaces the plastic alternative in that wood will last for at least 60 years whereas plastic has to be replaced every 35 years and that over its lifetime means that wood will have a negative carbon effect. Wood is a natural carbon sink and as long as the window remains in place over the 60 years tested then there is less carbon consumed to the extent that this has been measured at minus 13 tonnes which is the equivalent to running an average family car for 5000 miles. The recent work carried out by Heriot Watt University using Life Cycle analysis has been published and supports the life expectancy figures.
More importantly most house owners are investing in what is probably their largest asset over the life time and as such are justly proud; touching the surface of their wood windows produces a warm effect as opposed to the coldness of plastic, aluminium and steel. Wood is a natural insulating material whereas other materials need thermal bridges adding to meet the regulations for heat loss.
Currently there is a lot of debate surrounding our membership of the European Union and the forthcoming referendum where we will have to make a decision to stay in or leave. One thing for sure is that the joinery industry in the UK and in particular all the members of the British Woodworking Federation Timber Window Accreditation Scheme have lead the way to make timber windows a product for the future and it’s not surprising that our European colleagues, especially in the old east European (comi-com) have made a beeline to copy these designs and attack our growing market. We have seen imports from these countries increase from £60m to almost £200m since 2006. Our current product development programmes where we are consistently bringing out new products and innovations should keep us ahead but if we were out of the EU we would not have the same incentive.
Through the promotional vehicle for our industry the Wood Window Alliance (WWA), we are communicating and educating all consumers as to the benefits
of purchasing wood for their house fenestration and in doing so not costing the earth!
So wood for windows and doors grows naturally, feels natural, looks natural and has become the consumer’s natural choice and favourite.