Frame – Architectural Aluminium, Timber or uPVC?
Advantages of Architectural Aluminium Conservatories
Modern architectural aluminium conservatories have virtually nothing in common with cheap Aluminium greenhouse structures of the 1970’s. Extensive design improvements, such as the introduction of thermal barriers and the computerisation of manufacturing, have meant that it is now possible to purchase outstandingly high quality designs, which are many times stronger and sturdy enough to accept a glass (rather than polycarbonate) roof, at prices which are very competitive.
Architectural aluminium systems are now extensively used on mainland Europe and for most commercial glazing.
Architectural aluminium allows slim, strong, rigid frames, it will not warp, twist or rust and does not need reinforcing. The architectural aluminium alloy used for glazing systems has a strength approaching that of mild steel. The amount of expansion and contraction in architectural aluminium is very low, giving greater structural stability.
Aluminium has a melting point of 660°C – an important security feature, as it cannot be melted with a blow torch by someone attempting to break in.
Architectural aluminium is maintenance free. It does not attract dirt electrostatically, and it does not need annual maintenance. Architectural aluminium buildings are finished with a polyester powder coating to BS6496, which is scratch and chip resistant, offering 750 RAL colours in either a matt, satin or gloss finish.
Architectural aluminium can incorporate any type of glazing, and in particular glass sealed units 24mm thick.
Advantages of Timber Conservatories
Timber Hardwood Conservatories supplied by David Fennings are rapidly becoming recognised as having achieved an unequalled standard of individual quality.
Our designs are manufactured using high precision computer-controlled machinery operated by skilled craftsmen. Selected hardwoods are chosen for their strength and durability before being moulded into the unique profiles requested by many of our customers to provide their individual requirements or harmonize with existing windows.
Most of the timber conservatories we supply are bespoke. There are, however, some standard sizes for simpler designs and to accommodate smaller budgets.
The timber is given a high penetration base coating, before finishing with coats of micro porous stain. This treatment protects against flaking or peeling. Ultraviolet fading is minimised and further maintenance is usually limited to a single coat application after a 3-4 year period. However you should always immediately treat any small areas where there appears to be weathering.
Timber is an environmentally-friendly, renewable building material. All our timber comes from managed plantations which will be replanted. Growing trees absorb CO2 (the greenhouse gas) from the air. Processing timber uses only 10% of the energy required to process synthetic alternatives.
Modern uPVC Conservatories
Many uPVC conservatories are made of uPVC windows bolted together, with a ‘basic kit’ conservatory roof. The systems we offer, however, are substantially constructed with the complete conservatory qualifying for appropriate structural calculations, wind and snow loadings.
A Word of Caution
Because uPVC windows can be produced cheaply and easily, anyone can set up in business as a uPVC conservatory manufacturer. It does not take a great deal of engineering knowledge, technical ability or manufacturing skill to produce a uPVC conservatory, and the machines required can be purchased for just a few thousand pounds. This has led to hundreds of small companies starting up, and often going bust within a few years – sometimes starting up again under a different name. The buyer should be aware that their supplier is a reputable firm and check their trading history – PLEASE REFER TO OUR 10 GOLDEN RULES.
uPVC windows were originally intended for fitting into openings, and not constructing buildings. Because of this, uPVC designs usually have steel within, which in many cases does not provide true reinforcing to support conservatory roofs or brickwork above bay windows.
Because uPVC conservatories can be much weaker than architectural aluminium conservatories, they may be unable to support the weight of a glass roof, forcing you to choose polycarbonate. Although this material is used extensively, it has many disadvantages – see Designing Your Conservatory: Roof – Glass or Polycarbonate? for more information.
Poor quality uPVC windows can degrade rapidly, losing their white or brown colour relatively quickly. The rubber gaskets may shrink and let in water; the double glazing can lose its seal and steam up often, all well under the expected life span of ten years. Our systems have stainless steel screws and fixings rather than basic steel which, albeit treated, can rust even in the early years.