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1026 posts

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  # 2312007 6-Sep-2019 22:27
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Elaborating on a couple of things: timber windows don't perform in the sense durability requires ongoing maintenance. They can be composited with a veneer of aluminium on the outside to remove the maintenance factor. The aluminium strip can be powdercoated to have a wood colour. It shouldn't be confused with aluminium joinery with a cosmetic veneer of wood on the inside.

 

By typical winter situation I mean where most New Zealand houses are located (disproportionately in the warmer areas). If you're in a colder area or have an above code insulated house there's going to be more benefit to thermally broken, timber or PVC over solid aluminium.

 

 

Do you have a reference for that claim? This page shows uPVC as being more efficient than aluminium whether or not it's thermally broken, although there's not a heck of a lot in it - they're all fairly poor insulators.

 

The standardised numbers on that page have little relationship with the real world. Likely they date from the mid 2000s from older products including terrible cheap hardcoat low e glass with a heavy dose of worst-case pessimism on top. Both frame types and mainstream low e perform better than that.

 

PVC is popular in certain countries because it is cheaper to manufacture there. When aluminium has under 10% market share in a large country versus 80% for PVC the price gap is further exaggerated by economics of scale and greater automation. Often the same companies manufacture both with architectural/commercial clients who buy aluminium being less price sensitive and uninterested in PVC. There is less incentive to cheapen or market aluminium and the public is often unaware it's an option. Not many people are aware of how much longer the lifespan of aluminium joinery is and may not think that far ahead. Passivehaus certified triple-glazed aluminium windows are available in Europe so it's not like it can't thermally make the grade with enough engineering.

 

In New Zealand houses are more likely to be run into the ground and demolished than maintained. In Europe they're kept going and centrally heated. So windows companies deal direct with the public and take on a role similar to passive ventilation companies do here with marketing and dedicated salespeople. People call them "double glazing companies" which tells a story. PVC is pushed because they could quote to price-sensitive clients for £10,000 instead of £14,000 for aluminium which also has longer lead times from lower automation and volume. There has been a culture of marketing and push-the-envelope claims surrounding PVC.

 

 

We are planning to retro-fit double glazing in our place in the near future, I am dreading the quotes as most of our windows are floor to what would be the ceiling if we had a ceiling.

 

Be careful about the air gap width in retrofit glazing units (retrofitting double glazing is not the same as full joinery replacement). A good low e glass like XCel makes retrofitting double glazing more worthwhile and it doesn't perform well with a 6mm air gap compared with 10mm+. Most old sliding and hinge doors don't cope well with the weight of double glazing. You can reglaze to low e R0.27 single glazing (versus R0.31 for 6mm air gap plain double glazing) if you really don't want to replace a door. Low e single glazing should be cleaned carefully as it's more easily scratched than uncoated glass.

 

 

PVC frames typically costs more than standard aluminium, but less than thermally broken aluminium. The raw material cost is only one factor in making a finished product.

 

Thermal breaking can add as little as 3.5% to manufacturing costs to an aluminium window. In New Zealand the price gap is often larger because except for APL they are only thermally breaking medium width profiles. So the price gap is mostly not because of the thermal break costs but because we're comparing a medium width premium profile with a thermal break against a mass market narrow width solid aluminium profile.

 

PVC frames vary in quality grade too. Most sold in New Zealand are German branded budget profiles manufactured in China while others import direct from the western hemisphere. Some companies place huge margins, others thin margins. Overseas joinery manufacturers can have many different quality grades so check the OEM's website if you're interested in imported joinery.

 

 

uPVC windows usually use more sophisticated hardware, which doesn't seem to be offered on aluminium frames.

 

I am thinking of the 'tilt and turn' system, which is really very good.

 

Placing blinds behind tilt and turn joinery can be problematic. It is possible to integrate blinds into glazing or on its surface.

 

Multipoint window locking is supported by Nulook and Fairview/Elite thermally broken profiles. New Zealand aluminium profiles normally support multipoint door locks. European aluminium and timber windows supports the same hardware as European PVC including tilt and turning. There are 2 or 3 importers of European aluminium and wood-alu joinery in New Zealand. I do think they should support tilt and turn/side joinery with New Zealand aluminium. One minor Australian manufacturer does so there is no good reason why they couldn't. They are losing more and more business because they talk to builders instead of the public.

 

Concrete doesn't have a good reputation as an insulator though the plaster may be helping. An architect selected Pacific Architectual? That's amusing but unsurprising.

 

 

That would be an issue here. Summer sun is harsh and there is no easy way to shade the windows due to placement of the building on the site without significant architectural enhancement.

 

Metroglass "Xtreme" is similar to Xcel but lets in 1/3rd less heat. Not ideal in winter but if the bigger problem is summer it may be useful on affected windows. Viridian's Performatech 206 is more effective at solar heat rejection but as it negates so much winter heat gain it may be too effective.

 

 

@bfginger do you agree with @Disrespective that thermally broken joinery is essentially pointless if the windows is installed outside if the thermal line of the wall?

 

It is more effective if it's installed recessed but it does still help over solid aluminium when installed the standard way. Unless it's a fixed window a percentage of the aluminium frame isn't near the frame perimeter. The inner frame around the perimeter does have more exposure to the cold than if it was recessed but it will be warmer than if the entire outside frame area was connected. This youtube video shows the deficiency of installing this way but you can see the benefit too versus the break being absent.

 

 

We are in the process of planning our build, and I assume our windows will be installed in the "standard NZ way" which sounds like is generally outside the thermal line of the wall.

 

It shouldn't be a great expense to install recessed, the issue is builders won't have heard of it. Altus does supply instructions for Pacific Thermal and AllSeasons to be installed this way and other brands can be too if someone knows what they're doing.

 

 

EDIT: Would thermally broken also be pointless if you went with something like Low E Plus that doesn't use a thermal spacer?

 

Probably. Glass is a poor insulator and an aluminum spacer means a thermal bridge is being created between the inner and outter frame which is what the thermal break is there to prevent. Their XCel is a better product with a 50% higher R value and 1/7th more visible light admitted than Plus. You can get plain glass with a thermal spacer too.

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  # 2312136 7-Sep-2019 10:32
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bfginger: It shouldn't be a great expense to install recessed, the issue is builders won't have heard of it. Altus does supply instructions for Pacific Thermal and AllSeasons to be installed this way and other brands can be too if someone knows what they're doing.


That's my main concern. We have been quoted for Fairview Thermal Linear TL40. Looking at them they appear to be designed for non-recessed installation, in fact the spec actually says "Traditional New Zealand installation method using timber reveals". But even if they can be recessed I'm note sure I'd want to be the first time the builder has done it.


bfginger: Glass is a poor insulator and an aluminum spacer means a thermal bridge is being created between the inner and outter frame which is what the thermal break is there to prevent. Their XCel is a better product with a 50% higher R value and 1/7th more visible light admitted than Plus. You can get plain glass with a thermal spacer too.


That's what I suspected re not having a thermal spacer, but good to get confirmation from someone who is clearly knowledgeable about it (but isn't trying to sell me something).


 


On a related topic, what are peoples thoughts on laminated glass? We can get any toughened swapped out to laminated for free, but to upgrade the non-toughened windows would be $1800 to have it through the entire house. My understanding is the benefits are security, noise reduction, and better UV blocking (so reduced fading of furniture etc). Worth it for $1800?


 
 
 
 


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  # 2312407 7-Sep-2019 16:50
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What is the standard size spacer used by the likes of metro glass in their low e range, and is there generally any additional cost to have a wider spacer if your joinery can accommodate it? I.e. if standard is 4-12-4, would it cost more to go 4-16-4?




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  # 2312542 7-Sep-2019 21:20
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It would help if the glazing companies actually fitted their own products.

 

My neighbour lives and works in Auckland in the property development area and he has been building a holiday home next door on the land we sold.

 

I was chatting to him today and his build is now 3 months late and he is exasperated with the contractors down here when compared to the ones he has on sites in Auckland. In particular, we discussed windows and he said in Auckland he gets the window companies to do the fitting but here none of the companies would do it. He even sacked one Masterton window company before they had begun because he realised that they just "weren't going to cope"! He commented "The tradesmen down here just don't like being under pressure, do they?"

 

I smiled knowingly and said "Just wait until you're 10 seconds late in paying them and see what happens! They move pretty quick when the shoe is on the other foot."






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  # 2314651 11-Sep-2019 07:01
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But even if they can be recessed I'm note sure I'd want to be the first time the builder has done it.

 

European joinery is installed differently compared with Australasian joinery so there are disaster stories of whole houselots being misinstalled, damaged and requiring total reinstallation after New Zealand builders jumped into installing without knowing what to do. I guess someone could ask Fairview's Technical Support to provide instructions like Altus has. Come to think of it I wouldn't assume companies would honour a warranty for a non standard installation when they haven't provided instructions.

 

On a related topic, what are peoples thoughts on laminated glass? We can get any toughened swapped out to laminated for free, but to upgrade the non-toughened windows would be $1800 to have it through the entire house. My understanding is the benefits are security, noise reduction, and better UV blocking (so reduced fading of furniture etc). Worth it for $1800?

 

Sounds good. Often when double glazing glass is "laminated" only one of the two panes is laminated (usually the inside pane). Doors must have both panes as safety glass meaning laminated or toughened. When one pane is laminated and one pane is non safety (normal) glass the normal glass is preferable to go on the outside for security reasons.

 

The Fairview quotes should have something cryptic like "tgh_lam" or "ann_lam" (annealed = normal glass) to tell you what the outer and inner pains are. Usually with glazing it's sequenced outside to inside.

 

Toughened glass is "toughened" against human impact and thermal shock. It is less secure than normal glass. People think it is a security product but it isn't except when the toughened glass is also laminated (expensive).

 

Laminating glass does benefit noise reduction because dividing a hard substance reduces the transmission of medium frequency sound waves. The same holds true for aluminium frames with a thermal break. There are acoustic laminate interlayers (softer and often thicker than other interlayers) but they're less beneficial over standard safety laminates in double glazing than in single glazing so as it costs more you'd use it in more desperate situations where every bit helps.

 

Low frequency sounds, which are the biggest problem in the New Zealand context, need mass to stop them, and a laminate glass isn't much better than normal glass pane of the same thickness at stopping those. What stops them is mass so a 12mm pane in addition to a laminate is much more effective.

 

Standard impact safety laminate interlayers are 0.38mm in between two 3mm glass creating a 6.38mm pane. It is harder to break but describing it as more secure than plain glass is an oversimplication. The weakest links are the window handles or a door lock without a deadlock. So breaking a small hole in a laminate to manipulate those may be not much more trouble than breaking a whole pane of normal glass with its noise and cutting potential. Keylocks on doors and sashes can make breaking glass to enter less feasible when a human size hole is required versus a hand sized hole.

 

Standard handles are weak such as the typical held in by 2 small aluminium screw handles which while having been redesigned to cosmetically look substantial are little stronger than what was used in the 80s. I don't see how one of those can provide enough resistance against being forced. Multipoint locking hardware (where the handle isn't the latch) is supported by Nulook and Fairview profiles and probably could be installed in others. Other than that, two 4 screw avon handles and a keylock would increase the screw count to 10 versus 2 for a single mainstream handle.

 

There are many options for laminates. There are harder, more expensive and usually thicker interlayers meant for security applications. Thicker and toughened glass layers can be specified which while expensive can be made harder to break than a wall.

 

There are some negatives to using laminate other than the price. The effect of thicker glass means reduced clarity as glass has a slight green tint which comes from its iron contents and the effect grows with the thickness of the glass. Low iron glass can be specified to greatly reduce that but it costs more.

 

 

What is the standard size spacer used by the likes of metro glass in their low e range, and is there generally any additional cost to have a wider spacer if your joinery can accommodate it? I.e. if standard is 4-12-4, would it cost more to go 4-16-4?

 

Glass companies provide different options. The Performatech webpage's Specifying section says "Spacer widths include 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 16mm; this is the air gap width."

 

Especially when a product contains argon I'd assume a wider spacer would cost more. A 16mm gap is the most ideal in New Zealand but the thermal penalty for going down to 14mm is negligible. You may find the poor quotation software inflicted on aluminium licensees can't list air gaps so who knows what they normally do.

 

In Europe joinery quotes may tell you exactly what the inner and outer pains are, the spacer width and type, gas type, which surface number low e coatings are on etc. In New Zealand such details are seldom thought about or thought important. I wouldn't assume smaller non-aluminium operators using off the shelf European quotation software to be accurate with what it lists.

 

The width of the glazing unit joinery can take is limited and it varies depending on the profile and the circumstance. If I remember right the Fairview Product Reference Guide says Fairview Thermal is limited to 26mm glazing units when pocket glazed or 30mm when bead glazed except for sliding panels which are 28mm pocket glazed. It depends on the profile design but wider beaded glazing means sashes may not be as flush and easier to crowbar. I'd guess fabricators would prioritise pocket glazing sashes over a wider air gap.

 

 

Geektastic: I was going to say many people in the industry are ignorant about glass to the point of negligence. But windows companies that don't know how to glaze a window takes it to a level I hadn't imagined.

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  # 2314660 11-Sep-2019 07:33
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Regarding sound insulation, I found double glazed windows a significant step back from our old windows.

 

Our old windows were inch thick wood frames, and we had a layer of glass and a retrofitted layer of 3mm thick plastic. That was quite effective but also a bit ugly.

 

When we moved to double glazed PVC the outside noise got quite a bit louder. The double glazed panes sit on plastic top of spacers in the frames, so the only thing keeping noise out is the thin layers of PVC. At least this is how ThermalFrame does it.


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  # 2314897 11-Sep-2019 11:03
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bfginger: Sounds good. Often when double glazing glass is "laminated" only one of the two panes is laminated (usually the inside pane). Doors must have both panes as safety glass meaning laminated or toughened. When one pane is laminated and one pane is non safety (normal) glass the normal glass is preferable to go on the outside for security reasons.

 

The Fairview quotes should have something cryptic like "tgh_lam" or "ann_lam" (annealed = normal glass) to tell you what the outer and inner pains are. Usually with glazing it's sequenced outside to inside.

 

Thanks for another thorough explanation.

 

In regards to the above, the "base" quote has doors as Clear_Clear - DG (Tgh_Lam). I assume this means toughened on the outside, and annealed laminate on the inside.

 

Other windows are just listed as Clear_Clear - DG. If I upgraded these to laminated would I expect it to read Clear_Clear - DG (Ann_Lam)?

 

Some windows also have an S on the diagram, but the spec still just says Clear_Clear - DG. What does the S mean, if it's safety I would have expected the glass to be listed as toughened or laminate?

 

 


 
 
 
 




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  # 2315375 12-Sep-2019 07:56
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My feeling is that out here away from the competition of Auckland, companies are lazy.
They're aware you have little choice (the two major double glazing suppliers in Masterton are actually franchises owned by the same parent company so arguably they'll get your money either way) and that there's consequently little need to bother with an excess of competence or service delivery.





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  # 2315455 12-Sep-2019 09:49
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timmmay:

Regarding sound insulation, I found double glazed windows a significant step back from our old windows.

 

Our old windows were inch thick wood frames, and we had a layer of glass and a retrofitted layer of 3mm thick plastic. That was quite effective but also a bit ugly.

 

When we moved to double glazed PVC the outside noise got quite a bit louder. The double glazed panes sit on plastic top of spacers in the frames, so the only thing keeping noise out is the thin layers of PVC. At least this is how ThermalFrame does it.

 

 

Soundproofwindows.com quotes Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories comparing aluminium versus PVC windows for noise reduction and has some interesting opinions. If deep base can pass through two layers of 1cm plasterboard with ease I don't think a few lunchbox lids is going to do much better. Between the seal, frame and glass the sound is going to pass the most through the weakest point if there is one.

 

 

An interesting point about wooden frames made by thesoundproofwindows.co.uk is sound reduction varies depending on the type of wood, direction of the grain and whether the frame is single or multilayered.

 

 

Paul1977:

bfginger: Sounds good. Often when double glazing glass is "laminated" only one of the two panes is laminated (usually the inside pane). Doors must have both panes as safety glass meaning laminated or toughened. When one pane is laminated and one pane is non safety (normal) glass the normal glass is preferable to go on the outside for security reasons.

 

The Fairview quotes should have something cryptic like "tgh_lam" or "ann_lam" (annealed = normal glass) to tell you what the outer and inner pains are. Usually with glazing it's sequenced outside to inside.

 

Thanks for another thorough explanation.

 

In regards to the above, the "base" quote has doors as Clear_Clear - DG (Tgh_Lam). I assume this means toughened on the outside, and annealed laminate on the inside.

 

Other windows are just listed as Clear_Clear - DG. If I upgraded these to laminated would I expect it to read Clear_Clear - DG (Ann_Lam)?

 

Some windows also have an S on the diagram, but the spec still just says Clear_Clear - DG. What does the S mean, if it's safety I would have expected the glass to be listed as toughened or laminate?

 

 

 

 

Probably. The S I don't know as safety glass means toughened or laminate. Possibly super thick annealed could be called safety glass but that won't be it. The Clear may be saying the pane is not tinted. If you're getting low e it should say. Joinery companies are used to minimum spec and most quotes are prepared by secretaries so between that and communications interlocuted by the building company many mistakes can be made if you're specifying something beyond the colour. People may ask for thermally broken and they quote for solid, ask for a laminate window and they quote the whole house laminated, random windows quoted without low e, white windows and black handles, etc. I don't know what the thinking process was to inflict "Clear_Clear tgh_lam" on the general public but it's clear as glass compared with the Voynich level glass descriptions I've seen elsewhere. If the quote doesn't make sense or provides too little information they should be able to manually write it in.

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  # 2316580 12-Sep-2019 16:27
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bfginger: The S I don't know as safety glass means toughened or laminate. Possibly super thick annealed could be called safety glass but that won't be it.

 

I got an answer back, the S means "site glazed".


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