The style of your home and your own personal taste are significant factors in your choice of windows and doors. There are three main types of frame available – timber (‘hard’ or ‘soft’ woods), poly vinyl chloride (a chemical compound of chlorine, carbon and hydrogen) and metal (usually aluminium).
Aluminium is an abundant natural resource, non-brittle, non-corrosive, and an excellent conductor of heat and cold. Its malleability and corrosion-resistant properties, together with its stress-strain ratio, make aluminium an ideal medium for long-term use in buildings. Because it is a conductive metal, the construction of window and door frames needs to include a thermal break – a gap between the inside and outside sections of frame – just like the gap between two panes of glass in double glazing.
The strongest of the three basic types of frame materials is aluminium, which means that less frame is required (compared with wood or PVC) for a quality system, fit for purpose. This is particularly important for fully glazed folding or sliding patio doors where larger doors need strong and comparatively lightweight frames for easier maneuverability.
Typically, aluminium frames are thermally powder-coated with a tough, damage-resistant polymer than can be applied in a range of colours, a far stronger finish than can be achieved with paint or varnish.
Aluminium frames provide a sleek, contemporary look to a building. To create a light, practical, non-fussy feel to your home, aluminium frames are an excellent choice in natural white or graphite grey. To make a statement, frames can be ordered to complement a sunny blue sky, a verdant lawn, an azure sea, a golden sunset or high-tech metallic, to list but a few.
From the sleek, slim frames of aluminium to the bolder, chunkier frames of man-made PVC. Apart from budget considerations, PVC may be chosen for a modern look. It can be particularly effective on a pseudo-colonial or Disney-esque style of property, perhaps with PVC weather-boarding, popularly available in white or pale blue.
Cheap d-i-y PVC patio doors are a nightmare to live with in Britain’s fluctuating seasonal temperatures, sticking and twisting as brute force is necessarily applied during opening and closing in hot weather when you are most likely to want to open the patio doors. When considering the installation of PVC doors, particularly bifolds, it is essential to choose wisely.
For both “chunkiness” and versatility for the decorating enthusiast, timber frames offer an inexpensive medium for home-owners who enjoy property maintenance, varnishing or painting.
There’s no better medium than a wooden frame if you like to change your entire colour scheme every two or three years. To keep wood looking fresh, particularly with south-facing elevations, it needs nourishing and preserving regularly. This is a great opportunity for a make-over from white frames to green or black on painted wood.
However, to enhance the beauty of natural wood, particularly soft woods such as pine, annual maintenance is recommended so that damp doesn’t lead to black patches of mildew. All woods swell in the rain and shrink in the heat, some more than others, so French doors and bi-folding doors with wooden frames need to be researched carefully before installation. For example, budget d-i-y timber-framed doors can be difficult to open or close when swollen and may shrink to leave draughty gaps that you’ll live to regret every winter.
All three types of frame can offer full glass doors and windows for maximum light and vision. All can be found with Georgian, leaded light or bar style options. Both aluminium and PVC are easy to wipe clean.
Armed with this background information, the best way to make a decision is to find doors of each medium and use them but take care not to test the high quality models and expect the same results from budget models.
So… sleek aluminium or chunky PVC or wood, the choice is yours.