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uPVC Discolouration

While double glazing your windows might be a great way to save on your energy bills, there is something to be said about having an aesthetically pleasing home as well. That is one of the main reasons that some homeowners are still hesitant to make the switch to uPVC double glazing.

However, it is important to note that most users who do not make the switch to uPVC double glazing because of discolouration concerns are actually basing their fears on a previous product that is no longer relevant to the market today.

Looking thorough uPVC window from the outside

Old style uPVC windows were prone to discolouration, not modern ones

While most believe that it is simply time and wear that causes uPVC window frames to discolour, this is not entirely true. While it is true that the first generation of the uPVC window frames suffered from discolouration, this has since been resolved, but the stigma somehow remains in place.

Everyone knows a mate who claims that they know a mate whose window frames turned completely yellow or a touch of brown. It does not help that unscrupulous salespeople are desperately trying to perpetuate this antiquated notion for their own personal benefit. To understand why some people believe that discolouration is inevitable even early on, it is important to look back at how the initial uPVC window frames were created.

The initial uPVC frames consisted of a blend of ingredients; these were made out of fibreglass, which gave a look similar to the traditional look that people were used to. While this might have been a great marketing idea, it did not turn out quite that well.

People quickly found out that the white colour did not hold and quickly turned into a different shade, often yellow or brown.

While it is true that these initial products had a problem with discolouration, that has since been resolved with the next generation of uPVC double glazing.

So, how long should a uPVC frame should last without discolouring? The truth is (depending on the climate the frames are going to be subjected to), due to recent technological advances you will see manufacturers confidently offering warranties against discolouration, warping or cracking, for anywhere between 10 to 20 years.

It is important to realize that a manufacturer would not take any risk having to pay countless claims if they did not fully believe that their product would last as long as advertised.  The market leader in the UK, Anglian, offers 10 year guarantees on their window frames – this should be enough to make even the most sceptical consumer a little more comfortable.

So that is all well and good for those that are in the market for new uPVC, but what about those with first generation uPVC or consumers that have noticed a level of discolouration? Is there any way to fix it once it has happened?

Firstly, some people believe that any form of cleaning agent found around the home is going to resolve the problem – not so. In fact, uPVC should only ever be cleaned with soap and water. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good.  There are (expensive) specific commercial cleaners, but unless you plan to pay for them on an on-going basis it is best to simply use soap and water.

But is there a way to stop any discolouration, or at least ensure that you do not worsen it yourself? The answer is rather straightforward and simple; you can in fact preserve your uPVC investment simply by taking good care of it. Ensuring that the surface is kept clean and taken care of properly is going to go a long way. It is important that you do not scratch the surface of the uPVC – so make sure that you do not use abrasive cleaning solutions or cloths whilst cleaning.

Man painting outside of window frame

You cannot paint uPVC double glazing window frames

What about a fresh coat of paint? Unfortunately, even companies designed to sell us paint such as Dulux have to admit that uPVC Windows cannot be painted, even if they become discoloured or damaged with age.

If you do notice that there is a degree of discolouration, one of the most important things that you can do is refer to your rights and guarantees. It is not uncommon to see manufactures or installers provide consumers with lengthy warranties as mentioned previously. If your product is still under warranty it is important that you let the company know as soon as possible. After all, it is important that you are fully satisfied with the product that the company has installed in your home.

But what if you are not happy or do not believe that the company you purchased from is taking you seriously? As a consumer you have three different places that you can direct your complaint or problem to.

The first is the Glass & Glazing Federation, the trade body for double glazing contractors. With its code of conduct that members must adhere to, it is always a good idea to shop from companies that have the Glass & Glazing Federation certificate just in case a problem should ever arise.

Secondly, consumers can turn to the Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme (FENSA). FENSA member contractors can self-assess the performance of the windows, and therefore issue a certificate to the homeowner; this is not only cheaper but also means that installation performed by a FENSA contractor gives the consumer a 5-10 year guarantee on the installation.

With regular inspections of the contractors, FENSA ensures that the self-assessment situation is not being abused. FENSA is recognized as one of the best organisations of its type and it should come as no surprise that the certification is highly sought after.

Thirdly, while relatively new, the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS) works from outside the industry itself. If you have a dispute with an installer, you can use the ombudsman. It is another way to have some protection for your investment if you feel you are not being treated as you should be.

Hopefully this article has cleared up some of the myths surrounding the uPVC double glazing discolouration process. It might have been a problem originally, but now with warranties of up to 20 years giving protection against that very problem, it is hard not to be sceptical of those who believe that it is still a flaw with uPVC double glazing.

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