When materials technology meets classic characteristics
Popular television programmes such as Escape to the Country entice many city dwellers into surrendering their high-rise apartments in favour of a cosy, country cottage. Wooden windows and doors are distinguishing features of a traditional home, but their maintenance makes anything but easy living. Here, Nick Cowley, managing director at composite window and door manufacturer Euramax, explains how innovative composite materials can create a classic appearance without the traditional problems.
Wooden windows and doors add warmth and luxury to a home, while fitting in with a traditional aesthetic. However, wood is a porous material that can be vulnerable to damage. Because of this, many homes may appear to have wooden windows and doors, when in fact they are made from composites.
Composites are made from a blend of materials that provides them with a combination of properties, meaning they can often achieve the desired appearance, but with mechanical properties that out-perform traditional materials.
Exterior window and door surfaces are subject to harsh environmental conditions. Wood can warp, swell and rot in damp weather, and is also prone to insect infestation. In colder, dryer weather, a reduction in moisture can cause wood to shrink, which can result in hairline cracks and separations in the panels of a wooden door. Because of this, wood requires regular treating and painting in order to stay functional.
Composite windows and doors are highly durable, meaning they require little maintenance and last longer without the need for replacement. Their high stiffness and strength makes them able to withstand strong winds, and their non-porous nature means they’re not susceptible to water damage.
In environments that are particularly hot with high sun exposure, composites are the ideal choice as they have a low coefficient of thermal expansion. Composites can also be enhanced with a UV resistant resin, which helps bind the material’s fibres together while offering an added mechanical benefit that will prevent warping and fading in the heat. Composites also display superior resistance in harsh environments that may be corrosive or abrasive, such as on homes in seaside locations.
Euramax supplies durable, care-free maintenance composite doors that feature a thermoplastic skin, which protects the surface from bumps and scratches. All composite doors require to keep them performing well and looking pristine is occasional mild cleaning.
As well as offering a multitude of functional benefits, composites can achieve the same traditional appearance as wood — and their high durability means this look can be maintained for longer. Composites can be produced in a range of realistic wood-grain finishes so passers-by will never know the difference.
Furthermore, composites can be produced in a range of different colours, such as white, grey and green, while maintaining the wood grain texture. Customising the design of windows and doors with different glass patterns, such as Everglade and Georgian bar, and classic-style accessories, such as door knockers and window handles, can further add to the traditional look.
Though many of us may not secure a television-worthy countryside retreat, customising windows and doors can bring the traditional look to any home. While wood is the epitome of classic, its high maintenance and susceptibility to damage can make it a suboptimal choice. Composites can achieve the traditional wood finish with the added functional benefits of modern technology — providing the best of both worlds.
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