Wood vs UPVC: The Battle Continues

Tuesday 6 June 2017

The battle between Wooden winodws and PVCu windows "A briefing on the environmental performance of PVCu vs. wood windows, according to recent research, from the Wood Window Alliance."

Comparing Impacts: Wood vs PVCu

Available studies show considerable concerns about the enviromental impact of PVCu windows. The main concerns are:

  1. Consumption of Fossil Fuels: PVC is a major user of fossil fuels, and accounts for 4% of global oil production
  2. Human Toxicity: PVC is made from Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM). When burned it emits dioxins as well as hydrogen chloride which can cause respiratory disease
  3. Energy and Emissions in Manufacture: VCM is made from chlorine. Producing chlorine is energy and emissions-intensive, and in 2015 1/3 of Europe's total chlorine production was used to manufacture PVC. UK's major chlorine plant in Runcorn uses roughly the same amount as energy as used by the city of Liverpool (250MW)
  4. Many organisations such as Apple have banned using PVC in their products


How does wood compare? Wood when sourced from credibly certified, well managed forest sources is...

  • Naturally renewable and can provide environmental, social and economic benefits for the long term
  • Biodegradable and can be recycled for new uses or as an end of life option can be burned for energy
  • A low carbon product type
  • Has natural advantage: made by nature, durable, versatile, biodegradeable, and if forests are well managed = renewable
  • Some wookd products have a long working life and can last many years with less energy and pollution than plastic
  • Reusable- Nearly all types of solid wood can be reused
  • Are carbon negative: and that each wood window used instead of a PVCu window saves an estimated 160kgs CO2e over its lifetime
  • • Last twice as long as PVCu: with normal maintenance, a factory-finished wood frame can be expected to last around 60 years, roughly twice as long as a PVCu frame


Aren't PVCu windows more practical than wood?

Over the last 20 years or so, many have been persuaded to replace their old wooden windows with PVCu double-glazing to save money on heating bills and time on maintenance.

There is NO difference in energy-efficiency between new PVCu and wood windows, as the energy-efficiency of the window is determined by the glazing unit and both are available with double or triple glazing as standard.

All windos need maintenance, but with today's engineered wood, fully factory finished timber windows has been reduced to a typical 8-year re-coating with minimal preparation, so the frequent repainting and extensive preparation required for old timber windows is a thing of the past.

Another advantage of wood windows is that they can be easily redecorated and of course repaired if necessary.

So whilst PVCu frames might seem cheaper, wood frames are the better investment for long-term value, even taking maintenance into account, because of their longer life.