I did eventually get to Ecobuild, Wednesday afternoon, and having arrived with very low expectations after last years’ event, I must admit to really enjoying my visit. Go in the afternoon – it’s a lot quieter – that’s my tip.
I went to see a debate about decarbonising the existing stock with John Gummer and Michael Meacher, which was mildy interesting. I had good talks with a number of people, only some of whom I already knew.
But perhaps the most interesting conversation I had was right at the end when I stumbled across the Howarth Windows stand and fell into conversation with Keith Topliss. I noticed that Howarth had a triple glazed timber window on display which I hadn’t seen before from a UK manufacturer and asked how much they were charging for it. It’s not out yet, about to be launched in April and pricing hasn’t been set yet.
I then asked him about the Supply Air window which I knew there were making but saw no evidence of on the stand. That apparently is still undergoing testing in the UK, but is going very well in Ireland. Again, Howarth hope to launch the Supply Air window later this year in Britain.
Keith then proceeded to tell me about how the window market had completely changed since the NHBC brought factory-glazing into their warranty cover in 1998. Bit by bit, the old practice of site glazing has died away, especially in the new build sector, and with it the problems that once befell double-glazed sealed units, namely misting up and condensation. Keith said: ”90% of the problems we have with glazing units stem from the 10% of our market that still uses on-site glaziers. Misting up on factory glazing is now so rare that it’s virtually a thing of the past.”
He told me some horror stories of just how badly site glazing can be done. The glass units need to have plastic packers set correctly around them, a practice known as toeing and heeling, and whilst this is routinely done in factories, many glaziers simply don’t know about it and this eventually leads to the units moving in the frames and causing the seals to break down.
Howarth only make timber windows, they have never got involved in PVC. But their range is now expanding to take on the likes of Rationel and Protec by providing timber windows with an aluminium capping and with it a 25-year guarantee. They look set to raise the bar for UK volume joinery manufacturers.