The UK window and door sector varies so much that there is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to design, manufacture and installation. That's why Rapierstar's advice and service is tailored to the regional differences across the UK, with an understanding of the differences in weather, climate and architectural heritage, particularly in Scotland.
The largest market for suppliers of profile, glass and hardware is undoubtedly England, given its much larger population, which means there is a tendency for products, sales and marketing messages to focus on what suits the English market. These products may not, however, be the best for homes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And actually, there is plenty of variation in England too – consider how the stone-built cottages of the Cotswolds differ from the Victorian terraces of northern English cities.
Windows and doors fit for Scottish homes
Scottish windows and doors have always needed an enhanced specification due to the country’s more northerly position that means the climate is cooler with potentially harsher extremes. In fact, the annual average maximum temperature difference between England and Scotland is as much as 2.6 degrees Celsius – 13.1 degrees in England versus 10.5 degrees in Scotland. Rainfall is greater in Scotland too, being 36.7% higher annually than England.
As a result, Scottish building standards call for slightly lower U-values to deliver higher levels of thermal insulation and there is a greater focus on the build quality of windows and doors so they will stand the test of time. This performance is helped by the fact that windows and doors in Scotland’s homes tend to sit further back into the window reveal, a process that also requires a different installation method.
No surprise then that high performance timber window systems originating from Scandinavia have gained significant popularity and uptake by homeowners and developers in Scotland in recent years. Wooden windows also help preserve Scotland’s architectural heritage too in locations such as Edinburgh, where the tradition of timber sash and case windows goes back to the 1600s. And with the recent emergence of some excellent domestically-focused aluminium systems, customers seeking enhanced performance windows and doors have a better choice than ever.
Another factor specific to Scotland is its greater proportion of social housing. According to the ONS, the percentage of homes in the social sector in the UK over the last 10 years has averaged 17%. In Scotland just over a fifth of all homes were in the social sector (22%).
This means that the design and specification of windows and doors in Scotland is more likely to be driven by a professional specifier. And anyone who works with the social housing sector will know how very different its priorities and volumes are in comparison to those of private homeowners.
There are also localised trends to contend with too. Tilt and turns and top swing windows, for example, have always been more popular in Scotland than in England, and the influence of a particularly successful fabricator in a given location can also mean we see a greater uptake in products compared to other parts of the UK, such as with bi-fold doors or conservatories in certain areas.
Devil is in the detail!
The upshot is that the windows and doors typically made for a customer in the south of England could be very different to those for a customer in Scotland. That means the types of fasteners used in their manufacture and installation may need to be different too.
Rapierstar already helps by standardising fastener advice for fabricators based on which PVCu system they are using, as well as when manufacturing timber, aluminium and hybrid systems. But our fasteners are available in different materials according to the level of corrosion resistance needed – in short, coated carbon steel, martensitic stainless steel and austenitic stainless steel.
Consider this. A PVCu window made for a property in relatively temperate, rural Berkshire will be perfectly suited to fasteners that offer a standard level of corrosion resistance – coated carbon steel. But the same product made for a house on the Fife coast will need to be manufactured using austenitic or martensitic stainless steel fasteners which offer resistance to corrosion for at least 10 years.
Specialist support for Scottish fabricators
Rapierstar understands how Scottish windowmakers need a fastener supplier who is in tune with their needs.
That’s why we have a technical consultant for Scotland, Paul McAuley, who has over 35 years’ experience in fastening technology and is therefore ideally positioned to advise on how window and door quality can be optimised for Scotland’s unique specifications and climate. He can also review the manufacturing process by auditing fastener use and application to help any fabricator work more safely, efficiently and therefore profitably.
A number of major Scottish fabricators already use Rapierstar fasteners, supplied directly and via leading distributors, but Paul believes many others could benefit too.