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How to chose your new windows.
Nothing looks more like a window than another window, until a few visits at the manufacturers lead you to think differently. Choosing becomes complicated when you are confronted to various technical terms, such as "PVC" and "Energy-efficiency". To make it clearer, here are some frequently asked questions:
Can PVC, aluminium and wood windows be compared?
Yes, quite easily! In fact, in Canada, all major brands of windows and doors have one common reference: the CSA¬A440 Standard set by the Canadian Standards Association. To meet the A440 standard, windows are submitted to various tests made by independent laboratories which are CSA approved. The end results are rated A, B, and C. With these rates, both the beginner and the expert can evaluate the efficiency of any type of window. For example, you can use rate A to judge how airtight a certain type of sliding or casement window is. Furthermore, with this same method, rate B will tell you if a wooden window by one manufacturer will protect you better from water leakage than a competitor's PVC window.
You may realize by now that the two principal criterions concerning window performance are air and water tightness. To this we add wind resistance trials, which determine the sturdiness of the windows; wind pressure on the window is measured for a minute to verify that no parts will alter.
How are tests done?
There are three types of tests:
Each test requires a minimum and a maximum level of acceptance.
- Air: Levels 1, 2, 3
Level 3 is the min and max acceptable level on the market.
- Water: Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
This is the most important of all three tests.
The minimum required on the market is level 3.
- Pressure: Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Level 3 is the minimum required on the market.
A window rated A3, B3 and C3 is considered an acceptable product in the market.
A window with an A3, B7, and C5 rating is considered to be one the best windows in the North-American market.
What is PVC made of?
PVC is made up of a raw material supplied by petroleum-based chemical firms. Made of ethylene chloride, the resin comes in a salty texture, reminding us somewhat of powdered laundry soap. This resin is mixed with different additives (titanium dioxide, hardening agents, etc.) to create what is called a composite.
With the help of different additives, the sought properties, such as rigidity, opacity, ultraviolet ray resistance, non-corrosive substance, etc., are obtained.
At the stage of extrusion, the composite is poured into a funnel where it is mixed by a plasticating screw at high temperatures. The material in fusion is then expulsed through orifices to form cakes of complex geometric shapes. They are then cooled and cut to create window sashes.
The PVC window
Perfectly air and water tight, the PVC window is made up of a maintenance free plastic material which is an excellent shock absorber, but on the other hand, offers little variety in colors. The only way to have colored PVC is by painting it.
The cost of the PVC window is midway between the wooden and aluminum window.
Is energy efficient glass indispensable?
With an excellent air and water proof window system, the energy-efficient glass unit becomes the next logical step, since it is air infiltration plus loss of heat through the glasswork that determines the thermal performance of the product.
In other words, if you purchase small size sliding windows for the basement that are more or less leakage proof, it is useless to include top quality energy-efficient glass.
However, with a very good air and water tight window, adding energy-efficient glass units will only make a noticeable difference. You will experience more comfort near your windows, less condensation and reductions up to 10% in energy costs.
Let's go further. Since Natural Resources Canada's engineers established the Energy Rating value, which helps to determine the overall energy efficiency of a window, we recognise that without energy-efficient glass, the window cannot provide an adequate thermal protection. However, since very few windows have been labelled with the Energy Rating, it is preferable to take into account the insulating value of the glazing while you are selecting. The energy-efficient glass is rated from R¬2.8 to R¬4.2.