In days gone by, double glazing used to be considered a status symbol, a sign of wealth; this was way back in the heady neon-infused era of the 1980s. Now, nearly every suburban or city street you stroll through in Birmingham, double glazing of all configuration and colours decorates the homes. If you rent a property now, double glazing is a standard feature, not a luxury for which you pay a premium. We possibly even take uPVC windows for standard now, no longer impressed by the neighbour’s Edwardian style conservatory. But it hasn’t always been this way. uPVC double glazing has undergone many technological advancements in the last sixty years, and we’ll look at some of these below.
Progress in glass production
Before uPVC window frames could encase double glazing, the glass needed manufacturing in a way that ensured a conventional thickness and a smooth surface. In pursuit of this, amid 1953 and 1957 the Float Glass Process was born when Anthony Pilkington and Ken Bickerstaff devised a method of floating molten glass over a bed of heated metal. This technique bypassed the grinding and polishing required to make the glass transparent and transformed the manufacture of glass.
Welded glass and vinyl clad windows
Chances are, your Birmingham home has uPVC windows possibly white or a with natural woodgrain effect. We’re perhaps guilty of taking such comfort for granted, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that casement windows appeared. In 1952, the Andersen Corporation introduced Welded Insulating Glass. Two panes of glass with an air-gap welded on to a metal frame. There are still original Andersen windows working in American properties to this day. The glass Andersen used was first introduced by the Libby Owens Ford Company. Known as ‘Thermopane’ glass, it was brought to market in 1952 to protect homes against the bite of winter frost.
Moving on to the swinging ’60s and discovery was beginning to blend with style. Andersen Corporation was again at the vanguard; their Vinyl-clad windows protected wooden frames on the exterior while allowing the bare wood of the interior to show. For the first time, double glazing was becoming affordable and durable, albeit only in the USA.
Practical innovations for a rapidly changing landscape
The 1970s was a time when designers and engineers began to muse on the practicality of double glazing design. Construction of high-rise building was altering the landscapes of cities, which gave rise to find a more simple way to clean them. Originating in Germany, tilt and turn windows were widespread before expanding into other countries in mainland Europe and the US. The design incorporates more airtight seals delivering better performance when braving the harsh winter conditions experienced in northern Europe.
Advancements in the manufacturing of uPVC windows
The 1980s saw the beginning of modern double glazing as we understand it today. Arched windows, similar to the ones in the facade of the Argent Centre in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, could be made through a manufacturing process, rather than by hand. These ‘Round Top’ uPVC windows were introduced to the American market in the early ’80s.
During the same period, thoughts began to turn to environmental concerns. An aspect of these considerations was how to make homes more energy-efficient and hence low-E glass was born – providing a thin layer of transparent metal, low-E glass stalls the movement of heat through the pane. In winter, the metal returns warmer temperatures into the interior, while in the summer heat is reflected out from the window. This advancement in technology meant that homes with double glazing could now make real provisions against their rising energy consumption. By the beginning of the new millennium, most double glazing now incorporated low-E glass.
One of the more notable advancements in double glazing over the last decade or so is triple glazing. It features an additional pane of glass that reduces noise transference and increases heat retention and energy efficiency. Triple glazing has been the norm in colder climates like Scandinavia since the mid-seventies, but it is yet to catch on fully in the UK.
If you have any double glazing requirements and are seeking a Birmingham company at the forefront of the latest uPVC window developments, contact Mainstream Double Glazing today.