The inherent compromise of clad products
As a custom manufacturer of high quality wood windows an d doors we are passionate in our effort to build beauty as well as function. We’re proud of our flexibility and our ability to adapt to meet project specific needs, design and vision. For the same reasons, we continue to resist the resurgent fad for aluminum clad wood windows. If we went with the trend, everything we do to make our windows and doors look beautiful would be severely compromised. All of our wood parts would have to conform to the inflexible standards for aluminum extrusions, or the thinner (and more easily damaged), roll formed aluminum cladding.
In addition we wouldn’t be able to offer the added value extras that builders find so attractive, such as factory applied exterior trim (any shape or size); rebates on the reverse side of trim
for siding or stucco; different sill projections and horns; custom size components etc.
Most importantly, as we only build to order, we do not force builders to take standard sizes which often compromise appearance and alignment and cause costly “back framing.”
Are clad windows performing as advertised?
Aluminum clad windows offer the promise of a long maintenance free life; however, as a quick web search will show, a common failure is water leaking through the joints, becoming trapped behind the cladding; growing mould, and rotting out the wood within. Caulking of these joints is unsightly, attracts dirt and is doomed to eventual failure. Some vocal opponents believe that a life expectancy of 20 years is common, creating a guaranteed replacement market.
Do clad windows create a “maintenance free” exterior?
The coating on the aluminum may last a long time but nothing is forever. Time will exact its toll; the finish will fade, oxidize and chalk, and even if the coating is technically sound it may still need to be refreshed. As a result of this recurrent fad, there is now a huge market for acrylic latex paints that are specifically designed to paint aluminum and vinyl products that may still be intact, but look dingy and dirty – or to change an unfashionably ugly or bland colour.
Modern high performance paints
The advances in coating technology in recent years, and the advent of very high quality exterior coatings which are also environmentally benign, have changed a lot of preconceptions regarding maintenance of wood.
We first started using these 21st Century coatings in 2002 and have had excellent results, with no paint failures at all. The premium quality latex paints we use are very flexible so we have not seen any of the previous problems associated with aged oil/alkyd paints, such as cracking, peeling and blistering. And as all our wood is kiln dried and coated in a controlled environment, any problems that could arise during application (such as wet wood) do not appear. We also paint all our parts prior to final assembly, glazing, weather-stripping and hardware, so the wood is fully protected and there are no potential entry points for rain to invade.
We don’t believe that anything is “maintenance free,” particularly for exterior applications, and there is a price to pay for these products in terms of reduced attractiveness. We think windows and doors are the single most important element of a home’s exterior – in terms of architectural design, style and visual appeal – and can literally make or break the “look” of a home. While ease of maintenance is an important factor the reality is that any finish chosen will require rejuvenating at some point.
The ‘new’ latex paints: free of the ‘old’ problems of oil and alkyd
Quality exterior latex paints are very long lasting but when it does come time to repaint (perhaps just to change colour as a way of updating the appearance), they are easily recoated without the time consuming preparation that oil paints used to require. In addition we have not seen any of the compatibility problems between coatings that used to be such a problem. Today’s premium quality latex is specified as being suitable for wood, stucco, masonry/cement composition panels, aluminum, vinyl, galvanised metal and architectural plastics. It tenaciously adheres to the wood and provides lasting protection.
Windows and doors are an expression of your creativity. Would ‘you’ cover up these works of art?
- 20 Feb, 2014
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