Fibreglass: a Senior Solution
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Fibreglass: a Senior Solution

Senior Fibre Systems

Those looking for high specification window systems have traditionally opted for aluminium or timber as the material of choice, depending on the application and aesthetic qualities required to match a building’s design. Indeed, Senior Architectural Systems offers both options – a high performing aluminium range, and Hybrid, which combines an engineered timber frame faced externally with aluminium for ultimate protection.

Senior’s is now introducing a third option to the UK – fibreglass. With performance, longevity and green credentials to its credit, fibreglass will undoubtedly be the right choice for a number of applications. Senior’s sales and marketing director Steve Wightman explains why.

The UK’s changing Building Regulations are driving suppliers in the fenestration market towards achieving ever-lower U-values and higher overall performance. Systems companies are responding with increasingly sophisticated solutions to meet and often surpass what is being demanded of them. Technical development will continue apace and Senior’s commitment to R&D has never been stronger. However, this runs in parallel with the development of new materials choices to satisfy the plethora of demands faced by specifiers.

The option of pultruded fibreglass has been available for some time in Canada, where climatic considerations and sustainable development are at a far higher level than we are required to meet in Britain. (In the extrusion process, the material to be formed is pushed through a die, but fibre-reinforced composites need to be pulled instead – hence ‘pultrusion’). Senior’s is now offering pultruded fibreglass as a mainstream product line to its fabricator and installer network in the UK.

Pultruded fibreglass is very strong, dimensionally stable and durable, and can be formed accurately into sophisticated profiles. It is therefore not surprising it is being used in the manufacture of windows. The advantages over uPVC – against which it is often compared – are many. As a material, fibreglass is free of fossil fuels; it is durable and it has a design life of around 40 years, largely because it is inherently stable. It is a natural insulator because it does not conduct heat and cold, and so eliminates the need for thermal breaks. The components within a fibreglass window share the same origins – glass – meaning there is minimal expansion and contraction. Where movement does occur, the components expand and contract as a unit.

The big attraction of fibreglass is that it’s fully repairable. Damaged frames can be filled, sanded and finished to a high standard, retaining all the qualities for which they were originally specified. With this flexibility and durability as principle features, fibreglass is ideal for applications where the prediction of life costs is essential – typically public sector installations such as health, education, student accommodation and social housing.

Finally, cost is always a key consideration in the specification process, and is often used to position a fenestration solution in context with other options. Initial capital expenditure is comparable with aluminium or composite windows. However, a whole life cost study conducted by the Building Research Establishment concluded that, over a 30-year period, pultruded fibreglass was more economical than both of these and other major window materials.

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