Man installing a window

How to Choose a Window Installer

You’ve thought long and hard about new windows for your home; you considered style, materials, energy efficiency and price. Now you have them bought and ready it can be tempting to get them fitted as soon as possible. Unfortunately choosing a window installer requires just as much consideration as choosing the windows themselves. That’s because it’s critical they are fitted properly otherwise they could cause you several issues down the line. We’re here to help though, with our expert tips on finding the best window fitter.

How do you install new windows?

While it can be tempting to want to save a few pounds, when it comes to installing windows we recommend you seek help from a professional. When windows aren’t installed properly they can cause multiple problems, such as air and water leaks, and chances are you’ll probably have to get them adjusted eventually anyway. Play it safe and get your new windows installed by a professional fitter.

What’s more, if you damage your windows by installing them yourself you will be liable for the breakages. We recommend you always seek the services of a professional window installer.

When having your windows installed you should also consider time scales. If you’ve found someone to fit your new windows you should also check if they will be removing your old windows. If not, do they need you to remove the glass alone or the entire frame? Discuss this with your installer before agreeing a time for them to come and fit your panes. You should also try and ensure you remove and replace your windows in one day. You don’t want to start the job at 4pm on a Friday and have to wait until Monday for completion – this leaves your home cold and vulnerable.

How to choose a window fitter

  • Check they are certified by an approved body. Your installer should have a FENSA or CERTASS This ensures they have the right qualifications and you can be assured that they know what they’re doing. The last thing you want is to spend money on new windows only for them to be ruined by poor installation.
  • Don’t automatically choose the cheapest rate. While it can be tempting to save money, the cheapest rate may be a risky option. You should bear price in mind; the most expensive doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best service, but you should base your decision on other more important criterion. For example checking their certification should be the first thing you consider.
  • Larger companies will charge more, often unnecessarily. There is nothing wrong with choosing an established windows installer but be aware they will charge more for installation. A local installer, with the same accreditation and skillset, will likely be a lot cheaper and may also be more willing to be flexible to your schedule as they have more lenient work demands.
  • Check to see if they’ll be removing your old windows as well as installing your new frames. The last thing you want is to miss your time slot because the old windows are still in place when they come to fit your new ones. Clarify this before to make sure.
  • Check recommendations, reviews and previous work. This is as important a task as checking the installer is certified. If your fitter has the right qualifications but has a string of recent, bad reviews saying their installation work wasn’t level and caused air leaks, then they are probably not the right person or company for the job. Reviews are a good way to check their services are up to scratch. When looking for an installer you could always start by asking friends and family for their recommendations as it might save you a lot of legwork. Still do your research on the recommendations, but this may help you find someone quicker.
  • Get multiple quotes for services. You might find several people equally qualified with great reviews, then you can start using price comparisons to find the best installer.
  • Don’t be pressured into signing anything immediately. Do your research first, never go with your first quote just because the salesperson was convincing. Always do your research.
  • Check the company or fitter has insurance. If anything was to go wrong with the installation and your windows got damaged you want to ensure you can hold your fitter liable. Check they have the appropriate insurance because otherwise you’re going to face a hefty bill.

How much does it cost to install a window?

Different companies will charge different rates and it is possible to have a huge difference between your cheapest quote and your most expensive. With this in mind, it’s difficult to give you a quantifiable range. Local contractors or smaller installation companies will be a lot cheaper than established national brands but bear in mind there are other important checks you will need to consider before even thinking about price. Once you’ve checked the window fitter is legitimate and has good reviews then you can consider affordability.

Do expect to pay a deposit upfront. This is not unusual, you want to guarantee someone will turn up to fit your windows when they say and they want to guarantee they’re not going to waste their time and resources to be let down at the last minute. A deposit is expected and gives both parties security. Don’t pay a deposit to your first quote however, make sure you shop around and find the best services before signing any agreements and handing over any deposits.

Looking for new windows for your home? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.

Windows with external shutters

Curtains, Blinds or Shutters?

There are various ways in which you can dress up your windows but should you choose curtains, blinds or shutters? And does it really matter or are there key functional differences that make one choice a better fit for your home? We’ve put together a short buyer’s guide that explains all your window options and discusses what coverings might be better suited to certain types of property or rooms.

Curtains

curtains

Curtains come in many materials, colours and prints, so will work well with any room style and property type. They are versatile in design but they also have additional benefits compared to blinds and shutters.

Thick curtains are great insulators, useful for keeping warmth within your home. This also makes them great at blocking out exterior noise and light, which is why many people opt for curtains (particularly in their bedrooms and living rooms).

On the downside curtains must be either opened or closed; there is no partial view, which can be seen as a pro and a con. Open curtains allow you to see the full view from your window which is great if you have picturesque surroundings. If you’re living in a busy urban environment however, they don’t stop people peering into your home. It may be wise to consider your location then when deciding whether curtains are the right choice for your home.

Blinds

Blinds are available in a variety of styles.

Vertical Blinds

Vertical blinds run from top to bottom and close inward when controlled with a wand. These are often chosen for their convenience rather than style. For example, they are simple to clean and they can be replaced easily if damaged. They are not the best option if you are seeking privacy or want to block out light, and can often be noisy, so while they may not be recommended for your bedroom they might suit your kitchen.

Roman Blinds

Roman blinds are a fabric blind that can be lowered using a chord. Roller blinds are very similar in description although they can be rolled up completely giving you full view of your window, while roman blinds will still cover up part of your window.

Roman blinds tend to be thicker and cosier with a more classic style. These are often used in living rooms to create a stylish yet relaxed ambience. Their characteristics make them great at keeping heat within the home and they’re a popular choice in period properties.

Roller Blinds

Roller blinds tend to be thinner and suit lighter, airier rooms like kitchens and bathrooms. They can come in an endless array of styles and prints so are often used for decorative purposes, especially in children’s bedrooms.

Venetian Blinds

Venetian blinds are blinds that tilt open and close. You can also lift them using the control chord. When people refer to venetian blinds they generally mean blinds made of metal, although they can be made from plastic or wood. They are often used on side windows within the home or in larger rooms as an alternative to curtains. Venetian blinds take up less room than a curtain and they fit to the window so can seemingly create more space within a room.

Wooden Blinds

Wooden blinds were previously known as wooden venetian blinds but are now, generally, simply referred to as wooden blinds. Wood is highly durable but their longevity does come with a price – they are often the most expensive option available.

Pleated Blinds

Pleated blinds are fabric blinds that are also known as honeycomb shades. Pleated blinds are often chosen for conservatories.

Skylight Blinds

Skylight blinds are fabric blinds used on attic and roof windows to block out direct sunlight. They tend to come in a variety of colours and styles to suit your preference. Due to the requirements of this type of window, skylight blinds are often the only choice for roof windows.

Shutters

shutters

Traditionally shutters were used on the outside of your windows however they are now a popular interior window option. There are two main types of shutters – solid shutters which close off a window completely or tracked shutters which are similar to blinds in the sense the can be opened and closed.

Solid Shutters

Solid shutters allow complete privacy, so no one can see inside your home. They will also help block out light and exterior noise. Solid shutters are more of an acquired taste however as they do close off a room. They would be better suited for rooms in which creating a serene environment is extremely important, for example your bedroom or study. They might not be the best option for your kitchen or dining room, which tend to call for a lighter and more sociable environment. These type of rooms may benefit from tracked window shutters.

Tracking Shutters

Tracking shutters, as they are also called, are similar to blinds in the sense they can be opened to allow maximum light or closed completely. Tracked shutters work more efficiently than blinds as they allow you to block out more light. They are often used in modern properties and their subtle colour schemes mean they tend to match all decors, so if you change the style of your home often, you wouldn’t have to worry about changing your window dressings. Solid shutters are also popular in cottages and barn conversion style properties.

Whether you choose curtains, blinds or shutters for your home will very much depend on personal preference. While some features may be better suited to different windows and properties, you could realistically choose any option. Curtains offer great insulation which often makes them a better fit for the living room or bedroom. Blinds are versatile and come in many styles that suit any interior design or room type. Shutters encompass the same style qualities as blinds yet are better equipped at blocking out light and can suit modern or period properties. Whatever you choose, use this guide to familiarise yourself with all the different styles and options.

Surviving a Family Car Trip featured image

Family Car Trip: Survival Guide

A road trip with the family could be one of the best experiences of your life. It could also be one of the worst.

Time on the road can be a great way to strengthen bonds with your loved ones, and form memories that will last a lifetime. On the other hand, too much time in a confined space with people you’re happy to tell how you really feel can go very wrong, very quickly.

Surviving a road trip with the family can be tough, but help is at hand with our family car trip safety briefing card. Be sure to pass one to each member of the family prior to departure, then sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Or try to, anyway…

family car trip survival guide

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More Tips and Ideas for Surviving a Family Car Trip

Pick the Right Destination

It may be the journey and not the destination that matters most but everyone will be happier, more patient, and just all-round in a better mood if they have something to look forward to at the end of the trip.

Pack Plenty of Activities

Books, music and movies (if you have the means to play them) all help pass the time and reduce boredom (just make sure to keep them all within easy reach). However, this is a family trip, so plan some car games you can play together, too.

And Plenty of Snacks

Snacks are an excellent distraction when kids start getting antsy (plus we all need to eat and food on the road can be pricey, so you can help cut costs by coming prepared).

Don’t forget to bring drinks, either. Mini juice cartons are always popular with kids, but pack plenty of water, too.

Schedule Stops

You’ll inevitably have to make one or two unscheduled stops along the way but planning when and where you want to take a break ahead of time can help you make the most of your time off the road.

Don’t just stop at service stations – why not take a short detour and visit a new town, have a picnic in a park, or check out a local attraction? Just remember to pack a sunshade for the front window so your car stays cool while you’re away.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Check your oil and brake fluid levels and the tread on your tyres before you leave, and ensure you never run too low on petrol.

Pack a first aid kit, tool kit, a torch, pillows and a blanket, and just in case, a map – you never know when your sat-nav might fail.

Skip the Queues with Traffic-Beating Apps

Apps like Waze and iExit notify you when there’s traffic up ahead and help you find an alternative route.

Timber windows

How to Check Windows for Air Leaks

Energy efficiency is not the most exciting of topics so it’s not surprising that for most homeowners it’s not a priority. However an energy efficient home warms up quicker and requires less heating, which in turn means cheaper utility bills. While it’s not the most exciting conversation to have, the benefits are well worth it.

Energy efficiency doesn’t just mean improving your home’s insulation; it also requires checking for draughts and their cause. Windows are one of the main causes of draughts in the home so we’ve put together a short guide on how you can check them and what to do if they are causing are leaks.

broken window

What are air leaks?

Air leaks refer to heat escaping from your home. Many things can cause this but heat commonly escapes through gaps within your windows and doors. Draughts result from cracks which, understandably, make your home feel cold. To compensate for the draughts homeowners crank up the central heating or the duration they have their heating on for. Unfortunately this won’t make too much of a difference to the warmth of the home, but it will increase the cost of your heating bills.

Air leaks can be costly so it is important you identify the issue as soon as possible and get them fixed.

How do you check for air leaks?

There are various ways to check for air leaks but to be completely sure we recommend a combination of the following:

  • Closely inspect the windows. Over time the sealant around the windows can diminish. Go outside and have a close look to see if you can see any gaps between the window frame and the siding. If you do find gaps you will need to put some extra caulk around the windows.

  • Conduct a DIY ‘smoke’ test. Close any windows or doors and turn off any appliances (fans, heaters, etc.) that may cause draughts or air movement. Light a candle and move it around your window. Hold it for a few moments next to the corners of the frame in particular and see if you notice any changes to the candle flame. If air is coming through the windows you should see the flame flicker.
  • Use an infrared thermometer. Place the thermometer by your windows and see what the reading says. If it’s registering a colder temperature to the rest of the house, there’s likely to be an issue.
  • Seek professional help. You could ask a technician to conduct an energy audit on your home. They will look at your heating and water systems and check your windows, doors and ventilation to check for any efficiency issues. This is quite a thorough examination of your home so it might be worth considering whether this is a necessary expense or not. If you notice some gaps in the sealant around your windows, you probably won’t need an energy audit – you can apply some caulk and weatherstripping and fix the problem yourself.

If you can’t seem to find any issues however, and your heating bills are high but your home always seems draughty, it might be worth considering contacting an auditor to conduct some professional checks. It is also worth noting that a professional will often conduct a type of smoke test and they will take an infrared reading – these are tests you can realistically do yourself pretty easily. If you want a thorough home check, professional help would be recommended but if you are worried about your windows and doors, check them yourself first – you could save yourself some money.

How do you fix air leaks?

The cause of your air leaks will determine how you fix them. For example, if you have a modern home with new energy efficient windows chances are you won’t need to replace your windows. Instead, your issue is likely to be a few gaps in the caulking. This can be fixed easily with some more sealant. If however you live in a period property with single glazed windows you may need have a more expensive task ahead. Whatever your cause there are multiple options for fixing air leaks.

  • Scrape any old, cracked sealant away from the windows and apply a fresh layer of caulk on top, to seal any gaps.

  • Replace the weatherstripping around your windows. Felt tape will only last a couple of years so for longevity opt for either foam or plastic tape.
  • Put foam sealant between your window frame and your siding. This will help with air leaks and also stop any water entering your home.
  • Change the glass panels in your windows. Some windows are better insulators than others. If you have older single glazed windows that let cold into your home easily, it may be more beneficial to simply change your windows than try any other methods. Modern windows come with an energy rating so you can check their efficiency before buying. Windows should be at least C rated although for maximum efficiency you should look for A rated windows.
  • Add window films to your windows. Window films are adhesive strips that sit on top of the glass inside your home; they reflect heat back into your room rather than letting it escape through the window. These are effective but films are only a short term solution and are not as efficient as energy efficient windows.

Looking for new windows for your home? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.

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Plant on a window ledge

How to Choose Curtains That Will Help Soundproof Your Home

There are many reasons you may want to soundproof your home. While sound is great at opportune times – we all love hearing the voices of our loved ones, watching our favourite TV shows and listening to our favourite songs; there are occasions where we might want to block out unwanted noises. For example when in the comfort of your home you want to be able to enjoy peace and quiet. You don’t necessarily want to hear noisy neighbours, the weather on the windows, traffic outside, or children playing on the street. Often, you want to be able to sit down, relax, and get away from the busyness of everyday life.

Unfortunately while you can’t control the volume of the outside world, there are steps you can take to soundproof your home and curtains are arguably the cheapest and most efficient way of doing so.

What are the ways that I can soundproof my home?

There are multiple ways to soundproof your home and while all will help to block out noise, some are more convenient than other.

  • Soundproofing foam/material. This usually involves sticking adhesive panels to the walls in your home. While this is ideal if you happen to have a recording studio in your home or garage, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing solution for your living room.
  • Gap sealers are designed to sit underneath your door to help block out noise from other rooms.
  • Air conditioning. Some people install air conditioning so they don’t have to open their windows in spring and summer. However air conditioning can be quite noisy in itself so this may not be the most viable soundproofing solution (however at the same time, some people might find the white noise air conditioning produces soothing).
  • Thick carpets are great for controlling noise within the home, no longer will you have to listen to footsteps on creaky floorboards, but this doesn’t help as much with outside noises.
  • Heavyweight curtains are great for absorbing sound waves. This option is affordable and offers other benefits so we are going to look in detail at how they can help soundproof your home.

How do curtains help with soundproofing?

While there are many ways to soundproof your home, many of them can be rather expensive and time consuming. A cheap and popular option for many homeowners is sound-blocking curtains.  It is common knowledge that noise travels but certain types of materials can help prevent that. Hard surfaces like tiles and wood will help sound travel by reflecting the waves whereas softer materials like carpet and curtains help to stop sound in its tracks by absorbing the waves.

Outside noise commonly enters your home through your windows or doors. Curtains act as a guard and absorb exterior noise trying to get inside your home.

There are certain types of curtain that will be more successful in helping to block out sound so we’ve put together some tips on how to find the most effective curtains for cancelling out unwanted sounds.

What type of curtains are best for soundproofing your home?

Heavy blackout curtains are by far the best option for blocking out sound, and they have other benefits, too. They block out light, while the thickness of the curtains helps prevent cold drafts from entering the home. These are commonly used in the bedroom for blocking out those lighter spring and summer mornings when the sun rises before our alarm.

blackout curtains

Curtains are often the cheapest and most aesthetically pleasing soundproofing solution. Not all curtains qualify as sound absorbers however; there are certain qualities you will need to look out for.

When buying curtains you should consider the height, width, weight, style and material of the curtains – all are contributing factors in helping block out unwanted noise.

Generally the thicker a curtain is, the better it will be at absorbing noise, so you should consider the weight of the curtain then when making your choice. The heavier the better, so look for thicker materials.

Suede and velvet are quite thick and the microfibres on softer materials help to absorb more sound waves. You should also look for layered curtains as the extra lining makes them naturally thicker. Thicker curtains are obviously more expensive but they are the cheapest way of soundproofing your home and they come with multiple benefits. You could also save money and line your curtains yourself by stitching materials together, but that is your choice.

When looking for good soundproofing curtains you should also consider their width and style. Wide curtains that have pleats in are better at blocking sound waves. The wider the curtain, the more gather they have so will create tighter creases in the curtain. The creases in the curtain will help to reflect soundwaves but the pleats will also thicken the curtain, providing more material. This makes it harder for sound to travel through.  Wide curtains are often twice the size of your window but for maximum effect you should look at pleated curtains that are three times your window size.

Another factor that will help block out sound is the length of the curtain. Put your curtain rail slightly higher than the window and allow your curtains to sit slightly on the floor. When measuring for your curtains, allow an extra 10-15 inches to your height measurements to get this added length – exact quantities will depend on your preference and how your window sits but roughly 10-15 extra inches would be a good fit. The extra height will cover your window completely, acting as a screen from outdoor noises.

There are many ways you can soundproof your home but none are perhaps as convenient and cost-effective as curtains. Soft materials like curtains and carpets absorb sound waves ensuring sound doesn’t travel. This is useful for keeping noise inside your home and great for preventing exterior noise creeping in. There are certain types of curtains you need to look for and often these can be more costly, however when you consider the many benefits they offer and compare them to other solutions, they are a worthy investment.

Wider, longer, thicker and heavier curtains with pleats are the most efficient option, and as well as sound protection they also help to keep your home warmer and block out the light.