High quality PVC-U windows have an expected service life of over 40 years. One important factor leading to the now well established position of PVC-U in construction applications is its durability. This has led to its use in long-life applications such as pipes and window profiles – the two biggest applications for PVC-U in Western Europe, accounting for over a third of total consumption.
The first commercially available PVC-U windows were installed in Germany in 1959. While the technology for producing these windows has naturally advanced over the years with, for example, the introduction of better performing acrylic-based impact modifiers, some of these earlier PVC-U windows are actually still in use.
PVC-U windows installed 16 years ago looks just like new in the South Island
One of our customers imported PVC-U windows from Austria 16 years ago for his house in the South Island when he could not find a quality PVC-U window fabricator in New Zealand. His imported PVC-U windows not only have survived the harsh weather conditions – high UV, cold in winter and hot in summer, but looks just like new today without maintenance. No wonder he chose our PVC-U windows for his house extension in 2010.
While high quality PVC-U windows are durable, we have to address that low quality PVC-U windows are not.
There are PVC products in the market that are not durable. Some plastic garden chairs discolor and become brittle in a couple of years time. Some other businesses introduced PVC-U windows into New Zealand in the last 30 years and had problems. All of these are true. That is all about quality.
PVC-U profiles can be very different. In PVC-U profile formulation about 70% is PVC. The other 30% are stabilizers, processing aids, impact modifiers, lubricants, fillers, light stabilizers and titanium oxide etc. For high UV weather, a higher amount of titanium oxide should be used to protect the profiles from UV damage. In markets overseas top quality PVC-U profiles may cost 3 times of low quality PVC-U profiles.
The problem was and still is a problem because some businesses chose low quality materials. We have seen some businesses that continue to sell after failed window performance and/or durability tests in New Zealand.
The challenges we are facing are: (1) Some businesses do not use high UV stable PVC-U profiles which will have problems in the future that will damage the industry. (2) Some businesses even make false claims or mislead customers regarding their quality, performance and/or where their profile, hardware etc. come from. (3) There is no standard or regulation for PVC-U windows in New Zealand.
We hope that the government will introduce regulations to make sure of minimum durability and performance of PVC-U windows in this country.