Frame-by-frame: the best material for windows

Frame-by-frame: the best material for windows

What is the best choice of material for windows: uPVC or aluminium? This is a question we get asked regularly by window shoppers (excuse the pun).

My answer? I’d say aluminium (but I do work for an aluminium manufacturer). So the answer is…..there is no right answer. It all depends on what is important to you.


Aluminium windows

Aluminium windows

For me budget is the biggest concern with a renovation project. I still want it to look great, but if I can’t afford the more expensive material (and aluminium generally costs more) then it’s a no-brainer.


Aluminium windows


The major differences are price and thickness of frame but the texture of the frame finish, environmental impact / recyclability and durability are other factors. Aluminium wins in all of these, but, as I’ve mentioned, your bank balance will take a bigger hit.

My advice? Go to a homebuilder’s exhibition or a window supplier that sells both and see what you like. There is something for everyone.


Price is the main difference between pvc and aluminium windows



Fit Show 2017 Howells Glazing stand CAB04

Upcoming exhibitions include Future Build at the Excel – London, Ideal Home Show – London and Glasgow, Homebuilding & Renovating Show – NEC Birmingham, Surrey, Edinburgh & Somerset, Grand Designs – Birmingham & London to list a few.

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Keeping you in the loop (the closed-loop)

Keeping you in the loop (the closed-loop)

Sustainability in the products we use is very important. Our customers expect us to consider the environmental impact of our raw materials especially how waste is managed and recycled.

Metals are found in the earths crust in rocks and ore’s, Bauxite Ore is the primary source of the worlds aluminium, a reddish colour found in the topsoil in tropical and subtropical regions.

Bauxite Ore taken from top soil in tropical regions

The current reserves are estimated to last for at least 400 years without factoring in recycled aluminium. But due to the fact that aluminium is endlessly recyclable these reserves become in effect, inexhaustible.

Mining process for raw aluminium

Aluminium has many benefits in the construction industry, it’s a lightweight metal that is easy to modify and is naturally corrosion resistant.

It can be recycled again and again without losing quality, in fact 75% of all aluminium produced since 1880’s is still in use.

A recent visit to Alutrade to see first hand the recycling process

Have you ever wondered what happens at an aluminium recycling plant?  Being professional curious on your behalf, I recently made a site visit to our supply chain to look at their waste management and it’s a very high tech affair.  The process involves first identifying the exact alloy that is being recycled using sophisticated X-ray equipment and then employing state-of-the-art equipment which effectively strips all thermal breaks and other materials from the profile.  What is left is the prime material, the alloy in its original state which can go back into the same product it came from without any loss of characteristics and vitally at a 100% recyclability rate.  This is known as ‘closed-loop’ because the loop has been closed, the aluminium product which came to the end of its life has been recycled in a new product.

Recycled aluminium

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Howells Patent Glazing was appointed manufacturer and supplier of a bespoke glazing system for one of the greatest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Britain, the Towers, known to millions as the centrepiece of Alton Towers Resort.  Adapting its popular HGR 1 rafter bar, the Black Country business supplied roof lanterns for the restoration of the house conservatory, a significant feature of the south side of the house.

Roof installed by Howells Glazing 2012 using an adapted version of their bar range

Dated around 1815 – 1817, the conservatory was designed by architect, Thomas Hopper, in the Gothic style, with a glazed fan vaulted ceiling believed to be inspired by the chapel at Westminster Abbey.


Built of stone, with iron framed windows and a glazed timber roof, it comprised three elements; two long glasshouses linked by an octagon with Gothic windows.  A fourth element was added later, in 1824, to connect the conservatory with the new Octagon Gallery.


Conservatory Conservation

As part of its commitment to preserving the site’s historical features, the Resort commissioned the restoration of the house conservatory in late 2010, including the re-instatement of the whole roof, using a timber structure with aluminium glazing bars.  As the buildings were listed, the conservation officer was looking for sections which reflected the original form of the roof lanterns, as far as was practicable.  It was proposed that the lanterns were constructed in powder coated aluminium with single glazing.


After a stringent tender process and submission of section details and examples of similar lanterns to the planning officer, Howells Patent Glazing was appointed manufacturer and supplier of the roof lanterns.  Working alongside Staffordshire-based contractor, Seddon Construction, Howells was tasked with producing and installing the roof in just four months, completing the contract prior to the new tourist season.


To meet the slim, pencil line requirements of English Heritage, the patent glazing specialist adapted its popular HGR 1 rafter bar to create a bespoke glazing system.  The 37.5mm slimline aluminium glazing bars sit on the wooden rafters so the view from below is timber, as it would have been originally.  To complement the mullions, crestings were designed specifically for the conservatory featuring fleur de leys.   These were profile cut from 6mm aluminium.  The aluminium bars and crestings were powder coated in RAL 9010, an off-white satin finish.


Future-proof Reconstruction

That was seven years ago, since then the conservatory has been a magnificent spectacle for the many thousands of visitors passing through the Staffordshire tourist attraction.  David Rhodes, head of buildings and estate at Alton Towers, comments, “With regard to the roof, we have had no issues over the past seven years and it is performing as expected.”


Tracey, business development manager for £3m turnover firm, Howells Patent Glazing  joined a panel of Black Country business figures to discuss the impact of the 2018 Budget on the West Midlands economy.


Tracey told the Budget review at Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre that it ‘was disappointing for businesses like hers,’ and that ‘it wouldn’t have much impact on small businesses.’


Courtesy of Express and star

As a director of a family firm with more than 40 years heritage, Tracey was keen to hear of improvements and investment for SMEs and personal development.  “There were a couple of really positive announcements,” says Tracey, speaking after the event from Howells’ head office in Cradley Heath.  “The savings on business rates will be helpful for those similar to ourselves, as will the discount on the training levy.  We are invested into upskilling our staff and this will help with the next round that we undertake.  There was also a concerted effort to help micro businesses become digital.”


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Howells Bloopers Blog

In a world where image is king, we are constantly looking for good pictures to show off our products. But it is not easy trying to get good photos of our completed work. We encourage customers to send us snaps of our products after installation and we ask our fitters to take pictures as often as possible. The problem with the latter is, while our portion of the job might be finished, the job overall is far from complete. For that reason we end up with images of a building site; scaffolding still up, workmen/women in the background and rubble and packaging strewn around. These don’t make for particularly professional looking works of art.


We recently decided to take a look at the images we publish on our website. There were hundreds of them. Some were excellent, some……not so good. In an effort to brighten up your day we thought we would share some of the not so good ones – the Howells bloopers.


This example comes in 2 parts and is one of my all time favourites. These featured on our website for years. Firstly we have a lovely builder’s bum in the background with some nice mood lighting…….


Then later, in the next, shot we have an audience for the photo taking.

That’s it lads, get in on the action here. Say cheese!

Next is what I like to call ‘glazing bar from heaven’. I always play some angelic sounds in my head when I look at it. I think someone got a little experimental with photoshop. There is a Michelangelo feel to this don’t you think? Who said patent glazing bars can’t be high brow?


Below we have a wonderful example of ‘work in progress’. Some beautiful mono pitched glazing can be seen. In an attempt to emphasise the high specification used here we like to have some bricks lying around, some lining and a camping chair just in shot #keepingitreal.


We offer an Amazon voucher as a gesture of thanks to our customers who do take the time to send a photo of the finished job. The majority are excellent but sometimes it feels a little bit like the

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What do you expect whilst spending your hard earned money?

Everyone wants to receive good service whilst spending their long, hard earned money in a shop.

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Respect and manners is worth nothing, right?

When you enter a shop or supermarket, you want your hard-earned money to be valued with good customer service.   So, are respect and manners the answer?

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What’s the difference between good and bad services?

What’s the difference between good and bad services? Everyone throughout their life will have experienced them at least once from employees in different stores across the UK.

Features of a good service:

Good services is heavily judged in respect of the customer. If you receive good service it shows the employer and employees are respectful towards the customers. Good service should be included with any business as it offers many different positives; for example it works in both the customers and the companies favour, because it leaves the customer happy, satisfied and will encourage them to go back to the same place in the future, if their services are needed. Good services expand a business because if you show the customer care, respect and treat their requests carefully with the companies full efforts, it improves the name of the company as well as having a heightened chance of returning customers or drawing more in.

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The characteristics of good or bad service

I’m sure everyone has experienced good or bad service in their lifetime

So you ask this question well, what makes bad service?  It is impolite staff who have a lack of knowledge and are lazy. An example would be, when I was once in a shop and I asked for one of the staff to collect my order she then began to serve lots of customers and forgot about what I asked .This made me feel frustrated and annoyed as I was waiting for ages and it was very time consuming.

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Work experience to young people is the way forward for British businesses

Work experience to young people is the way forward for British businesses, there is much information about the skills shortage in the UK and what better way to tackle it than by inspiring the youth of tomorrow with a sneak peak of the dizzy world of commerce.  With national statistics indicating 695549 children born in 2003 and potentially seeking work experience in the UK and then another potential 2 million over the next 3 years, it feels that it is going to be an immense task to take on for schools and businesses.

Work experience has traditionally been ill used leaving the young nearly school leavers with experiences with stacking boxes, sweeping up and stuffing envelopes…. Hardly inspiring….  What if this experience could be turned on its head and instead a cohesive approach formulated by the company to truly give a glimpse into different departments?

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