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Why upgrade your joinery? - Omega Windows & Doors

Why upgrade your joinery?

2021 has seen me finally upgrade my 1974 wooden windows glazed with 3mm glass. It's a project that has taken 11 years to complete. I did not expect this joinery upgrade to have as much of an impact on me, and it's only been 1 day! Before I go into the detail of the joinery upgrade, I'll start with some context about the home.


Our house is small, we chose an older style 1974 small semi-detached unit so we could be mortgage-free sooner rather than never. I wanted a grand home that showed the effort I put into my job, but, my wise husband talked me off the ledge of a very large mortgage and, very late in life, we bought our first home. Prior to the purchase, we had been living in a 1900 built fridge freezer in Parnell. Beautiful location, terrible house. It should have been illegal for us to live in that house, but back then, it was not. After 10 years of living in that 1900 built villa, I needed an inhaler at the age of 36.

I set a plan in motion to save a deposit by not going ANYWHERE for one very long year. We saved everything, and, with the tiniest of deposits (and large interest penalties) we bought our tiny 1974 home. We were lucky in the fact that this was when house prices were still increasing but not yet RIDICULOUS.

When we first moved in, we realised quickly that the "previous owners" had pulled a lick and flick move. Having lied to us by saying they bought the property 4 months earlier for a niece who decided not to go to West Lake Girls (and we bought the story). But, moving in meant we stopped looking at the new kitchen and bathroom and started looking at the paintwork and the guts of the home.

I couldn't complain, it was a paradise compared to the rotting villa in beautiful Parnell. But immediately we realised we could only open two out of six windows because the rest were painted shut. The interior and exterior paintwork was horrendous. There had been no prep work for the longevity of workmanship, they merely painted over what was there previously to make it look nice for sale.

After one year my breathing had improved, but I still couldn't laugh without a coughing fit. We decided to install an HRV system. Having learnt a lot more about ventilating properly from Peter at Occulus during multiple Notion Flo presentations, I realise now that it probably wasn't the best to ventilate with air from the attic. But, it worked, within 5 years I was inhaler free, and have remained so. I still have strong allergies to dust (that didn't exist until I needed the inhaler), but it's manageable.

But the house was still cold. We took advantage of the Government subsidies and insulated the ceiling and underfloor space. Monitoring with the HRV we achieved a 6-degree temperature increase. Moving from a frigid 11 degrees inside in winter to a not-yet warm but more comfortable 16 degrees inside when the temperature was approx 5 degrees outside - so I was happy with the results of insulation (very happy).

And the joinery... well...

Timber windows with 3mm glass. This home was a hothouse in summer and a fridge in winter (but at least it wasn't a freezer). I wish I had a photo of our 1974 aluminium sliding door, but we replaced that approximately 5 years ago. That sliding door did not interlock at the vertical junctions... it just kind of overlapped with a hole from inside to out. The vision rail was made from an aluminium outer shell with custom wood inner. The vision rail rotted out, so I duct-taped it together (I really didn't want to pay for joinery). The glass for the very large sliding door was 3mm and it was cracked, so I used sellotape to shut that sucker down from spreading further (don't judge me).


I honestly did not think that replacing one sliding door in my home would make a difference, but it actually did. That old two-panel sliding door took up one entire wall of our lounge (no engineering involved in that sucker back in the day). Engineering wise, I had to replace the two-panel slider with a three-panel stacking door. Now finally we had a working window in the lounge (yay), and the sound-proofing just from that one door was astounding (but I'll come to acoustics later when I talk about the windows).

Side note: I'm no longer allowed to do site measures, as I got the left and right-hand door sliding action wrong (I have NEVER pretended to be an installer or site measurer and now we know why)... but I have to pay the price because I now have to stand up to let the cat in... I also got the width measurements wrong (sigh).

During the lockdown in 2020, we decided it was time to look at painting the house properly and replacing the windows. I had an aversion to paying for new joinery, and my old company of 18 years did not have a product that I wanted. I was originally going to fully replace the window and use new residential windows, but the complications of opening up the house completely like that, I was not comfortable. By the time I had been with Omega windows and doors for one year, I realised they had a product I wanted to use - an insert window, so we could keep the exterior timber look, and just insert the windows into the timber framing.


The Omega insert window also had the benefit of being a thermal frame.


The sill is slightly exposed to the external air temperature, but the head and jambs are protected from the elements. We chose a LowE argon double glazing, as thermal windows enhance the overall value of the thermal properties of thermally improved double glazing.


I am embarrassed to say it took Kevin from Kiwi Double Glazing to remind me of all my rhetoric about not just looking at what meets code, but upgrade again, and move from a cold aluminium insert frame with low E, to a thermal insert window with low E glazing - so we did!


The temperature isotherm images above are based on the Omega 400 series window frame, and not the insert frame, so I'll do some more work next week and write a post about what the temperature differentials do when its the thermal window insert frame.


My husband and I have no words to describe the difference...and I mean I was literally giggling as we opened and closed windows as cars went passed. I have video evidence, but I've been banned from uploading the video to any form of social media!


Additionally, a bonus I did not expect, but I'm looking forward to exploring more, is the fact that I'm a light sleeper. I usually wake approx 5.30 am when the traffic begins to mount (we live on a busy road). But this morning I woke at 8.00 am (unheard of!). To be honest, I never equated my sleeping patterns with exterior road-noise, so I will keep monitoring this little gem of a discovery.

I use to be a stickler for ensuring I knew the acoustic frequency a project was trying to achieve before choosing the glass. For me, attention to detail has always been important. But what this project has taught me, is that this attention is far more important if you have special projects, such as if you are close to airports, or more importantly, if you have acoustic engineers on your projects (because they really do stick to the details).


Back to the practical experience of having dirty old timber windows replaced by thermal windows with low E argon double glazing.

My husband kept asking me questions about the process, and, I have to say I was bitterly disappointed in my knowledge about this subject. 26 years in aluminium joinery and my experience is on new builds, not insert, retrofit or replacement.

Here is what I have learnt about insert windows:

a) Kiwi Double Glazing's installation team was very professional

b) Yes, they do take the old windows away after they uninstall the dirty rotten messes of what was my old timber joinery

c) My small house took approximately 7 hours to uninstall the old, prep the opening, and then install the new thermal insert windows - so we were done in a day!

d) Kiwi Double Glazing's team cleaned up after themselves and my house was cleaner than when they walked in (once again...don't judge me...I work hard!)

The house is in the throws of being professionally painted by Sensation Painters (contact Paul from Sensation Painters) and the work looks awkward, demanding and not one that could (or should) be undertaken by amateurs. These guys are brilliant and I can't recommend them highly enough. It turns out by some weird act of kismet, that Kiwi Double Glazing had just installed joinery on Paul's own house... weird huh?

I'll update the article with completed photos once the painting is done. But, I will suggest that if you need to paint the house at any stage, and there is a project sitting there to upgrade your windows, do them together - its worth the effort.





Windows & Glass Association