With roof windows increasingly featured in new homes, PHPD visited Keylite’s manufacturing plant in Zambrow, Poland to discover why the company has expansion on its mind.
As well as being a popular solution for single-storey extensions and loft conversions in existing homes, roof windows are increasingly finding a place in new homes too. With many housebuilders looking to create a marketable space at the heart of the home, a ‘lifestyle-led’ kitchen/family room is a feature of many new home designs. To make these spaces inviting, designers are looking to flood them with natural light delivered using features like bifold or sliding doors and multiple roof windows.
Additionally, with the necessity to maximise square footage and room numbers on constrained plot sizes, a number of new home designs feature 2.5 storeys with a room in the roof. Within the large mix of house designs featured on many developments, it is unlikely that any new scheme would be specified without roof windows included somewhere in the list of requirements.
These trends are leading housebuilders to pay increasing attention to roof windows. Having noticed this growing market, manufacturers are also creating new products with greater levels of innovation. The latest solutions can not only help to speed installation, reduce traditional problem areas and deliver enhanced performance levels, but they also deliver the functionality and aesthetics demanded by buyers.
The new Polar range
Launched this year, Polar is the latest range of roof windows from Keylite. In development for over three years, the new range features a number of innovations which the company has, according to Managing Director John Duffin, “built into its new roof window to solve the problems faced by housebuilders.”
Most notably, the new Polar range is made from PVC – a departure from the traditional timber roof window that dominates the market. With the market for roof windows moving from a natural pine internal finish to a painted white finish, the move to PVC is well timed to meet the growing trend.
PVC also helps to minimise onsite damage during installation, as Keylite Managing Director John Duffin explained: “Polar is a practical solution for housebuilders who are aware of the extra care needed onsite to handle white painted windows. With Polar, they find that the PVC frame can be easily handled onsite with extra resilience against marking or chipping. It is inevitable that a window is going to get finger-marked and dusty during installation, but Polar’s PVC finish can be simply wiped clean which facilitates easy preparation at handover.”
Retaining the thermal integrity of a building is increasingly important for housebuilders, and the multi-chambered profile of PVC helps to build the thermal properties of the roof window, as does warm edge glazing. However, it is the company’s expanding thermal collar that looks to make a real difference to the thermal efficiency of the roof window.
Also available on the company’s timber roof windows, the expanding thermal collar is fitted to the Polar PVC roof window during manufacture and compressed flat against the frame under a tape. Once the roof window has been fitted, the tape is ripped open via a pull tag allowing the foam to expand and fill the 20mm gap between the window frame and the roof.
Although this gap should be filled with insulation, Keylite Managing Director John Duffin explained that company research found that 97% of roof windows are sold without a separate thermal collar. Thanks to the expanding thermal collar, Keylite hopes to make installation quicker and ensure the thermal integrity of the roof is maintained. “It is our job as a manufacturer to close the gap and give complete integrity from design to build,” he continued.
Another feature designed to speed up the installation of the window is Flick-Fit brackets. Pre-fitted to the window frame, and featuring separate settings for tile or slate roofs, the brackets click into place to make fitting easier. To reduce any errors in installation, fitting instructions are included on the product. Having the bracket pre-fitted also removes the need for loose brackets and screws – which can easily be misplaced or lost onsite.
A further feature designed to speed up installation is the Sash hinge finger springs, which control the movement of the hinge to allow the installer to refit the sash into the frame in a smooth motion. Other features include a click fit hood designed to eliminate the number of screws required, and a design that allows a recessed fit as standard which enables the window to sit lower in the roof.
“It is our job as a manufacturer to close the gap and give complete integrity from design to build.”
Voted ‘Best Brand New Product of the Year’ in the Housebuilder 2017 Product Awards, the new Polar roof window is already being used by a number of housebuilders. Keylite has announced that it will be launching further enhancements to its full range of roof windows later in the year – look out for a product that can be opened and closed using an app and one which features an integrated solar panel.
With expansion of the new-build market set to continue, thanks to new features like its expanding thermal collar, Keylite is looking to make the most of the growing market.