PHPD speaks to Frank Buckley, managing director of Mumford & Wood Limited, to discover how timber windows are evolving to meet the demands of housebuilders.
Q: Alongside the current growth in the housebuilding sector are you witnessing a growth in demand for timber windows?
Yes, quite definitely and this is borne out by our order book which takes us confidently into the New Year and early spring.
The market remains dominated by PVCu compared with timber and aluminium clad timber. But the trend over recent years is a swing in favour of fine joinery such as ours. The timber sector is moving away from low-cost, site-finished windows to premium grade, made-to-order, double glazed and fully finished, high performance products which is where we excel.
The rise in self and custom built housing is also having an impact and those who have decided to remain in their properties and invest their money on extensions and upgrades rather than moving has presented a buoyant replacement market.
Q: Has the company been investing to meet the growing demand for timber windows and doors?
We have recently invested around £1.5m in our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility here in Tiptree, Essex where we make everything to order. Our extended facility was opened by The Right Honourable Priti Patel, MP and Minister of State for Employment, this summer
Investment in this computer controlled plant and machinery has enabled us to replace a great deal of the manual work required on straight forward products, so allowing our craftsmen and women to channel their efforts to more skilled work. This includes the production of special shapes such as bullseyes, triangular windows, bay windows, curved heads and curved on plan doors and windows that require specialist hand finishing and which, for our team, is both interesting and rewarding.
We are very proud of this achievement in our 60 year+ history so much so we have produced a Factory Tour CPD which will shortly be submitted to the RIBA for assessment and we invite architects, developers and private customers to Take the Tour with us. We also have a permanent site at The Building Centre where we are happy to meet specifiers by appointment.
These are exciting times and this considerable move underlines continued future confidence, market growth, increased output and investment in innovation for our brand.
Q: What are the key benefits of quality timber windows?
It’s important to understand the value of using the very best engineered timber and the part it has to play in fine joinery; using the correct timber has massive impact on the performance, aesthetics and longevity of the finished product, qualities for which the brand is synonymous.
Why? Because timber is the common sense, responsible option which sets a manufacturing benchmark in our industry. Timber has gone full circle and the warped and tired timber window should be a relic of the past.
At Mumford & Wood we use FSC certificated and sustainably sourced Siberian Larch to produce exceptional products in the coordinated Conservation range. This species, grown in the extreme temperatures of Siberia, is very slow growing and extremely dense. Natural resins make it highly resistant to decay resulting in a tough and durable timber which is capable of meeting the harshest of climatic conditions.
In the engineered timber process only the best pieces of wood are scanned to ensure a fault-free finish. Waste is reduced and what little is generated is recycled making it the greenest material ever. These prime layers of wood are glued, compressed and laminated together to form engineered timber.
Benefits include reduced waste by avoiding the sourcing of whole pieces of defect and knot-free solid timber while achieving an end product that is 60% stronger than its solid timber counterpart, perfect for windows and doors where security is a factor. The process of layering the timber in alternating grains reduces the expansion, contraction, swelling and warping characteristics associated with solid timber. The result is a perfect surface that ensures excellent paint adhesion and appearance, with the highest thermal and acoustic performance, and an extended life of the product.
Q: What levels of performance do your windows and doors achieve?
We manufacture our windows to the challenging standards of the British Woodworking Federation’s Wood Window Alliance (WWA) scheme which means that our factory-finished products are BRE A+ rated. Recent research identifies a life expectancy of 60 years or more. In 2014 the installation of A+ rated windows actually doubled which is highly encouraging.
Our high performance double glazed units achieve an excellent U-value of 1.3 W/m²K which outperforms Part L Building Regulations and set an industry benchmark.
Timber has natural acoustic qualities and we offer optional glass upgrades for those affected by high levels of external noise created by the proximity of roads and airports.
Security remains high on our agenda and more of the Conservation products are proudly carrying the Secured by Design accreditation to meet PAS24 standards. This qualifies them to join the Conservation Secure collection which offers SBD accredited sash windows, casements, bi-folding and entrance doors as well as French doorsets that all meet Approved Document Q for Security. We also glaze internally for improved aesthetics and as an added inconvenience for unwanted ‘visitors’.
Q: Different styles of property will require different window designs. Do you have any advice on how to achieve the right window for a property?
No other building material or product can affect the kerb side appeal of a property as the style of the windows and doors specified; it is essential to be led by the architectural style of the property. We are renown for traditional window designs, our most popular product being the Georgian sliding sash window. We work closely with architects and developers to achieve the best possible design aesthetic, modifying and adapting the standard product until it is perfect in every way.
The company offers a free CAD download facility from the website and specifiers can very quickly identify if the window design, mouldings and sight lines are right for the project or, if our input is required, we have a large team of qualified technicians to help with modifications to design and performance. We encourage this type of relationship which is valuable to both parties and we like to be involved in a project sooner rather than later.