Seal your windows and doors to keep the cold at bay

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With winter well on the way, it is important to prepare your home for the cold and wet conditions that are to follow. Recent statistics have revealed that windows and doors account for up to 20 per cent of heat loss in a property so these areas need to be properly insulated. With this in mind, Lili Wang, product manager at IronmongeryDirect, looks at the insulation products available for windows and doors that can help to reduce heat loss and ultimately lower your energy bills.

As temperatures drop, many homeowners inevitably find their thoughts drifting towards how to keep themselves warm at night.

One option is to crank up the thermostat but this is expensive, inefficient and not at all environmentally friendly. A much better solution is to make sure that the parts of your house that lose heat most quickly are fully insulated. This generally means sealing your windows and doors.

When building, renovating or converting a house, it’s easy to overlook the importance of how well your windows and doors were installed or whether or not they are being maintained appropriately. But ensuring the seals between your windows and doors have been done properly, and have not degraded over time, will make a huge difference. It will make your home warmer, greener, less draughty and cheaper to run.

As it happens, weatherstripping and caulking are relatively quick procedures that require little upfront expenditure. A good tradesmen will be able to tell you exactly what needs doing and why, and many may already have the necessary equipment in their toolbox to enable an immediate start.

Weatherstripping

This technique involves placing a seal around openings, such as windows and doors, to keep out the elements.

There are a variety of companies offering weatherstripping products on the market, but one of the most popular brands is Aquamac. Joinery seals such as the AQ21 Aquamac Seal are made from water-repellent foam, which means they are unaffected by mould, mildew or rot. They are ideal for sealing timber windows and doors and as long as they are installed correctly, they will continue to look smart around the home and do their job effectively for years.

However, sometimes windows and doors are better suited to specialist weatherstripping products.

Vertical sash windows, for example, are renowned for having gaps that can suck the heat out of your home and make rooms very draughty. An additional problem is that sealing the space between two windows halves can be tricky because they are liable to rip off any glued-on window seals when opened.

To counter these issues, you may want to consider weatherstripping products that are designed specifically with vertical sash windows in mind. Products such as the Exitex Plain Pile Carrier help to retain heat and reduce draughts, but as an added bonus the optional pile (or brush) on top can also stop your windows rattling in high winds.

Inward opening doors are another feature that may require a specialist weatherproofing product. This type of door can let a lot of cold air into your home if not secured properly, so it’s worth ensuring the extremities are as airtight as possible.

The Exitex Low Height Macclex Threshold is one such product that fits the bill because it offers a double seal for extra protection at the base of your door. Threshold seals in general are also quick to install, making them equally suited to both brand new homes and houses that are being renovated.

Sealants

Spreading sealant around the edges of windows and doors is another handy and inexpensive technique that will help to keep your home warm. A good tradesmen will be able to recommend which sealant is best suited to your individual needs, but it’s always useful to have an overview of what’s available on the market so you can steer them in the right direction.

In truth, there are lots of different sealants out there that are designed for specific conditions and materials, including single component Modified Silicone (MS) Polymer-based sealants, low modulus silicone sealants, high modulus silicone sealants and neutral core sealants.

To start at the beginning, MS Polymer-based sealants tend to be the best all-rounder because they are able to bond a huge array of construction materials. So whether your windows and doors are wooden, plastic or metallic, there’s an excellent chance they will fit the bill. Indeed, these sealants are particularly noted for their ability to stick to non-porous surfaces, meaning they won’t need to be reapplied again and again on slippery materials.

Now let’s move onto low modulus silicone sealants. This category, which includes products such as the Bond It Ulti-Mate Builders Silicone, is easy to apply and extremely flexible. As a result, it is perfect for windows and doors that are in constant use.

At the other end of the spectrum, high modulus silicone sealants are firmer and much more rigid. While this means they’re not so well-suited to windows and doors that are being constantly opened and closed, the relative robustness makes them a good choice for both internal and external areas even where the conditions are likely to be quite humid, such as a bathroom. A good example of this type of product is the Bond It Multi-Mate Multi-Purpose Silicone.

This brings us to neutral cure silicone sealants. Sealants belonging to this category combine with atmospheric moisture to form a durable yet flexible rubber seal that can be used in a variety of settings. They give you a high-quality finish on metals and plastics, although it’s worth noting that some aren’t appropriate for porous materials.

Signed, sealed and delivered

There are a lot of factors that you need to consider before commissioning a tradesman to seal your windows and doors.

Obviously you need to think carefully about what materials you’d like them to seal. You also need to factor in whether or not the windows and doors are internal or external, and even if they’re likely to be in constant use. Your budget and the amount of time you have to dedicate to the work also needs to be taken into consideration.

Of course, a knowledgeable tradesman will be able to guide you on what sealants would be most suited to each location but they’ll be better placed to come to the right decision if you have the facts ready for them from the outset.

Once you’ve taken the plunge and got your windows and doors sealed, though, you should immediately notice the difference. Your rooms will be cosier and less prone to draughts. And in the long run, your heating bills will drop dramatically. All of which will make you glad that you invested a small amount of time and money to properly insulate your home.

For more information, please visit www.IronmongeryDirect.co.uk

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