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Thomas Sanderson

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An all year Conservatory


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Of all the questions I get asked - the above is probably the most common. Sadly I'm afraid I'm often asked this question by people who have already had their conservatory built. They have realised too late that whilst a conservatory or sunroom can be a wonderful SUMMER ROOM it does not always prove that way in the winter months. Sure they have put in some heating - but they still suffer badly with condensation and general damp. What can they do? or what should they have done?

Far too often Conservatories and Sunrooms are sold as though they are the same as brick built extensions in terms of insulation and use. I am speaking personally when I say this - but I'm afraid this is just not the case. Here in the UK (and most places in the world) we have BUILDING REGULATIONS which apply to the building of extensions etc. These regulations do not at present usually apply to conservatories (the notable exceptions to this are conservatories covering more than 30 square metres and any situation where you have a knock through from your main living space with no partitioning doors in between). Building Regulations, amongst other things, stipulate various minimum standards for insulation which frankly your "typical" conservatory with standard double glazing and 16 mm polycarbonate will not comply with.

To have anything close to the insulation and therefore the all year round usability of a brick built extension you will need to consider some of the extras/enhancements below.

I also am enclosing a little information on the many additional design extras you can have.

Of all the "extras" I could recommend then Pilkington "K" glass would be No 1.

Pilkington "K" Glass: This glass varies from normal Pilkington clear glass in that one side of the glass has a special metal coating, technically known as a low emissitivity, or Low E. coating. This microscopic metal coating (which is almost indistinguishable from normal clear glass) allows short-wave radiation, like sunlight through, but reflects long-wave radiation, such as heat from fires and radiators back into your conservatory making it easier to keep warm. As the Low E. coating on the glass actually makes the surface warmer to the touch, condensation is also reduced. We especially recommend this option if you decide to have a double-glazed roof.

Argon filled Units: If you are looking for the ultimate in glass insulated units you should seriously consider adding "gas" or Argon filled units to your specification. Argon combined with Pilkington "K" or Low E glass is just about as good as it gets in terms of insulation. We are now talking as good as or better than most brick built extensions in terms of insulation. Not particularly expensive in my experience (only 10 -15 per sealed unit in the UK) and well worth the extra expense. Please note, I only really recommend Argon filled units when combined with "K" or Low E glass. On its own the benefits are only marginal.

25 mm Polycarbonate: Most standard conservatories come with 16mm polycarbonate(a few only come with 10 mm polycarbonate). For a little extra you can upgrade to the better insulating option of 25 mm polycarbonate. With its six skins and reinforcing webbing, it provides perhaps the best insulating roof option for conservatories today. For the technically minded, it has an approximate "U" value of 1.6 as opposed to 2.3 for 16 mm polycarbonate. It is available in clear, bronze tint and opal options.

Glass Roofs: An essential for those of us who like to see the stars at night! A fair amount more expensive and much heavier than polycarbonate. You will also almost certainly need some form of shading. That said, it is no doubt one of the best options - very classy and inspiring. I especially recommend the Pilkington "K" option with this. There is also the option of "anti-sun" glass for that "tinted" effect.

Leaded Lites Designs: My favourite enhancement. Not necessary to put all over, but it does look superb in the top opening vents. Available in diamond and rectangular lead designs as well as a host of more traditional designs such as Queen Anne or Elizabethan. You can also consider "coloured lites" options if you want something just a little bit different. (Stained glass type design).

Georgian Designs: You can fit a whole host of "Georgian" styles to your conservatory. From the more usual rectangular Georgian bar design to Georgian sweeps (arches), gothic arches, cathedral arches and specialist one off designs to match listed buildings etc.

Locking Systems: The standard locks on most conservatory windows and doors are espagnolette multi-point locks (including night vent position) on windows and a five point lock for doors. There are many additional options including shootbolt locks, SAC bolt locking, entry guard, hook and shoot locks etc. Ask your supplier for further information or specify this on your quotation request.

Coloured Frame Options: What colour do you want? You name it and we almost certainly can supply it. Standard colours for PVCu and aluminium are white, whilst for hardwood it is a natural stain option such as mahogany, walnut or light oak. You can, however, have, hardwood already primed in green, cream and teak plus a whole host of options to your specification. PVCu in mahogany woodgrain and cherry oak woodgrain styles is also increasingly popular. Additionally, both PVCu and aluminium can be specially coloured in red, blue, green, black and orange! (and that's just a few of the options!)

The above only really touches the surface on some of the options available. From the most modern enhancements to the more traditional replications - they are all now available. Make sure to ask your supplier about them all. Don't let the salesperson put you off - often they will only receive commission on the cost of the basic conservatory and will not want to promote anything which increases your cost (and your ultimate satisfaction) and perhaps lose them the sale. YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER! IT'S YOU THAT HAS TO LIVE WITH THE RESULT.

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