Double glazing has been the leading choice of replacement windows for years now. These days, however, secondary windows are prompting homeowners to rethink their options – and with good reason.
Secondary glazing is a cost-effective solution for insulating and sound-proofing your home. The windows are lightweight, easy to fit and do not require much maintenance.
Sliding windows may not be able to match double glazing windows in terms of aesthetics, but they do have a certain amount of charm and elegance. They are also unobtrusive and come in a wide variety of styles.
Secondary glazing is an ideal solution for homeowners that cannot afford to install double glazing windows, or want an effective barrier that muffles noise associated with busy streets.
They are also recommended by the English Heritage and Listed Property Owners Club as the most suitable option for listed buildings and conservation areas which are not given planning permission.
What is Secondary Glazing?
Secondary glazing are independent windows that sit on the inside of your house behind your existing windows. They are usually slim-line and made from aluminium.
They act as a reinforcement against cold and external noise without having to replace your existing windows. However, if you choose to, the panels can be removed during the summer months so you let more cool air into the house.
The range of secondary windows available on the UK market are designed to cater for all types and sizes of window. You can find:
- Horizontal sliders
- Vertical sliders
- Top hung windows
- Side hung windows
- Double-side hung windows
- Lift out panels
- Removable door panels
In effect, secondary windows perform the same job as double glazing windows – but without the expense or the hassle!
Secondary windows are also the best choice for homeowners that live in listed buildings.
Under the Article 4 Directive, it is not possible to get planning permission to alter the fabric of listed buildings, and those type of properties are often draughty. Secondary windows give you all the benefits of double glazing without disturbing the aesthetics.
Cost of Secondary Glazing
The actual cost of installing secondary glazing depends on how many windows you need and the type of material you choose. If noise reduction is a priority and you want soundproof glass, this also increases the price.
The following prices are examples of secondary glazing together with installation costs. Single windows are around £300-£320 each:
|Number of Windows||Materials||Labour Costs|
|Bungalow – 5 windows||£1500||£300|
|Terraced House – 9 windows||£2800||£440|
|Semi-Detached – 10 windows||£3000||£680|
|Detached House – 14 windows||£4000||£900|
Secondary glazing is not too difficult to install yourself. If you’re handy with a drill, you could save yourself significant costs.
Benefits of Secondary Glazing
Retain More Heat
Secondary glazing helps to retain heat by adding an extra layer of glass behind your primary window. The glass not only acts as a barrier but also creates a gap which holds air.
As a consequence, you reduce the amount of warm air that escapes and prevents draughts coming in from outside. The long-term benefit is that secondary glazing helps you cut costs on your fuel bills and successfully reduce your carbon footprint.
For homeowners that live in busy streets with a lot of noise coming from outside, secondary glazing offers the best solution.
Because secondary glazing sits behind your existing windows, it not only provides an additional barrier, but the gap is also wider which helps reduce noise. In this regard, secondary glazing performs better than double glazing.
The wider the cavity is between the two panes, the better the windows are for cutting out the sound. Noise reduction can be improved further still be installing secondary glazing with sound-reducing glass.
It’s worth bearing in mind that some glass types are better than others for muffling noise levels. For example, laminated glass is 6.4mm thick and is a good option, whilst Acoustic Stadip glass is 6.8mm thick and reduces external noise by as much as 75-80%.
The best option is glazed Heavy Duty glass which drowns out 90% of external noise and significantly contributes to improving energy efficiency as well.
If you want to know more, check out the users reviews of secondary windows on mumsnet.com.
Differences Between Double Glazing v Secondary Glazing
Whilst secondary glazing and double glazing more or less perform the same job, there are some significant differences to consider before deciding which is the best option for you.
Double glazing is primarily designed to provide temperature control. They are made from two sheets of glass that have a gap between them that acts as extra insulation. The gap is either a vacuum or filled with Argon gas which slows the movement of air from outside.
Subsequently, double glazing windows keep the heat generated from your central heating inside the house, and cold air on the outside. In summer, they keep out the heat from the sun and keep your house cool.
Secondary glazing also retains heat by adding a second layer of glass behind your existing single-glazed windows. Whilst double glazing windows are marketed as the superior option, this is not necessarily the case.
The insulation benefits of double glazing can sometimes be overstated. Although they offer enhanced energy efficiency and comfort, not all uPVC windows outperform secondary windows.
High-end double glazing windows are noticeably better. It is estimated the top-quality double glazing perform twice as well. The top-tier prices are also noticeably more expensive.
If your primary concern is noise, secondary glazing has better soundproofing qualities than double glazing. The wider gap is better equipped at muffling external noise.
As a matter of fact, secondary windows have been described as “far superior” to uPVC windows when it comes to noise reduction.
Secondary windows also have another advantage over their rival. When you fit double glazing, the existing windows are replaced. This means building work has to be carried out, and you have to dispose of your old windows.
In comparison, secondary windows slot in behind your existing windows and is a relatively straightforward DIY job. As a result, you also save money on installation fees because double glazing should really be fitted by a professional installer.
Subsequently, secondary windows are a good option for people that rent property. Because they can easily be removed, you can take them with you when you move house.
Secondary Glazing Review
In general, secondary glazing receives positive reviews. Whether you choose secondary glazing over double glazing really depends on your main priority for installing new windows.
Secondary glazing is clearly the cost-effective solution for noise reduction, but if you want replacement windows to help reduce heat, high-end double glazing can be twice as effective.
Having said that, fitting double glazing in six rooms will cost over £5000 for a top of the range uPVC windows. Secondary glazing provides a less expensive alternative and is a better option than standard double glazing windows.
Before deciding which windows to install in your home, we recommend you look for at least three quotes. We are connected with hundreds of secondary glazing dealers and double glazing across the UK, so why not take advantage of our no-obligation service and request a free quote.