Personally, I don't think you can beat the natural beauty of wooden doors and windows. Yes, they require regular maintenance, which is why more and more homeowners are switching to UPVC windows and doors.
Even the majority of UK house builders opt to install UPVC doors and windows from the off as they're practical, cost effective, help with energy efficiency and they’re quick/easy to install.
That said though, the last decade has seen somewhat of a shift though from full UPVC window systems to what are known as Composite Systems, which feature a mix different framing materials, especially at the more premium end of the housebuild market.
One popular finish is to now combine PVC with a dark grey aluminium capping. You pay more for it of course, but it is a very on trend colour/style, and it really elevates a property.
However, this month our focus is just on UPVC windows, and how to best clean them.
Here at Lazy Susan, garden furniture is our business, but we know a thing or two about the wider home and garden sector.
Plus, we want this blog to be a source of help and advice, not just about furniture, but anything connected to the home where we feel we can impart a little wisdom.
UPVC windows is one of those areas. Much like our Cast Aluminium Garden Furniture, it has the big advantage over timber that it's very easy to clean, and requires little to nothing in the way of maintenance.
It is weather-proof and can withstand the worst of whatever the British climate wants to throw at it.
It is the ideal choice for the UK where we can see everything from snow, heavy rain and even the odd occassional heatwave. It won't rot or split, there's no need to paint it, however, while it is low incredibly low maintenance, you do still need to keep it clean to keep it looking new.
What is UPVC?
However, before I get into the how to, I wanted to give a very brief explanation of what it is...
UPVC stands for Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride, and it is was designed to be a low-maintenance substitute for the traditional painted wood frames.
Commonly found in doors, patio/french/sliding doors, window frames and sills, it is paired with double glazing to provide a weather resistant frame that will require no painting to protect it from the elements.
It is also known/sold/styled as uPVC and PVCu but they are all the same material. That material is non-conductive, so your window frames will not transfer heat as easily as a timber frame, thus providing a more consistent internal temperature in the home.
Aluminium frames on the other hand, and we know all about this material at Lazy Susan, are stronger than UPVC. That means that you can have a sleeker frame, and a larger glass surface area due to the strength of the frames.
Powder-coated aluminium, much like the process/finish we coat our garden furniture, is extremely durable. However, I digress, that is another post.
Maintaining UPVC doors and windows
UPVC doors and windows are in many ways similar to our furniture when it comes to cleaning and maintenance too. They are designed to stand up to the elements, they are designed to not rust or rot. And whilst they won’t need a lick of paint every few years or so, a little light TLC will keep them looking their best.
In fact, all you really need to do is give your UPVC the occasional wipe with warm soapy water, but generally, repainting and weather-proofing is not a necessity like it is with wood.
It's also worth stressing at this point that we are talking about the outside of the home, where your windows and doors take most of the punishment from mother nature, but many of the methods/products we will discussed could be used inside too.
In some cases, older UPVC frames can start looking a little dull and mould/mildew can form on the surface. Conservatory roofs are a prime location for this. However, in such cases, there's nothing stopping you bringing it back to its original finish.
People tend to have their own grumbles when it comes to cleaning UPVC door and windows, but the important thing to remember is to never use any abrasive cleaning solutions or sponges with a nylon/scouring pad. You do NOT want to take off/scratch the top layer or 'shiny' finish. It scratches very easily, trust me!
There are specific cleaning products made especially for UPVC, and at Lazy Susan we would always advise you purchase/use them. When it comes to our garden furniture collection we will often recommend car cleaning products over proprietary garden furniture cleaners. They do a better job. With UPVC the opposite often holds true. There are some great products on the market.
DIY UPVC cleaning solution
However, I was also recently recommended a low cost environmentally sound way to clean dirty UPVC by a friend, and it has worked pretty well on my front door and window frames…
You simply mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts warm water, pour the mixture into an old cleaning spray bottle and spray it directly on to the UPVC. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then wipe with a clean soft microfibre cloth.
That said, I never let my frames get too dirty so they don’t need too much to get them clean. If you’ve maybe moved into a new home where they’ve been a little neglected for example, then I would definitely recommend a specialist solvent based UPVC cleaner. They’re readily available online and in stores.
I’ve also heard of people using baby wipes or their clothes laundry detergent to clean their UPVC without any problem. To be honest, you can clean most things with baby wipes, our children are no longer babies, but we still buy them as they are great for any delicate cleaning jobs.
Also, if your UPVC windows/doors have lost some of their glossy sheen, there's also some great products that can be applied to bring it back too.
If I had to nail my flag to the mast and name a good range of UPVC cleaning products, then I'd say take a look at Thompson's. It has been my go to for a number of years. Their UPVC Restorer is great for removing ingrained dirt without scratching and putting that all important shine back. Plus, they do these great wipes for when you just want to give your frames and doors a quick go over.
UPVC windows and doors cleaning mistakes
People are prone to making some mistakes when cleaning their UPVC windows and doors and these mistakes can be costly.
Some of the more common mistakes are as follows:
- Using the wrong cleaning agents on your UPVC doors and windows can cause serious damage, so only use products designed for the job in hand. If in doubt, test on an inconspicuous area.
- Attempting to paint UPVC Doors and windows is also a big no-no.
- Scratching UPVC door and window frames is a disaster as unlike timber is can't be filled and re-painted.
- Not carrying out regular maintenance on the moving parts of the frames with regular checks and lubrication.
So just keep your eye on them and when it comes to cleaning UPVC windows and doors, make sure you avoid harsh cleaning products. If unsure, always stick with the specialist cleaners and read the instructions for use carefully before you apply.
Take this advice on board and I guarantee your clean UPVC windows and doors will reward you by being pretty much trouble free for the duration of the time that you have them in your home.