How glazed rooms have changed over the last 30 years
We explore how garden room designs have developed and improved over the years, resulting in the exceptionally refined and modern glazed extension that we provide our customers with today.
In days gone by, uPVC conservatories were a highly popular way for homeowners to extend their properties with a new room that made them feel connected to their gardens more than ever before. These glazed structures certainly did the job, and throughout the 1980s and 90s, conservatories were being built in huge numbers. Most excitingly, they incorporated something what was a relatively unknown innovation in the UK at the time; double-glazing. Double-glazing gave people the opportunity to rid their homes of rattly windows and chilly draughts while keeping their homes warm, and now glazed conservatories were also an exciting new option.
Soon, conservatories had replaced the sight of old Victorian glass botanical rooms with their poorly fitted, rotting frames. They gave everyday families the chance to have an affordable, additional room added to their properties which were commonly used as sitting rooms for special occasions, or for hosting garden parties when the weather was not too warm or cold.
Unfortunately, these early day conservatories were not always comfortable places to spend time in. With so much glass, they turned into sweltering and stuffy rooms during the summer and freezing cold iceboxes during the winter. With their sliding doors that had a tendency to jam together in the heat and collect dirt, people started to realise that their conservatory, which was once the talk of the street, now had yellowing and brittle uPVC. If any of these conservatories from this era are still standing 30 years on, it is likely that they are looking old and tired by now! Glazing from this period had a tendency to collect condensation on the inside or fade to an unattractive grey colour due to the lead-based colour stabilisers. Not ideal at all!
These days, modern garden rooms and orangeries far exceed the performance of their counterparts from the old days. Structures will now include insulated roofs, high-tech glass, underfloor heating, and dynamic ventilation systems to result in a sophisticated and comfortable space in your home. Where garden rooms and orangeries have considerably less glazing than a conservatory, they are easier to manage when it comes to temperature control. By designing our timber garden room frames and window sashes with deep inside-to-outside profiles, we have learned how to improve the thermal performance through the wood components. This is a concept that was mastered by Scandinavians many years ago to help keep out the cold weather, with a standard frame depth of 115mm, which is what we use at Westbury today.
Another advanced feature to battle the temperatures can be found on the glazing itself. Modern-day extension designs can include glazing with a solar glare coating which will bounce the solar heat off the glass and away from your garden room or orangery. It is great for south-facing extensions which have high exposure to the sun, reducing glare whilst maintaining high light transmission and reducing heat build-up in the room.
Using modern, sustainable timber materials
By constantly developing our processes and researching the latest manufacturing technologies, we now design and build beautiful glazed extensions that perform to the highest of modern-day standards while still maintaining a heritage look. uPVC just does not carry the same elegance that you get from timber, unfortunately. By combining the best of today’s machinery with classic hand-finishing techniques, we create flush joints, sharp edges, and traditional mouldings that are considered an essential part of our British architectural heritage.
Today, we use a modified timber called Accoya, which is unrivalled in terms of being a durable and sustainable product. It has been Cradle to Cradle Gold certified since 2010, meaning that it is CO₂ neutral through its full life cycle, from its source in the forest and its production, all the way through to the end of its life when it has turned to waste. Over the years, we’ve found that it is a highly efficient alternative to materials such as tropical hardwood and energy-intensive construction materials such as aluminium, PVC, and WPC. The chemical process that takes place to create Accoya, called acetylation, gives it superior thermal insulation and the highest durability class possible, guaranteeing a long lifespan of up to 50 years.
Using Accoya means that we have the opportunity to paint our timber garden rooms and orangeries in a range of colours. Gone are the days of plain white extensions – now you can opt for whatever shade best suits your own personal tastes. As it is such a strong and durable engineered timber, Accoya does not twist or swell over time, meaning that your extension is stable and any painted coatings will not peel.
Paint products have come a long way themselves, and we use a water-based microporous paint system from Teknos. Mainly consisting of water and plastic, after the paint has been applied the water in the paint evaporates, leaving behind a highly durable and flawless layer of colour on the surface. This means that it is not a requirement to regularly sand down and prime your windows and doors before repainting. What’s more, our paints are environmentally friendly with VOC levels significantly below current and proposed legislative levels and are free of all heavy metal additives. They are exceptionally ‘clean’ so there is no need to use harsh white spirit to wash your brushes after painting.
In our factory, we pre-sand our products, which are then sprayed for a full finish, as this is approximately four times thicker and more effective than a brush-painted layer. Three coats are applied with de-nib between coats which should result in a layer measuring 180 microns – and yes, we absolutely do check this, as it results in a superior paint finish and optimum protection.
What we’ve learnt over the last 30 years
In the early days of conservatories, they simply looked like glass and uPVC attachments, randomly fixed to the side of your home – very much looking like its own separate part of the house.
Over the years, we have continued to develop our knowledge and have an exceptional understanding of different house styles; from listed period and heritage properties to new builds. We understand that a garden room will need to be designed in a certain way to suit the interiors of, say, a country cottage with small interior rooms. However, an orangery for a large New-England style property will need to suit the larger architectural proportions. With the opportunities for bespoke design, modern day orangeries or garden rooms can be designed with the family’s needs in mind – taking their lifestyles, hobbies, and preferences into account to create beautiful spaces for them to dine, entertain, and relax in.
Considering the environment and making eco-friendly choices is also something that has changed and developed in design over time. Architects, developers, and homeowners now expect sustainable options on the market, where it was once considered a ‘hippy’ concept in the seventies. For the last 30 years, reducing our carbon footprint across our design and build process has moved to the very front of our priorities, as we believe that every single business has a responsibility to provide their customers with sustainable products and services by default. We have looked at every aspect of our business, from the number of deliveries we make to the way we recycle timber cut offs from our factory. You can find out more about how we design carbon-neutral extensions here.
Advancements in machinery and technology
All of the structural timber frames, windows and doors are manufactured by our experienced in-house team of artisans in our UK-based factory in Essex, following a highly refined and approved process from the sourcing of materials to applying the last spray of paint.
We use high-tech machines that will cut pieces from timber with accurate precision. All timber components are pre-assembled, checked, painted, and glazed at the workshop, before being packed and taken to site to be installed by our experienced fitters. We have learnt that this approach ensures maximum efficiency for us and minimum disruption to our clients. We have always understood the importance of investing in high-tech production equipment, and this played a big part in the way we developed our designs.
John Mumford is a pioneering leader in the industry, working at the forefront of product development and design. He was the first in the industry to produce the fully factory-finished, double glazed sash window. Innovation at its finest!
Because we offered John the opportunity to work on his designs with the very latest and advanced production technology we had in our factory, he was able to design bespoke, sustainable timber products that were traditional yet energy efficient and sustainable, which we use in our glazed orangeries and garden rooms.