Loft conversions are becoming increasingly popular, especially as research has shown it can add up to 22% extra value onto a home. Planning permission has increased by 60% since 2012, and loft extensions are the most popular reason. As such, when planning a home and the loft bedroom area, roof windows are an important consideration.
Considerations such as safety, energy efficiency and durability are more often discussed, and rightly so – however, maintenance requirements should also be considered.
Maintenance is crucial to ensure not only the aesthetic of the window remains intact, but also to preserve its watertightness and any electrical working parts, such as electrical openers.
So, what should be considered for maintenance to ensure it is easy and straightforward for many years?
Ditch the dirt
Dirt build-up occurs due to a range of issues – while rainfall is often blamed, this is a common misconception. Rainwater contains almost no particles, so it cannot make the window any dirtier. The most common reason for dirt on the outside of the windows is caused by airborne contaminants.
Depending on your environment, pollen, windswept dirt from vehicles on the road and dirt from animals such as birds or squirrels are the culprits for unclean windows, which make them unsightly and affect the light coming in.
Manufacturers have sought to overcome this issue, with glazing units that can provide an unparalleled reduction of dirt build-up on the external surface of the window.
These units have a microscopic titanium dioxide applied directly to the surface of the glass. When exposed to sunlight, the coating uses a photocatalytic process to break down and disintegrate organic dirt. Then, when it rains, instead of leaving streaks in any settled dirt, it is simply washed away.
In addition, the glazing tends to dry quicker, reducing the chances of water streaks and leaving you with beautifully clear windows without the need for cleaning.
Of course, if the windows need to be cleaned in between, then roof windows that can rotate up to 165° are ideal, for a simple, easy clean with water and a cloth.
Taking care of the window frame, particularly wooden ones, is important to ensure the timber does not become affected by damp, which could cause it to swell and become deformed – creating damage that is costly to fix.
External factors that can cause this include rain, wind, freezing temperatures and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Internal moisture can also be a problem, such as issues with high humidity and condensation occurring on the inner surface of the window.
Choosing a product with excellent durability is cost-effective in the long-run as it greatly extends the time between replacement, and will ensure little to no maintenance – creating peace of mind for the many years you’ll be living in the home.
Therefore, when specifying a timber window, the main areas that should be considered are the materials used, the coating and the quality of the build. A favoured material would be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified Nordic pine as it has a naturally high density and excellent durability due to the harsh winter conditions the trees grow in.
The timber should also undergo a treatment process – such as demoisturising the wood to protect against deformation of the frame, and a specialist double- layer coating that creates a more durable surface and significantly lowers maintenance requirements.
When the timber does need relacquering, it should be simple to coat the wood with an even layer of any type of water-based lacquer – though how often you need to do this will depend on the humidity of the room; if the window is installed in a room with high humidity, it will need more regular relacquering.
If the frame does require cleaning, it’s very simple to do so with warm, soapy water – though, do bear in mind that too frequent cleaning may increase the need for relacquering.
In addition, if an electrical opener has also been installed, these are very easy to clean using a damp cloth and standard detergents. It is recommended that the chain is greased once a year to keep it running smoothly.
Concerns in the gutter
The gutter around most roof windows will not require any extra maintenance or care. In order to keep it functioning properly, and ensure any external roller shutters that are installed last for many years, all that is required is a periodic clean of the gutter and the area around the roller.
This periodic cleaning can be done at the same time as the cleaning of the rest of the gutters on the house.
Roof windows can be a costly investment, and as such are expected to last in a property for many years. By selecting a roof window that has low-maintenance requirements, lifetime costs and time can be saved.