Chilly draughts, leaks when it rains, and condensation on the glass are signs that windows and glass doors have seen better days.
Now winter is here, any problems are likely to be even more noticeable. So if the damp, chilly weather has prompted thoughts of upgrading your windows or doors, here are our expert tips to get the right double glazing solution for your home.
Visit our double glazing reviews to find out what thousands of customers thought about the companies they used.
1 Do you really need new double glazing?
You might assume that the only remedy for your tired windows or doors is to shell out for new double glazing. But it might be possible to repair the units or to replace only the faulty parts.
For example, if the frames of existing double glazed windows are still in good condition but the glass is ‘blown’ (the seals have failed), you may be able to just get the glass replaced, which could be much cheaper.
If your goal is to reduce draughts and noise, secondary glazing might be an easier and more cost-effective choice, particularly if you live in a period property, conservation area or a managed block of flats, where you’re likely to face more restrictions.
Secondary glazing is effectively a separate, internal window fitted on the inside of an existing single or double-glazed window.
If you’re not sure whether double glazing is the right choice, consult some experts to find out about all your options – such as installers that have been vetted and approved by Which? Trusted Traders.
2 Research window styles and materials
A little research before you approach companies will help you get more accurate quotes, and having a clear idea of what you need will mean you’re less likely to fall victim to upselling.
If you’re opting for new double glazing, read our guide to choosing double glazed windows and doors to find out more about the various styles and materials.
You could also visit companies’ showrooms, go to tradeshows or take a look at what other people living in your area have chosen for their homes.
3 Consider energy efficiency and new technology
If you’re investing in double glazing to last you for the next decade or more, it might be worth splashing out on a few enhancements.
This includes more common innovations such as energy-efficiency measures, safety glass and more secure locks.
But you could also consider more novel (and pricier) additions, such as acoustic glass, self-cleaning glass or solar-control glass.
4 Avoid damp and condensation
New double glazing can sometimes cause internal condensation and damp. This is because homes need some ventilation; energy-saving windows and doors can stop moisture in the air from escaping.
Trickle vents in the frames of your double glazing can help avoid this, but you’ll need to weigh this up against potential noise and draughts from the vents. A double glazing expert will be able to advise.
Find out more about dealing with damp and condensation in your home.
5 Get several double glazing quotes
When we surveyed more than 2,000 people who had bought double glazing in the past 10 years*, a surprisingly high minority had only got one quote – 19% of those who used independent retailers and 25% of those who used a national brand.
We recommend always getting at least three quotes before making a decision.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate – you’ll be in a stronger position if you’ve got multiple quotes. And resist the urge to buy on the spot if the salesperson uses pressure-selling tactics, for example if they claim the price is only available for a very limited time.
6 Find out more about the company
Don’t rely on testimonials on the firm’s website or in brochures – read independent reviews too and speak to any friends or neighbours who have used the double glazing company.
Try to be objective when reading customer reviews. Do glowing reviews sound genuine? What are the reasons for any negative comments, and has the trader tried to resolve the issue?
Look at pictures of the company’s previous work and, if possible, go to see examples in person.
If you’re looking at independent double glazing installers, we’d recommend using a company that’s been around for at least 10 years. You can use Companies House to check this.
At Which? Trusted Traders we’ve done the hard work for you. All companies listed have been assessed by our trading standards professionals and are subject to credit and background checks.
7 Use a registered double glazing installer
Find a double glazing installer that is registered with a competent person scheme, such as Fensa or Certass.
If the company is a member, as all those approved by Which? Trusted Traders are, it means the installer can certify that their work complies with building regulations and notify your local council of this.
If not, you’ll need to pay for the council’s building control team to inspect the installation and you might end up paying for more work if any alterations are needed.
8 Protect your deposit
Most companies will ask you for a deposit when ordering your double glazing. Make sure your money is protected in case your installation company goes bust before the project is completed.
Check that the company you’re using offers deposit protection insurance and find out how much it covers you for before you make a payment.
If the total cost of your double glazing will be between £100 and £30,000, paying the deposit with a credit card protects you under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
9 Check the warranty
Double glazing firms are now required to provide an insurance-backed guarantee with every installation. This means that your double glazing is covered by a warranty even if the business stops trading by the time you come to claim.
Ask your supplier about the insurance-backed guarantee and find out which company is providing the cover, in case you ever need to make a claim.
You should also check exactly what’s covered under the warranty and how long it will last.
10 Know your rights
If you have concerns or questions at any stage of the process, speak to the company sooner rather than later to try to resolve the issues.
If you experience any problems, read up on your rights when buying double glazing and find out what you can do to get things put right or to get your money back.
*In September 2018, we asked 2,155 Which? members about their experiences of buying double glazing in the past 10 years.