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Home & garden.

24 September 2021

How to buy double glazing

Avoid being overcharged for double glazing by reading our expert guide to getting quotes, side-stepping sales tactics and finding a reputable double glazing company.
SI
Sarah Ingrams
Double glazing salesman talking to customer 478482

Double glazing salespeople have a dubious reputation. But knowing their tactics and being one step ahead means you're far more likely to pay the right price. 

That's why we've spoken to experts and homeowners to get their advice on how to find the right double glazing company and get the best quote. You can click on the links below to head down to the section you're interested in.

To find out how much double glazing is likely to cost for your home, visit our Double glazing costs guide. Costs vary, depending on whether you use a local or national company, how many windows you want installed, and the type of window and frame.

Before you approach double glazing firms: what you need to do

Before you approach any double glazing firms, make sure you have a good idea of what you want. You’ll be better informed and more in control, plus any quotations can be more tailored to your specific needs so you’ll get a better idea of the cost.

Trade shows or consumer home exhibitions are a good place to start. You’ll be able to see a wide range of double-glazed windows and doors in one place.

Look at the homes in your area, too. What kind of windows do similar properties have? Is there a type that’s common in your street? At some point you may want to sell your home, so make sure the style you pick won’t put off potential buyers.

Coloured glass double glazing windows

Finding a reputable double glazing company

There are a few options when it comes to buying double glazing. You could use:

  • a well-known, recognised glazing company, such as Anglian, Everest or Safestyle;
  • a well-known DIY brand, such as B&Q, Screwfix or Wickes;
  • an independent double glazing company in your local area;
  • an independent builder or joiner. 

You're more likely to go for the last option if you're doing a home renovation, such as building an extension or converting your loft. If you're already working on a building project, your tradesperson may be able to organise and buy double glazing for you, possibly at a trade price.

For double glazing companies, the highest customer score in our survey was 81%. Rated lowest was a big-name brand with 54%.* We also reveal how independent and local firms compare with household names in our independent double glazing companies section.

One customer of an independent firm said:

I used a friendly local supplier who was very helpful, able to offer the products I wanted at a reasonable price and, crucially, I knew I could easily contact them in the future if anything went wrong.

Alongside independents and Everest, we also spoke to customers of seven other brands, including Anglian and Safestyle. You can compare all the ratings, both overall and for important sales and installation factors, in our double glazing company reviews

Choosing a double glazing company

The most common reason customers gave for choosing their double glazing firm was that it wasn't pushy or intimidating. Good reputation was an important factor across all companies in our survey, too.

Being local was also important to those choosing an independent firm, while offering a discount was a bigger factor for customers of the biggest double glazing brands.

Find out whether you should use an independent double glazing firm or keep reading for tips to help reveal whether you're getting a genuine discount.

Top choosing tips from double glaziers

We've spoken to independent double glazing companies from around the UK to get the inside scoop on how to find the best company and avoid an unscrupulous double glazing firm.

Do your background research on the company

For many people, one of the key reasons for choosing the company was because it had a good reputation. 

We'd recommend using a company that's been around for 10 years or more – you can use Companies House to find out. This will also tell you whether it's in a healthy financial position, so less likely to go bust midway through the work. 

Check whether its owners have changed the company name or it has been liquidated at any point. If so, it could be a sign that it's unstable or not a reputable company.

It’s also worth talking to friends and neighbours who have recently had double glazing installed, especially if they have similar properties.

We've done the hard work for you – all of our Which? Trusted Traders have been through rigorous background checks, so you can be assured they're trustworthy.  You can find a reliable trader by using our search tool below.

Check out previous work

Ask to see real examples of previous work. Don't just rely on testimonials on the firm's website or in brochures. 

If possible, speak to its customers about their experiences and go to see the work for yourself, instead of only looking at photos.

Get a number of quotes

A third of people in our survey said they only considered one double glazing company. This proportion was the same if they used an independent firm, and between 20% and 63% if they used a big brand.*

We wouldn't recommend relying on just one quote – get at least three, if you can. This will give you a better idea of what a reasonable price is. It will also give you a feel for different companies' approaches to help you find what you're most comfortable with.

I got quotes from about six or seven different companies. The prices varied wildly. The products on offer appeared very similar.

We'd also suggest discussing the technological benefits of different systems when getting your quote or visiting a showroom. That way, you can see how knowledgeable and professional the company or trader seems. 

One homeowner said:

We spoke to several companies and obtained quotes. The decision was made based on impression formed and their responses to our questions.

It's worth keeping in mind that if you do agree to a contract with a trader on the spot, you won't have the right to cancel once they have left your home. You can find out more about this in our section on double glazing contracts.

Check their contact details and availability

Great tradesmen are rarely available immediately, so if one has a totally clear diary, this could be a bad sign. It's also worth checking their contact details and paperwork. They should freely give their phone number (preferably landline and mobile), full company address and email.

Don't use a cold caller

Offering to install double glazing was the second most-common tactic used by cold callers when we spoke to people in June/July 2018 (1,645 Which? members).

Of course, not all traders or companies knocking on your door will be scammers. But we would recommend turning these people away – you'll have no idea about the quality of their workmanship or whether they’re offering the right price. 

If you're tempted by an offer, take the trader's details without agreeing to anything. Then, in your own time, research the company and get a few quotes or second opinions.

All Which? Trusted Traders must sign up to our code of conduct, which prohibits cold calling and doorstepping. They're also regularly checked to ensure they're meeting all our standards.

Use BM Trada, Certass and Fensa-registered glaziers

Choose a double glazing installer that is registered with a competent person scheme, such as BM Trada, Certass or Fensa. Membership means that companies can self-certify that their work complies with building regulations. 

It also means the work is covered by an insurance-backed guarantee if it's not compliant or the company goes bust.

An insurance-backed guarantee is issued by the double glazing firm. It means that the warranty they give on your installation (which could last 10 years, for example) will be honoured by the insurer should there be a problem down the line and you find that the company has gone bust.

In England and Wales, new and replacement windows must meet a certain level of energy efficiency. You need to get a certificate to show your windows comply with these regulations. An installer registered with one of the self-certification schemes will issue this certificate for you – otherwise your local council will need to come and check the work.

For the Channel Islands, Northern Ireland and Scotland, contact your local authority for information on applicable regulations.

It's also worth looking for an installer that's part of an Alternate Dispute Resolution scheme. Being signed up to one should make things a lot easier if anything goes wrong or there is a dispute. For example, the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman (DGCOS) is well regarded in the glazing industry.

You can find out more about this on our your rights when buying double glazing page. 

All our Which? Trusted Traders automatically become part of an ADR when they sign up to the scheme. 

Find out about payment and insurance

Before you agree to any work, ask the firm about insurance. What happens if there’s accidental damage to your property or your neighbour’s car, for example?

Before work begins, agree a schedule of payments. This should be in writing in the contract. It’s not unusual to be asked for an upfront instalment, especially if it’s a big job.

Double glazing quotes and side-stepping sales tactics

Not feeling feel pressurised or intimidated was the most important factor for homeowners when choosing a double glazing company.* Some 61% said that this was a reason why they chose the company they did. It was a particularly big reason for customers of independent brands (73% noted it), although less key for those who chose a big brand (for example, only 22% of Everest's customers said this was a factor in their decision).

We've also heard about instances of double glazing salespeople quoting a high price to begin with, and then dropping it over the course of their sales visit to encourage you to sign on the spot. 

One person said:

We had at least three companies out to give us a quote. One we discarded because the sales representative stayed in the house for hours and kept reducing the price to try and get us to sign that evening.

A quarter of people who considered more than one double glazing brand said that they were offered an on-the-spot discount that was only valid if they accepted immediately, or on the same day, by a company they didn't end up buying from.

This practice appears to be industry-wide, as customers from all the big-name companies we've reviewed – including Anglian, Everest and Safestyle – reported this happening to them.

Many people told us that they tried negotiating with their chosen double glazing firm and some found that their quote dropped by thousands of pounds during a sales pitch.

Those who chose big brands were the most likely to negotiate - for example, 75% said they negotiated with Anglian, compared with 35% of customers of independent firms.

People also told us about feeling rushed to make a decision -  in our survey this was the most frequently reported problem with buying double glazing. 

It's important to take the time you need to make a big financial decision so that you're confident with your choice of company and comfortable with the price.

Which? members can log in now to see examples of customers' experiences with the big-name companies, typical price cuts, as well as tips on using your own tactics so that you can see what to avoid and how to get the best price. 

If you're not yet a Which? member, join Which? - this will also give you access to our Double glazing companies rated.

Opening a double glazed window

What should I look for in a double glazing contract?

Once you have chosen a company, it's legally obliged to provide you with certain information in writing, including a description of the goods/services agreed, the total price (inclusive of any additional charges known at the start), when it will be provided and your rights to cancel – all of which it must adhere to.

However, in some circumstances the company isn’t bound to provide as much detail, and you won’t have the right to cancel. This applies if you’re getting made-to-measure double glazing, or if you enter into an ‘on-premises contract’ – which includes where a trader has discussed the contract with you at your home, but you agree to enter into this sometime later. 

What the company does provide you with is still legally binding, so ask for as much as possible. Check your contract for the following, or ask the firm:

  • Are there penalties if the work is later?
  • Would prolonged bad weather affect the job?
  • What materials will be used and who will supply them?
  • Will you use outsourced labour?
  • What happens if any of the work doesn't meet a satisfactory standard?

If you’re unhappy with the answers provided, you may be better off hiring someone else. 

Visit our page on your rights when buying double glazing page to find out more about what you should get in place with a contract to protect you, as well as what to do if something goes wrong.

Should I tell my home insurance company about new double glazing or doors?

You must tell your insurer about any changes to your home’s structure, habitability, security or value. Adding new doors or windows may help make your home more secure, for example. Changes like this may affect your buildings and contents insurance premiums.

You don’t need to tell your insurer about minor or cosmetic changes, however.

DIY double glazing

Fitting your own double glazing can save money, provided you know what you're doing. 

Just 1% of customers in our survey said they installed their double glazing themselves. The vast majority of them said they consider themselves to be confident and experienced with most DIY tasks, and some have fitted double glazing before. Even so, a couple found the job difficult.

Get it professionally measured if possible, so supplier's responsibility for making the correct size windows. Larger windows were very heavy to manoeuvre and install as they came as fully glazed units. Be aware of this!

A friend is an installer for a well known company so I picked his brain and worked with him for two days. I would strongly advise anyone contemplating a DIY installation to shadow a pro installer.

Only tackle your own installation if you're confident that you'll be able to complete the job safely. Which? Trusted Traders lists double glazing firms in your area who are fully vetted if you need a reliable double glazing installer.

Those who fitted their own windows typically bought them from Velux, Wickes or a local independent firm.

Our double glazing research

*In August 2020, we asked 3,567 people about their experiences with buying double glazing, as well as the company they bought double glazed windows and/or doors from, and had them installed by, in the past 10 years. Customer quotes about getting the right quote are from an earlier survey.