Non-Specialist v Specialist Timber Windows & Doors

August 12, 2020

The over-used phrase “You get what you pay for” is not always true.

Whenever we see a quotation from another supplier which is cheaper, invariably we are able to demonstrate why, as there are tangible specification differences.

The windows and doors below are clearly from a non-specialist manufacturer.

From a distance they look ok, but get a bit closer and you can see the problems.

These products are inferior in several ways – glazing, beading, jointing, weather seals, hardware – but the most obvious problem is that they’ve been fitted without being painted first.

A manufacturer worth their salt will always deliver a pre-finished product. This is important for several reasons:

  • A high quality factory spray finish is 8 times thicker* than paint finishes applied with a brush after fitting. Factory finishings are smooth, even, dust and blemish-free.
  • Pre-finished products will carry a guarantee, such as the 10 year ‘no maintenance’ warranty from one of our suppliers. If the paint finish fails and causes the product beneath to degrade, you’re covered.

*Specialist multi-coat finishes such as Teknos, Remmers or Sikkens

No doubt the homeowner considered they were saving money when they purchased these. Certainly it is likely they would have been cheaper than anything that we offer. But have they really saved money?

These particular products have been in situ for a number of months. Apart from not yet being sealed against the elements with paint, they haven’t even been sealed around the reveals. The timber quality is pretty poor and shows signs of degradation already. They’re covered in muck, mortar and dust so will need to be well cleaned prior to painting – and they’ll need to be primed again. So there’s some labour still required to offer reasonable protection against the weather.

In our opinion, these products, if prepared and painted soon by someone who knows what they’re doing, might last 5 years or so before they require repainting and 10 years before some timber repairs are needed.

Specialist Accoya traditional style entrance door with canopy and fluted surround.

We only recommend fenestration products manufactured by specialist companies. They will undoubtedly be more expensive, but they will not only last longer, they will require far less maintenance, keep the weather out more efficiently and be much more thermally efficient.

Specialist factory-stained hardwood windows, 15 years old.

The following are the basic differences between what we offer, and those we don’t.


Only the best knot-free rot resistant timbers

Hardwood or Accoya doors only

Factory applied multi-coat paint systems

Dust & temperature controlled spray and drying bays

Hand prepared between coats

Up to 20 years between re-coatings

In-house R&D leading to superior design

Better aesthetics

Enhanced weatherproofing, including double seals

Improved durability

Robust high security hinges and multi-point locking

Low U-value warm edge double glazed units as standard (1.0-1.2)

Glazed using glazing tape to avoid unsightly, dirt collecting silicone

All the above specification items pertain to the products we offer.


Cheaper, sometimes untreated timbers, including ‘knotty’ pine

Doors made in softwood

Unfinished or primed only – on site painting required

Likely to require re-painting in 5-10 years

Made to unsophisticated standard profiles

Less sympathetic aesthetics

Poorer weatherproofing, single seals

Timber likely to start degrading in less than 10 years

Standard single-point locks & stays

Higher U-value double glazed units to meet minimum building regulations

Unsightly, dirt collecting silicone

Whilst we have seen products that fit this worst case scenario, not all these specification issues will apply to every non-specialist’s products.

However, it’s likely there will be a combination of these issues which will compromise every aspect of their performance and durability.

Robert Goldsbrough

Robert Goldsbrough

Robert has been developing and building period & contemporary homes since 1995, and has installed all types of external home improvement products.