Reply To: Irish say no to PVC windows

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Thanks JL for those links – I’m surprised at how durable the aluminium is above all else, then again it always appears to be in good condition, even in 60s houses.

On PVC, clearly it’s toxic stuff to manufacture, but I think that the wood lobby aren’t telling the full truth when comparing. If you dumped all of the waste products of maintaining your timber windows over the course of the life of PVC into a pile on the floor, not to mention the stain or varnish products themselves, and white spirit, all of which have extremely high VOCs, and presumably are equally toxic to manufacture, and the tins and tubs and bottles (which are rarely recycled), plus brushes, I think the damage begins to add up here too – a point that the paper acknowledges is difficult to quantify. Although yes, if you use simple paint, the impact is reduced.

Saying that, I wouldn’t touch PVC with a barge-pole, the very idea of having plastic coated fittings is horrible, let alone the environmental impact. It’s a disgrace that so many 30’s schools are having their steel windows replaced with PVC, likewise small 19th & early 20th century schoolhouses having sashes chucked in the skip in favour of the squeaky clean, supposedly child friendly material.
The Irish Home Builders Accociation took out a big ad in one of the property supplements last week entitled ‘Plastic is Actually Fantastic’ – and amongst other things recommeded that unless your property is listed, there is no reason why you shouldn’t install PVC sashes as replacements, which apparently from a short distance are indistinguishable from their timber equivilants, enabling you to have ‘the period look of classic timber sashes with all the added benefits of low-maintainance PVC’.
Yeah – I think people noticing PVC on Leinster House from the far side of Kildare St answers that one, let alone the conservation issues. And the horns inevitably attached deteriorate quite fast, with the joins becoming evident as a result of the brittleness of the product.

I think the best place in the whole of Dublin to see sashes at their best, where uniformity of design and slender profiles truly shine is Dartmouth Square just off the Grand canal. Every single one of the 70 or so Victorian houses surrounding the large green have their original windows, with unusual arched windows on the upper floors. It is an extraordinary sight, marching lines of matching sashes – a remarkable feat of conservation, it has to be unique in the city. Suffice to say, every one of them is protected!
Mountpleasant Square in Rathmines is another gem – aside from feeling like walking back in time, what is immediately apparent are the sashes, I think there’s but one house on the whole square that has replacements.

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