Industrial evolution

Offering a combination of a subtle profile, strength and thermal performance, steel-framed windows are the answer for achieving design freedom with classic industrial style in residential builds. Ellice Bateman reports.

Steel framed windows have been around for many decades, but they have recently seen a surge in popularity in the light of the variety of designs and colours now available as a result of better manufacturing and technological advances. Aesthetically pleasing, resilient to the elements and low maintenance, industrial-style steel framed windows can be used to help achieve a plethora of architectural designs, providing a distinctive visual look to a wide range of buildings.

After their original development in the blacksmith’s yard the manufacture of steel windows eventually moved to factories in the 19th century. The mass production of their steel frames saw the cost of these previously exclusive window designs come down significantly.

Steel windows are often specified as the preferred solution for heritage and listed buildings of high conservation value as well as substantial and prestigious modern developments. The best steel window suppliers work closely alongside architects and conservation officers to achieve window designs which combine the visual effect required with high thermal performance, while respecting and enhancing the delivery of heritage and conservation goals.

However developers and homeowners looking to add a more interesting and unusual design to homes can also find that industrial-style steel framed windows are the perfect solution. Modern steel windows and doors can be designed and fabricated in the traditional style but they can now also provide higher thermal performance giving further advantages in modern developments. The advance of cold rolled steel profiles has allowed for the creation of fully thermally broken steel windows, enabling these luxury windows to exceed Building Regulations while achieving a slim, elegant finish. Steel window profiles can hold a double, or even triple glazed, unit to create a fully insulating window.

The following few paragraphs capture eight compelling reasons why designers and constructors of domestic projects should consider steel framed windows.

Strength

Steel is known for its inherent strength. You can create impressive, opening windows using steel frame in incredibly thin profiles which wouldn’t be possible with aluminium or timber. Additionally, the window’s structural integrity does not deteriorate over time, ensuring the levels of security and thermal efficiency aren’t affected.

Durability

Replacing windows can be costly. However, the long-term costs associated with maintaining old fashioned windows can be even more so. Steel is rated among the strongest frame materials and also withstands corrosion or rust. It is not unusual to find windows made from steel that have lasted for a century and still maintain their elegance.

Fire-rated options

A good window should safeguard a building as well as its occupants in the event of a fire. Fire-rated steel windows and doors are a clever solution to openings that require a prescribed level of fire resistance in order to protect exit routes. Steel windows’ slim industrial style can therefore be combined with robust fire performance.

Bespoke solutions

The option to create bespoke steel windows means specifiers can perfectly match windows to openings. This a great option if an opening is unusually shaped or on a listed property and alterations are not permitted.

Wide range of finishes

These modern, thermally efficient steel windows are perfect to recreate the Art Deco-influenced, industrial architectural designs that are currently very popular. Powder coated to a precise frame colour, galvanised steel frames create slim windows which are a perfect match to traditional designs, with further popular material options including rust-coloured CortenTM steel, architectural bronze and stainless steel.

Aesthetic appeal

Steel windows made from these interesting framing materials can form part of an exciting and different architectural design. The slim framing sections are not at the expense of improved thermal performance thanks to advances in thermal breaking, and the inherent security of steel.

Architectural bronze windows are popular on luxury building designs for their high-end look and feel. This as well as a brass equivalent can be finished in a number of ways to create the specific appearance that architects tend to require when using these frames.

Simple maintenance

The last thing that building owners want to have to do is to regularly clean or maintain windows. The goal is a window which is virtually maintenance-free and which only requires minimal cleaning. Unlike other metals, steel doesn’t crack, warp or lose its shape, and it also maintains its colour and elegance in different types of weather. These are features which help to make cleaning and maintaining windows simple.

Steel windows and doors subject to heavy traffic should be oiled or waxed at fortnightly intervals. Where traffic is moderate to light however, monthly treatment may suffice and in non-traffic areas, quarterly or biannual applications are feasible.

Cost-effective

Since steel windows are incredibly strong they do not deteriorate over time and the chances of having to repair damaged frames are quite low. Maintaining the windows is very simple as there is no need to apply/use expensive procedures. This lowers the long-term costs of maintaining the steel windows.

While steel systems have their roots in the industrial age and continue to offer the benefit of that industrial aesthetic for new developments, they are also readily used in traditionally-styled homes, and can enhance a wide range of external and interior designs.