Tips & Advice

5 min read

What are the differences between PVC and uPVC?

Written by

Kacper Szczypek

Reading Time: 5 minutes

There are many factors that you should consider when choosing windows or doors for your house, and quite obviously, the price is one of the most important ones for pretty much everyone. It’s fully understandable, though, because your choice will stay with you for the next decade or two, which is the best reason to make a really wise and well-thought choice.

When looking for information about the best material for your new windows and doors, it is highly possible that you found out that uPVC is one of the most popular choices in Ireland due to the exceptional properties of this material, not to mention the lower price.

It’s natural that you may ask yourself “Are uPVC windows really a good choice?” or “Will uPVC doors last for a long time?” Fortunately, if you’re reading this article, you’re in the right place – we have for you a thorough explanation regarding PVC and uPVC just below, so keep reading and find out what’s the real difference between PVC and uPVC.

What is PVC?

Let’s start from basics: “PVC” stands for polyvinyl chloride – a synthetic polymer of plastic that is produced in huge quantities every year and used in a wide range of industries. You surely know one of the earliest uses of PVC, vinyl records, but mechanical properties of PVC make it also a perfect solution for many other uses. A good example is fluid transfer – PVC is widely used to manufacture various types of piping: from waste lines to irrigation systems to pool circulation systems etc.

Thanks to its durability, flexibility and high resistance to chemicals, corrosion, acids and soil, PVC is also commonly used to insulate electrical cables. It also makes a good material for clothes, sheet vinyl flooring, toys and even medically approved flexible containers and tubing. What’s important here is the fact that PVC wouldn’t be as flexible and soft without plasticisers – substances that soften PVC and make it much more resistant to stress due to significantly reduced tensile strength. And that flexibility is the most important reason as to why plasticised PVC isn’t used to manufacture window frames and doors.

 

What is uPVC?

As you probably suspect already, “uPVC” is an abbreviation from “unplasticised polyvinyl chloride” (also known as “rigid PVC” or RPVC), which basically means that uPVC does not contain any plasticisers (eg. phthalates or BPA) that would soften it or make uPVC more flexible. As such, it is a stiff, durable material that technically speaking is one of two basic forms of polyvinyl chloride. The above-mentioned durability and dimensional stability are also the main reasons why uPVC is used as the perfect material for doors and window frames.

What are the other properties of uPVC that make it a great choice for your doors and windows? Here’s a brief list:

  • smooth, less porous surface when compared to other materials (for you that means little to no maintenance)
  • exceptional thermal efficiency (reduced heat transfer and high thermal insulation mean lower costs for you)
  • extremely long lifespan (decades at the very least)
  • a wide range of possible colours, finishes and shapes of uPVC windows and doors (you won’t have any problems with finding something that fits the style of your house just perfectly)
  • very affordable price, especially when compared to wood/timber.

Additionally, sturdiness and durability of uPVC is easily comparable to solid wood, uPVC is also much more resistant to changing weather conditions and practically immune to rot. Moreover, many modern uPVC windows and doors have frames reinforced with galvanised iron, which even further increases their durability and make such doors and windows really difficult (well, practically impossible without people inside noticing) to break through for potential intruders. What’s more, you can equip your uPVC doors and windows with many advanced security systems, locks and solutions, additionally increasing the security level of your house.

What’s most important, uPVC is completely safe for the natural environment and can be fully recycled, which makes uPVC doors and windows a perfect complement to every modern, eco-friendly building.

 

PVC vs uPVC – comparison

In the table below you will find all the necessary information to compare standard PVC to uPVC – we hope that you will find this short comparison useful.

PVC uPVC
Contains various chemical compounds (plasticisers) that are harmful to the environment and can lead to health hazards No plasticisers or any other dangerous substances
Light-weight material Light-weight material
Flexible Rigid (stiff)
Porous surface that require more maintenance to remove any stains Low maintenance due to the smooth surface
Only available in white colour Available in a wide range of colours
No customisation available Customisable (can look like other materials – eg. wood)
Low production cost Extremely low production cost
Average durability Highly durable
Not recyclable 100% recyclable

Some not-so-well-known facts about uPVC windows and doors

While uPVC has been present on the market for many, many years, there are still some misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding that material. That’s why we decided to put together a comprehensive list of less-known facts regarding uPVC in order to provide you with reliable information about it.

  1. If PVC windows and doors aren’t safe for one’s health due to the presence of plasticisers, why are there companies still selling such products?

Well, the truth is simple: standard, plasticised PVC isn’t nowadays used as a material for window frames or doors. But as you already know, uPVC is technically a type of PVC, only unplasticised – so some manufacturers and providers decided to advertise their product as “PVC doors” and “PVC windows”, sometimes even trying to convince their customers that what they sell is something better than uPVC joinery.

  1. I heard that PVC doors and windows are safer in the event of a fire incident.

Again, a common misunderstanding, and the source is pretty much the same as in the above case. You should know that plasticised PVC emits various harmful chemical substances when burning – and these substances come from plasticisers (phthalates and BPA). On the other hand, and what is even more important, uPVC has a very good flame retardancy and is a very safe material for doors and windows in the case of fire.

  1. There are opinions that PVC windows provide better sound insulation than those made of uPVC.

As we already stated, standard PVC (plasticised one) is not used to manufacture window frames or doors due to the mechanical properties of that material. High flexibility means low dimensional stability, and this is a highly undesirable characteristic of any joinery. But even if such window frames were installed, they wouldn’t be more soundproof than perfectly matched and professionally installed modern uPVC windows with double or triple glass panes.

  1. Many people say that uPVC windows turn yellow quickly!

That could be true about 20 or 30 years ago, but definitely isn’t true nowadays. Modern uPVC windows are not susceptible to yellowing over long periods of time, because manufacturing methods and processes are far more advanced technologically now than they were in the past. In fact, if you see discoloured uPVC window frames or doors, you can be sure that they are quite old. All uPVC systems and products available at Fenbro won’t turn yellow over time.

Final words about PVC and uPVC

We hope that this post was at least a bit helpful to you and that we were able to clearly show the main differences between uPVC and PVC in the context of choosing windows or doors for your house. In order to avoid any misunderstandings when looking for information about uPVC joinery and its advantages, you should use only reliable sources of knowledge – hopefully, our blog and this post will be such a source for you from now on! Check our uPVC Windows from Poland at Fenbro website!

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