The evolution of PVC-U windows

windows evolution

PVC-U systems have come a long, long way since their invention in the late 1970s. Units are no longer restricted to the smooth, white finish synonymous with double glazing. Textured and coloured finishes have made PVC-U a top choice for both modern and traditional properties alike. The range of styles, finishes and colours has never been so diverse.

Since we opened our doors in 1994, we have been supplying and installing quality PVC-U and aluminium windows. Yet the history of PVC-U stretches back much further than that. In this blog post, we take a nostalgic look at the PVC-U systems of yesteryear. We also explore the modern day technology that’s ready and waiting to transform your home.

Before PVC-U systems

The Romans were the first to use glass in the construction of buildings. By the end of the 1st century they had refined this technique and many of their landmark buildings featured glass.

However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that the development of plate glass went further. French innovators used new methods to craft larger plates with higher clarity. From this point, processes were subject to continuous development to make the plates larger, flatter and clearer.

The birth of PVC-U

PVC-U systems migrated from Germany to the UK in the late 1970s. These systems quickly gained popularity, thanks to their thermal efficiency and sound insulation.

Using a tilt/turn mechanism, early PVC-U windows were bulkier than their wooden casement predecessors. As PVC-U technology evolved, profiles became slimmer and their performance levels improved even further.

It was Building Regulations that defined the qualities required in replacement windows, as described by the British Plastics Federation (@TheBPF):

“Since 2002, Building Regulations have been applied to replacement windows specifying a minimum thermal performance, the use of safety glass and the dwelling must be made no worse with respect to compliance with other parts of the Regulations, e.g. escape in case of fire, ventilation, etc. Normally, Building Regulations are overseen by Local Authorities. However, for the replacement of windows in England and Wales, the Government arranged for a self-assessment scheme to be set up called FENSA ( as an alternative to the usual process. All replacement window installations must be covered by either FENSA certificates or by Local Authority Building Control. Because of recent practices in replacing sliding sash windows, FENSA have a range of guidance notes to assist compliance with Building Regulations in this particular case.”

PVC-U windows today

Today, a major advantage of PVC-U windows is the range of choice they offer. At Unicorn Windows you can choose from a variety of finishes, including woodgrain textures for a more traditional look. There are also numerous designs, like box sash, open-out casement and tilt/turn open-in windows. Coloured window frames are increasingly popular with modern and traditional homeowners alike.

PVC-U windows stand out because of their performance levels. They will produce a more comfortable home by limiting external noise and reducing condensation build up. Not only that, but the installation of A+ rated PVC-U windows can save up to £110 per year in comparison to a completely single glazed property.

Embrace the benefits of modern day PVC-U systems by contacting our team today to discuss your glazing needs.