If you are planning a conservatory one of the biggest design decisions you have to make is what type of material you use for the structure and the frames of the conservatory. Both hardwood and uPVC are strong durable materials for conservatories, and both come with advantages and disadvantages.
If you have an older property it may benefit most from a traditional conservatory, there are several different types you can buy in Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian styles, depending which best suits the property.
Indeed, if you have a house, which is on designated land, such as a conservation area, you may only get planning permission for a certain type of hardwood conservatory.
If you have a modern property, it may be suited equally as well by both uPVC and hardwood; the final decision may rest on your personal preference, or the budget you have in mind for the conservatory.
Conservatories made of wood are typically more desirable for most people, as they give a more luxurious and expensive impression. A variety of different hardwoods can be used including oak, cedar, pine, cherry, mahogany and teak.
Wood is a sustainable source, but certain types of hardwood are in danger of being over-harvested. If the sustainability aspect is important to you, it is worth asking your suppliers about the type of wood they are using and if they support the re-plantation of forests.
It is worth mentioning here that the wood you use should be well seasoned and prepared for use for conservatory frames. If you are using a reputable supplier, or having the conservatory installed by a reputable company, you normally shouldn’t need to worry about the quality of the wood; the company should ensure that all their products meet current standards.
If, however, you are sourcing the timber yourself, it is important to make certain the wood is of high quality to avoid warping and movement in the future.
A wood conservatory can be painted or stained in a variety of different colours, and is not limited to being just the colour of the wood. You may prefer the more natural look, and some woods such as teak and oak gain a silvery finish over time, which can look particularly good.
Otherwise, the wood can be stained in several different shades from dark mahogany to lighter oak, or painted in shades of brown, green and even cream.
Conservatories with frames made of uPVC tend to be cheaper than wooden alternatives, but are just as durable and can last just as long.
As a material, uPVC has been increasingly used in the construction industry for window and door frames, as it is highly weather-proof, it is structurally sound, and it offers a clean white finish.
Most modern style conservatories are constructed with uPVC frames, the clean lines and square shape of a modern conservatory is complemented by the brilliant white finish; but it is also possible to have any style of conservatory constructed from uPVC, if you would like a traditional style with a contemporary finish.
If the white of the plastic is not to your taste there are other options to have the frames covered with a foil coating, which gives the impression of a newly painted wooden conservatory; or you can buy frames which are coloured to resemble woods like mahogany or oak.
For the more adventurous, it is possible to have bespoke frames built in a variety of colours, from subtle tones to extravagant, bright colours. If you choose to have a coloured frame, try to bear in mind how it will look in relation to the rest of the house, and how it may affect the sell-on value of the property in the future.
One of the great advantages of the uPVC conservatory is that it will require very little maintenance. The surfaces are wipe-clean, and the plastic does not need to be treated at any time. Wooden conservatories tend to require a little more maintenance, but much depends on the type of wood used.
Woods like teak and oak will weather and mature naturally, and this is part of their appeal; while other types of wood will need to be preserved. Using the wrong type of paint can damage wooden conservatories, as moisture can get locked in and cause rotting. A micro-porous wood stain is the best thing to use, as it will allow the wood to breathe, while protecting it from the ingress of moisture, ensuring a long lifetime.
The wood stain may need to be reapplied every three to five years, depending on where the conservatory is and on the prevailing weather conditions. If any powder coated aluminium has been used a part of the roof structure, it should also be treated once every ten years.
Hardwood tends to be more expensive than uPVC, although it has the benefit of being much more environmentally friendly as it is a sustainable material. Although the total cost of a conservatory is reliant on several different factors, uPVC is generally cheaper, and will cost less in the future in terms of maintenance.
If you are going to install a conservatory onto your house, you will need to plan what it will be used for, what size and shape it will be, and what materials you use. The type of frame you use is an important decision as it will contribute to the overall look of the conservatory when it is finished. Both hardwood and uPVC offer a long term, durable material for a conservatory frame.
If you have a modern property, it could be complemented by either wood or uPVC, and the decision could rest on the budget, with uPVC being cheaper. It is quite common for people to choose the materials which best match the window and door frames on the current property, and it is possible to buy coloured uPVC to look like wood if a hardwood conservatory goes beyond you budget.
Properties on designated land must not have alterations done which change the appearance of the building and uPVC conservatories are generally not allowed. If your home is in an area like this, your only option may be hardwood.