Crittall Windows Wrongly Replaced with uPVC

In the latest Glass Times magazine was an article talking about the completion of a residential project in Humberside where the old steel domestic windows set in existing hardwood subframes needed replacing.

Steel Window replacements.

Pvc windows will never replicate the  look of original Crittall or steel windows, as shown here by a direct fix installation of powder coated aluminium windows with authentic bars.

These existing windows were wrongly replaced with upvc double glazing from Synseal and it was astonishing to read the wild claims made by the article as to how these plastic windows somehow managed to retain the original look of the property.

Unfortuntely there are no before and after photos with the article, however some of the claims made by the installer, Expressions of Grimsby, in my view are incorrect at best, misleading at worst.

Giving the article the benefit of the doubt it doesn’t mention any aluminium alternative to old steel windows, but given the size of the property in the picture, one assumes the customer could have afforded the proper aluminium crittall replacement windows had they been given the option.

The picture in the article (below)shows brilliantly how replacing the original slim, crittall or steel windows with Synseal upvc has significantly increased the sight lines.  One can only assume that either Expressions Grimsby had no idea that there was an aluminium alternative or simply didn’t supply aluminium in their product offering.  Rather than be honest with a customer and admit pvcu was simply the wrong product for such a handsome property, decided to ruin the look with the pvc replacement.

The property in question. A handsome period home, now with chunky plastic windows, made worse with the use of door outer frames and dummy sashes that did not form part of the original windows.

Of course, whether the property has been “ruined” is subjective, but the purpose here is to demonstrate that had the customer installed aluminium crittall replacement windows, the original sight lines would have been maintained whether they chose to keep the original subframes or go for a direct fix option. The pvc windows could never replicate the originals.

It was the statements made in the article that I had to take issue with:

Expressions worked with the homeowner to deliver a fenestration solution that was in keeping with the original syle of the property…


Close up of the windows showing dummy sashes where simple slim bars would have sufficed.

I see no way how this could possibly be achieved when you now look at the thick sight lines of the transoms and the sashes! The original slim windows have been replaced with a system that offers profile dimensions nowhere near the crittall or steel originals.

The article goes on to say:

…company was approached for advice because the original timber outer frames and steel framed inserts would require a bespoke solution to replace them.  We decided the best approach would be to create a prototype window using a door outer frame and dummy sashes in all apertures to show the homeowner what we could do

PVCu windows will rarely replicate the original look of steel windows. Shown here by the latest aluminium alternative from Jennyfields

So rather than use an aluminium slim outer frame that would have matched the original, they thought it would be wise to use a door outer frame? A door outer frame that is generally larger than a window outer frame in every respect?  If they were trying to replicate the hardwood subframe, why not use a direct fix frame?

Additionally where the horizontal bars could be achieved with just that in aluminium and upvc – horizontal bars, they decide to further add to the sight lines of what was a slim steel window with the use of plastic window transoms and further add to the sight lines even more with the use of dummy sashes. This is not a “bespoke solution” as Expressions Grimsby claim, this is just bad design using the wrong product from the outset.

…we were able to give the homeowner exactly what they wanted using pvcu profile and they were absolutely delighted with the result

I would put forward the case that had they shown the customer the proper aluminium alternative with an authentic crittall horizontal bar, the customer would have gone for the alumnium option without hesitation.

By far the most ridiculous statement in the article, given that there are some fantastic steel and crittall window replacement windows in the market place designed to replicate the look of steel windows says:

It is a common, false assumption that replacing period windows with pvcu equivalents will damage the property’s heritage.

This is no common false assumption! This is actually fact! There is presently no plastic door or window system whose sight lines will replicate those of original steel windows. There are however several aluminium alternatives that will, and if the budget stretches to it, you can replace old steel windows, with new steel windows as well that will now meet all levels of security and energy efficiency.

All this installation has done is replicate the original horizontal bar design of the original steel windows with a chunky incorrect alternative.  The use of a door frame and dummy sashes on such an installation is totally ridiculous where there are aluminium alternatives in the market.

This article perfectly demonstrates how lack of knowledge or failure to provide a good aluminium system results in homes having completely the wrong product installed in them.  If you are replacing old steel windows, replace them with the right product.  Aluminium! upvc will not retain your original sight lines.

Crittall Replacement solutions are provided by Jennyfields experts in replacing Crittall Windows.


  1. Russell Ager says

    Of course, you are forgetting the ‘Authentic’ and most appropriate replacement for old Crittall windows – New double glazed, Part L compliant steel windows manufactured by Crittall Windows in Essex

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