How do you colour match aluminium windows you’re about to buy if you’ve already got old powder coated windows and doors and want the same colour? Whilst you won’t get a 100% match to your old aluminium windows, it gets close. Here’s everything you need to know about how to colour match aluminium windows or doors and importantly, what to expect.
Why you may want to colour match aluminium windows or doors
The obvious reason for wanting to colour match aluminium windows or doors that you’re about to buy to your existing windows is retaining a uniform appearance throughout your property. Perhaps you’ve already carried out general window replacements using aluminium. Now you want a new extension or perhaps a brand new modern patio door product.
Many people carrying out property renovations can’t complete the entire project in one go and it’s often carried out in phases.
Furthermore, it’s not just old aluminium windows. You may want to replace your aluminium fascias, soffits, guttering. New extensions frequently have powder coated pressings, trims and column covers that need matching up and it’s the builder often having to source these as well as the door installer.
Why colour references are essential for colour matching new windows and doors
Taking Grey as an example; there are over 20 different shades of grey in a standard colour swatch. With so many possible interpretations of what is the correct grey colour it is imperative that references are used.
For this reason, the window sector does not use descriptions such as Anthracite Grey or Goosewing Grey. Red is popular in schools and commercial buildings. Again they don’t use specific descriptions such as Pillar Box Red but insists on colour references.
Whilst certain colours have stabilised themselves with descriptions such as Van Dyke Brown this is merely a convenience, this colour will still be ordered using the reference BS 08 B 29 Satin.
This takes all the guesswork out of what is the correct interpretation by all parties of the correct colour. One person’s interpretation of colour is completely different from another. With the sums of money involved and the potential for error, colour matching powder-coated aluminium windows must be done right.
Colour powder brands and manufacturers and why they matter
Powder coated aluminium windows are coated with polyester powder. But did you know that there are several powder manufacturers including Syntha Pulvin, Interpon/Akzo Nobel, Tiger, IGP and Axalta to name some?
Whilst they may all use the same RAL reference this does not mean that the colours will match. They cannot match exactly as all these different powder manufacturers manufacture their own powders.
For example, if Grey RAL 7016 windows are painted with Interpon Powder by one supplier and aluminium panels or trims are painted by another supplier using Tiger Grey RAL 7016 powder, these colours may not exactly match. For this reason, window companies have a responsibility to make the customer aware of a possible colour difference when they know they are sourcing aluminium products from different suppliers. Alternatively to one powder coater is responsible for the finishing of all aluminium.
Therefore when placing an order for panels or ancillary powder coated items, it is wise alongside the RAL reference to also state the powder manufacturer stated on the colour swatch you have used. For example Grey RAL 7016 Matt INTERPON. This will ensure that the same make of powder is used and ensure colours will match assuming all the powder coating processes have been carried out correctly by all parties.
Similarly, if you are carrying out a large contract, make your powder coater aware so that any further phases can be powder coated using the same powder manufacturer as the earlier phases.
How to colour match aluminium windows easily
Obviously, if your other windows and doors in the home are quite recent, getting in touch with the original installer of these is the easiest way to colour match your windows. Many reputable manufacturers hold records on their orders including who made them and the colour finish.
If you’ve moved into a property with existing aluminium windows and you don’t know the system, brand or supplier, then colour matching the aluminium windows will involve a good aluminium windows supplier (get in touch for details of these near you) and one of the current RAL colour swatches.
It’s quite likely your existing coloured windows have already been powder coated to any of the many RAL colours available for aluminium. The good news is, many of these original colours still exist.
For years the domestic aluminium market offered quite a limited range. So it’s quite likely your windows came in the following colours.
For white windows, RAL 9910, RAL 9010 or RAL 9011
For black windows, RAL 9005, RAL 9017, RAL 9021
For brown windows, RAL 8080, RAL 8014 or BS08B29
Why choosing a good windows supplier matters
How easily you can colour match aluminium windows or doors to your existing glazing also means finding the right supplier.
The better suppliers have access to better manufacturers. Better manufacturers provide a more comprehensive product range as well as a wider choice of powder-coated colours.
Why you can’t get a 100% colour match
At this point, it’s worth managing expectations and explaining why when you try to colour match aluminium windows to your old ones, even if you know the colour you may not get an exact match.
The reason is the age of the powder coating and whether the windows are routinely cleaned. The location of the windows also affects the powder coated finish. Here are several reasons why a colour may fade or deteriorate over time.
- The windows are in a severe location such as city centre grime, or a coastal installation exposed to salt and sea air
- Rarely being cleaned and dirt affecting the powder coated finish
- A window sourced or painted overseas under different colour references and processes.
Trickle vents will often be ordered from the supplier in the RAL reference, however if they are made and painted abroad or have a different paint process applied, even if the same RAL reference is specified, there is no guarantee of an exact colour match. You can find out more about these window vents and why they matter in your home.
These same aluminium trickle vents will often have plastic end caps. Plastic is not polyester powder coated and differences in colour may be visible. This is not the fault of the product but if the customer is aware of this beforehand it may avoid awkward situations where the customer complains about it.
Why even the colour swatch won’t give you a 100% match
There are several issues that should be borne in mind with colour swatches used by the window industry and offered to customers to select a colour.
Colour swatches are printed in the same way any printing on paper is carried out. It is not polyester powder coating, it is printing on paper or card. Therefore there is no guarantee that the colour seen on the paper colour swatch will match the finished aluminium profile. It’s worth being aware of this. It’s close, but not exact. An aluminium test panel of the desired RAL colour is always more more accurate than a paper swatch. That said, paper swatches remain the most common way of choosing and matching colours and customers are happy with the end result.
It is imperative that the correct colour swatch is used. Often customers will obtain a Dulux or other colour RAL colour swatch from their local Homebase or paint supplier. The same applies to powder. The RAL colour swatch should be produced by a recognised powder manufacturer and not be a “generic” RAL colour swatch. There are many such swatches online and available and there is again no guarantee that the colour of the powder coated aluminium will match.
Why different paint processes, achieve different results.
If for example, you are trying to colour match an existing powder-coated steel window. The process involved in powder coating steel is different and can therefore produce different results.
One example is the curing process in the ovens after the aluminium and steel have been powder coated. Steel may require a different temperature and a different curing time and if it is not carried out correctly there can be differences between the finish on a powder coated aluminium window when trying to match it to a powder coated or painted steel window.
When trying to match to an existing coloured window, often it is impossible to know where this window was powder coated, with what makes of powder and with what process. Similarly, a wet paint process will not achieve an exact match to a powder coating process.
For this reason extras at the end of the contract such as column covers, pressings and other trims may not be 100% matched owing to different suppliers.
Summary and Conclusion
Helping you with colour match aluminium windows to your old windows shouldn’t be difficult with the right supplier and aluminium windows specialist. Here are our top tips to help you.
- Accept on older windows a 100% match isn’t possible
- Darker colours tend to match better
- Try to establish the original supplier of the windows if these are within the last few years
- With over 200 colours available for aluminium windows and doors, you’re quite likely to find a close match if not an exact one.
- Remember the age and condition of the existing windows as well as their location affects the visible colour.
- Extras may not be exact given different suppliers, but a good installer should help you here.