Finding the best hybrid glazing or composite windows and doors isn’t difficult as most of these systems using a combination of materials are very well designed and made by nature of their design. We take a look at some of the most complete and best hybrid glazing systems available.
A brief introduction to the best hybrid glazing
This page focuses on all types of hybrid or composite products. This, therefore, includes windows, patio doors, sliding or bifolding doors as well as front doors.
Hybrid glazing is also referred to as composite windows, Swedish or Danish windows, alu-timber, aluminium clad and other terms. They all describe the dual material nature of these products mainly wood inside and aluminium outside. There are also versions using PVCu on the inside and aluminium inside.
The materials, craftsmanship and quality of most hybrid glazing systems on the market not only gives distinctive and luxurious windows but also some of the longest-lasting with a lifespan of 70 years with some of the best hybrid windows and doors.
How to choose the best hybrid glazing
The best hybrid glazing systems are widely regarded as the Nordic systems, German and Austrian, although some UK systems also offer excellent quality and design features too. You’ll find the majority of these products made outside the UK.
Unlike windows using full-framed aluminium, the supply chain for hybrid glazing systems is a little different. Many of the companies behind the brands make their own products. This is quite different to all aluminium products, typically made by many different manufacturers all buying aluminium profiles and accessories from the system company.
Who makes the best hybrid glazing, windows and doors explained
Four factors determine who makes the best hybrid glazing and which of the products available on the market best meet the requirements of the customer.
The hybrid brand
Whilst many hybrid windows meet similar quality standards and specifications, this is one area of buying new doors and windows where brand matters more.
Two hybrid glazing systems by British systems companies are Senior Architectural Systems and Comar Aluminium. Whilst good systems overall, they’re a mid-range brand, rarely sold in retail showrooms. They’re better known in the commercial market and in many new build developments of houses or apartments.
Senior has their Series 1 windows and doors and Series 3 for curtain walling. Comar provides the Alu-Timber range. Neither of these provides sliding or folding doors, instead offering windows, hinged doors and curtain walling. Both these systems can be purchased by homeowners although they’re better known in the new-build market.
Other British brands are Opus made by Prefix systems, Allan Bros, as well as the independent companies designing and making their own products.
With more features, product and styling options and at the upper end of the market, you’ll find brands including:
- Westcoast Windows
Many of these are Scandinavian or other European systems and with excellent performance given the wide use of these in much colder climates.
The design, features and options you get
This is probably the most important decision when buying hybrid windows and doors. There are systems offering a very basic range with few options for frame styling. Other brands provide contemporary and classically styled windows. The designers of these windows have embraced modern tastes. Better brands provide options for how the frame profiles look. These range from flat modern frames to soft curves and chamfers on the aluminium, internal wood or both.
With the best hybrid glazing brands, you’ll also find a wider choice of woods for the inside. Some brands only offer timbers such as larch or spruce. Others offer higher quality woods for the inside such as walnut, oak or ash.
With many customers today now wanting more contemporary frames, some brands even extend to creating frameless corner windows and an all-glass appearance even with aluminium and wood on the surrounding framing. Most of the brands mentioned in this article provide windows of different styles, sightlines, colours and glass.
The hybrid glazing products available
Another factor is the range of products available from each brand. For example, several bifolding door systems companies provide a hybrid version of bifolding doors but don’t offer windows, single, French doors or front doors.
It probably makes sense when replacing all the windows and doors to go with one brand. But if you’re looking for bifolds only, then some of those only offering these are worth considering. Here, Sunflex and Solarlux and Centor both make incredibly good bifolds only.
For the best hybrid glazing in windows and hinged doors Internorm, Rationel, Idealkombi are three offering an excellent range both in terms of design, functionality and personalisation.
The price point you pay for How much hybrid glazing costs
Hybrid glazing, whether windows or doors, screens or front doors is widely regarded as a more luxurious offering to standard aluminium windows, vastly superior in every way to high-end PVCu windows such as Residence 9 and on a par with high quality all wood windows, although the feature set is different.
Therefore, when you decide to fit hybrid windows and doors, it’s a greater financial outlay, but also a better investment. These windows are designed to last longer and of course, the styling makes them timeless and hybrid glazing doesn’t go out of fashion. There are price differences between the simpler brands and the more luxurious ones.
Understanding clad vs bonded hybrid doors and windows
The way the external aluminium connects to the internal wood also differs. One is clipped to the wood profile the other is bonded and both versions are invisible to the naked eye.
Glazing professionals regard the bonded as better although we don’t know of significant issues with the clipped version. You can read more about this feature in our more extensive hybrid windows buying guide.
The bonded version of hybrid is regarded as the more advanced as well as the model that’s been improved over the years for even better performance.
Energy Efficiency and Weather performance of hybrid products
The superior thermal efficiency, low U-Values and excellent window energy ratings of hybrid windows and doors are hard to beat with standard aluminium products. The wood used internally is an excellent insulator and even better, creates a warm-to-the-touch internal surface.
Thermal breaks generally aren’t required with these types of windows given the natural insulation properties of the woods used. However, go with a product like Idealcombi and their range even includes a thermal break between the aluminium and wood on the outer frame.
As well as significantly improving the performance of the window it also provides added protection for the wood surface against moisture. Idealcombi now provides very advanced insulation materials in their hybrid windows and for insulation, these are some of the best.
With all other products, you can expect similar low U-Values as standard. There are double or triple glazed options and you’ll find most brands meeting Passivhaus standards whether it’s for a Passiv type home or achieving a low energy dwelling. With these types of buildings, you’ll find hybrid used more than any other material.
Given the cold climates many of these windows are intended for, you’ll find excellent weather sealing using gaskets, seals, built-in drainage and other features. Therefore, there’s no best system here, it mostly depends on the glass specification you choose
Security of hybrid windows and doors
With the better brands mentioned, you can expect to get excellent security including the well-known Police Preferred SBD specification and well as meeting the standards for security in new homes and extensions.
The best hybrid glazing brands come with multiple locking points, top quality British or European locking hardware. Most brands offer espagnolette or hook bolt locking and several Scandinavian brands go further, glueing the glass to the frame for even more security.
Overall there are no badly designed products and any quality brand comes with excellent security.
Why the company you choose matters when choosing the best hybrid glazing
The best way to buy these composite doors and windows is finding a reputable installer. Here, finding the best depends also on who supplies them.
Most of the best-known brands operate in three ways:
- Those approved as dealers and installers of a brand with the right showroom, product knowledge and training
- Installers buying their products from a manufacturer such as Senior and Comar Systems
- Where the company behind the product also sells and installs
Here there’s no overall best way to buy. However, our preferred route is the approved dealer route. Usually, the manufacturer and designer works hard choosing reputable installers and also providing them with the necessary product and installation training. At the same time some carry out additional checks as to the overall reputation and even financial and general reputation of the dealer.
Another reason for choosing the dealer route is often these dealers of hybrid glazing are also approved for other brands and products – another indication of dealing with a better installation company.
More information about buying the best hybrid glazing
Homeowners and the related trade can use our contact form for more information about buying hybrid windows and doors, details of local installers and suppliers.