Hazlemere’s step by step conservatory buyer’s guide (3)

(week three)

Buying a conservatory, like many purchases, is a substantial investment which needs to be thoroughly researched and considered with care. Whatever it is you want to use your conservatory for, getting the right conservatory will revamp your home and ultimately add value to your property.

So, with this is mind we want to share our bespoke conservatory buyers guide so you can buy the conservatory of your dreams — with confidence and peace of mind. Our no-nonsense guide will enable you to evaluate, compare and hopefully find the right conservatory that compliments your home.

Although you can download our buyers guide in its entirety from the Hazlemere website, we’ve decided to break it down into digestible sections for you. Once a week we will provide you with the key advice and benefits of introducing a striking and functional conservatory to your property. Our aim is very simple: to turn what could be a potential headache into an altogether more pleasurable experience!

Last week we focused on Aesthetics and Conservatory Construction. This week we’ll be looking at Materials which contribute to the sustainability of your installation.

Aluminium Oak Wood Grain Conservatory
Aluminium Oak Conservatory Under Construction
Material World

PVCu, aluminium, timber – the choices they offer are seemingly limitless. Here we take a look at what the different materials have to offer and some of the terminology you are likely to come across.

There are three main materials used for building conservatories today — PVCu (also known as uPVC), aluminium and timber. All offer similar options in terms of glazing, security and the styles available. In fact, at first glance through any conservatory sales brochure, you would be hard-pushed to spot the different materials. But there are distinctions between them that you need to be aware of before you make your final choice.

The PVCu Story

PVCu has without a doubt, dominated the window and door market for the last 20 years and for the last 10 years has grown to dominate the conservatory market as well. PVCu is a great building material – lightweight, highly thermally efficient, easy to maintain and cheap to produce. Innovations in the design of PVCu conservatories mean that they now offer many, many designs and styles, from classic Edwardian and Victorian to contemporary.

PVCu frames have little integral strength and so need to be reinforced to offer the stability needed for windows, doors and conservatories. This reinforcement involves steel or aluminium sections being integrated into the frame, however, this essential reinforcing makes the frames far bulkier than other materials. Look for systems with a slim frame depth (front to back) but also consider how bulky the frames are when you look at them straight on – after all, you are buying a conservatory to enjoy looking through the glass – not at the frames!

Systems at the cheaper end of the market will typically have chunkier frames and this becomes particularly noticeable if the conservatory is smaller. A good way of assessing the difference is to observe the conservatories you see around you – once you know what to look for you will soon start to see the difference it can make.

Talking Aluminium

Aluminium is inherently strong and makes an ideal material for conservatories, especially those that are particularly large or where they may be exposed to severe weather conditions.

Aluminium conservatories have a ‘powder-coated’ paint finish (see glossary of terms opposite) which is a particularly durable and an easy to maintain finish for both the internal and external surfaces of the conservatory. Another feature that makes aluminium very popular is that it can be extruded with very fine details so that traditional features can be built into the designs to give a more authentic appearance which is particularly important to many homeowners. Modern ‘New Generation’ aluminium is very thermally efficient as it features a ‘thermal break’ which effectively separates the exterior and interior surfaces to stop heat and cold crossing from outside to inside.

The structural strength of aluminium also makes it the perfect choice for some of the more contemporary styles of conservatory that are emerging, especially those that span more than a single storey.


For some homeowners nothing can compete with authentic timber, the original conservatory material. Superb thermal performance, unrestricted design and a choice of colours and finishes all add to its appeal.

Timber conservatories can be either hardwood or softwood and the difference between the two is considerable. Softwood is a considerably cheaper option but will have a far shorter lifespan and will need a lot more maintenance during its life than hardwood.

Timber conservatories are usually custom-designed to your exact requirements and can incorporate the same locking and glazing options that you would expect with other materials. If you do decide to look at timber, then take particular care to understand how they will be constructed – most use traditional mortice and tenon joints, but there are other jointing methods in use.

A final word about timber – just as frame thickness is an issue with PVCu conservatories, the same is true of timber ones. Although timber has been used for many years as a framing material, the use of modern, heavy double glazed glass has meant that the timber sections need to be much larger.

See our full conservatory buyer’s guide for advice on choosing a conservatory, the many styles available, the pros and the cons of different materials and how planning law applies to glass conservatories.

Next week: Ventilation, Shading and Heating.


Our showrooms are our shop windows and we have invested heavily to create extensive displays that best showcase our large range of windows, doors and living spaces. You will receive a warm welcome, plus a proper coffee, and the choice to browse at your leisure without interruption.


Want to speak with an Advisor? Give us a call on 08000 825 825

Our friendly team will be pleased to help with any questions you may have.

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