Strong yet comparatively slim steel frame sections are well recognised amongst architects for offering excellent light transmission, while the slender sightlines are also ideal for allowing windows to “bring the outdoors in.” However, contemporary systems available from members of the Steel Window Association (SWA) can also play a pivotal role in influencing interior fitouts.
The unexpected property boom from the pandemic included people adding extensions or improving their homes and saw SWA members responding to high demand for both classic and contemporary steel windows, doors and interior screens. In fact, the latter has proved ideal for creating home offices or sub-dividing living spaces without significantly cutting light reaching deep plan areas; while introducing an aesthetic often described as industrial but also sophisticated.
Getting the best from these versatile, high-performance systems does, though, require careful consideration of both potential suppliers and between the multiple systems available which offer a choice of performance as well as appearance.
Ethan Blackman, contracts coordinator for long-established SWA member, Cotswold Casements, said: “In terms of the way projects are specified, normally we get clients (property owners) being directed to visit our showroom by their design consultants once the decision to utilise steel frames has been made, so that they can decide on items like ironmongery or type of opening light.”
“While a lot of our clients have already decided that they want the slim sections and large pane size that steel windows offer, they still want to view the past projects to help visualise how their own properties might turn out. There are a lot of nice-looking buildings on our website including commercial buildings! Normally they will send us their architects’ drawings detailing what they are trying to achieve. We will then respond with CAD drawings and a quote.”
“We’ve also invested in a new CRM system which enables everyone involved in a contract, including the client and our production team, to keep track. Plus, we have new window making software – all of which helps improve the customer journey, and the turnaround time.”
Interestingly, there is a perception in the market that the vast majority of steel doors and windows are produced in black, but while it is a popular colour, Cotswold Casements is one of the SWA members seeing a lot of interest in Anthracite and other shades of grey, as well as brighter colours, like Cotswold Green, white and even the stark ‘Industrial Patina’ finish. The latter is proving particularly popular for warehouse and barn conversions, along with heritage buildings generally.
Property owners and professionals can use the “Find a member” facility on the SWA website to identify a manufacturer in their locality or offering the particular area of speciality that their project requires, in order to obtain a steel window package produced to a high standard which will be correctly installed.
The SWA offers UK wide coverage with member companies able to carry out the full range of contracts from the repair and restoration of heritage windows through to the installation of major fenestration packages in contemporary commercial, residential and other types of developments.