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SPOILING A SHIP….

Mighton Products Mike Derham has spent most of his business life promoting and selling high quality hardware for timber windows. He is baffled to find that some manufacturers still use sub-standard fittings on highly prized and priced timber frames

In my experience most timber window frames are bought and specified at diametrically opposing ends of the housing and home improvement markets: the low end, in which cheaply produced softwood frames are manufactured down to a price for cheaper, budget driven home builds and refurbishments. And at the other end of the scale, windows are specified and installed as part of a high quality refurbishment of a period property and specified after much research by a loving owner or smart developer, intent on preserving the quality and authenticity of the property.

One may understand the use of cheap hardware when the window itself is unlikely to last more than a few years. But for high quality joinery I am surprised at how often I come across manufacturers who, despite the care and skill with which they produce what inevitably are expensive window frames, still insist upon fitting cheap hardware that will corrode within weeks of installation and fail within a few months.

The irony of this is that timber window specialists inevitably (and usually appropriately) see themselves as craftsmen as opposed to ‘fabricators’, producing high quality, hand finished windows that are produced with skill, care and pride and sold – and purchased – as such.

The customers of such products choose them because they believe that they are buying and paying for the very best. But a surprising number of manufacturers undermine their products – and potentially their reputations - by shortening the viable service life of their products with the installation of cheap hardware. This goes against every instinct that I have and surely, makes no sense at all.

Why do quality conscious joinery companies do this?

When inevitably I challenge those in charge of procurement for these producers about their decision to ‘go cheap’ their response remains consistently the same: ‘we need to cut costs’. But when one considers a frame that may sell for more than £1000, such financial savings amount to perhaps £10 for the whole window when buying cheap hardware, with limited guarantees and performance expectations. Is this worth staking a company’s reputation on, when a whole house installation might save a few hundred against an installation costing £20,000 or more? In the age of instant news the old adage of a bad reputation being gained overnight has never been truer.

Hardware must be relative to the cost of the window – savings made by using cheaper alternatives are usually negligible and certainly not worth staking a company’s reputation on. When one considers the care, skill and pride that goes into the joinery processes used to produce the window, it makes no sense whatsoever to then undermine that process but fitting cheap hardware; do they seriously believe that all hardware is manufactured equally?

Cheap products should be avoided at every opportunity in order to maintain the quality of operation and aesthetics for the lifetime of the window. Poor quality products can lose their finish visibly in just a few weeks and can fail in is as little as a few months. Seldom do they come with safeguarding treatments such as PVD for example, or are they covered by worthwhile guarantees.

Specifying and fitting low quality hardware defies common sense, in other words, the proverbial ‘ha’porth of tar’. There are very good reasons for this old cliché.

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