UPVC is one of the most commonly used building materials for many modern homes, but very few people actually know what UPVC is and why it’s used. UPVC is an abbreviation of unplasticised polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is a sturdy but lightweight material which is normally made flexible by combining it with other plasticisers. UPVC hasn’t had these plasticisers added, so it remains strong and rigid, which makes it perfect for construction.
The most common uses for UPVC is doors, windows and guttering because it can withstand being exposed to the elements. It can withstand wind and rain, however, heat can cause it to expand. Whilst it shouldn’t cause any of your components to break, it isn’t ideal.
Expanding UPVC can cause issues with opening, shutting or locking doors and windows.
As it cools down, it will return to it’s original size. However, it can be an annoyance if it is a warm summer night and you need to lock up before going to bed. A quick fix is to try pouring cold water over the frame. You can also use a cold, damp cloth.
If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can try to adjust your hinges. UPVC doors are fitted with easy to alter ‘flag’ hinges, which are specifically designed to accommodate for heat expansion. However, adjusting the hinges could be a problem. While it solves the issue in the short term when the door shrinks back, you may struggle to close it again so would need adjusting again.
If the problem keeps happening, it may be worth altering the size of your door or have it replaced. For example, is your door catching on the bottom of the frame? You could consider shaving some length of the bottom of the door. This can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing so it may be worth seeking professional advice first.
So, should you avoid using UPVC?
It does have many benefits. It’s easy to keep clean, robust in design, can withstand wet and cold weather and is often more affordable than wood or aluminium. Heat expansion is a worry as there is a possibility you will need to replace your doors and windows sooner than you’d like. It’s not that UPVC is a bad building material, after all, it is the popular choice for building materials, it’s just deciding if it is the right choice for you.