Whole life costs and best value are important considerations for anyone working on the building envelope. The cost of a product for its entire lifetime will take into account its installation cost, maintenance costs as well as its longevity. PVC-UE has excellent whole life costs as you can read about here.
PVC-UE and Timber
When considering a material’s lifecycle expectancy and cost, it is important to study a comparison with the most common replacement. It is important too to observe the environmental impact of the alternative material to add up the cost and complete the life cycle analysis.
The main alternative to PVC-UE in the building sector is timber. Both materials have similar workability, versatility and finished appearance. The most commonly used timber is softwood. For timber, two keys areas should be considered: the ongoing maintenance cost and the initial cost of the component.
When PVC-UE is detailed as a substitute for timber, it is important to understand the cost comparison including the maintenance requirement and any environmental impact of the intended replacement product over time. In addition, the comparative sustainability of the original timber component should be considered when determining the best value for the material specification. Because timber distribution channels are longer and more fragmented, traceability is often not possible. PVC-UE and timber components have an installed cost which will be largely the same.
But the differences become apparent when you note that PVC-UE is a finished product with no surface coatings needed for protection from the elements. Timber will require a preparatory treatment of preservatives stains or paints to bring the long term performance up to that of PVC-UE. These treatments will be required again on a regular repeat cycle. Many local authorities use three, five or seven year refurbishment cycles. These treatments are extremely expensive and the quality and performance of the treatment can vary.
PVC-UE is fitted once and has a working life of 30 years plus with a minimal maintenance requirement.