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Glass & Glazing Interiors & Interior Design

More affordable alternatives to the renowned Crittall windows and doors


Loved by architects and interior designers alike, Crittall doors and windows are still big news in the architectural world. As we all know they’re very expensive. In this article Colin Greenslade of Colin’s Sash Windows, https://colinssashwindows.co.uk/ one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of aluminium alternatives, discusses the options to get the look on a smaller budget.

A bit of history

I’m sure all the readers will know this but just in case you don’t…….Crittall, a renowned brand, specialises in crafting steel-framed glazing featuring the iconic W20 profile, a design embraced by numerous other suppliers as well. This profile offers exceptionally slim sight lines, combining striking aesthetics with impressive durability and thermal efficiency. Originating in the 1850s, the W20 profile initially found its place in Victorian industrial structures before gaining prominence in residential buildings during the 1920s and 1930s. The Art Deco era further popularized these frames, inspiring individuals to incorporate decorative, curved windows, enhancing their appeal through intricate fenestration designs.

The more affordable aluminium alternative

Manufactured by Smart Architectural Systems are the Alitherm Heritage double glazed for exterior use and matching internal Aluspace are the UK’s closest matching alternatives. Fabricated in aluminium the internal system is almost as slim as steel and is the thinnest aluminium profile currently available. They also have the all important integrated lock housing like the originals.

Exterior design style

These aluminium systems offer remarkable versatility, seamlessly adapting to various architectural styles, including Victorian, 1930s, and contemporary homes. With the flexibility to customize fenestration, you can effortlessly achieve a distinct aesthetic. For properties dating from the 1920s onwards, the Alitherm Heritage serves as an excellent choice for replacement windows throughout the entire residence. Whether your house exudes an industrial ambiance or boasts charming cottage-style leaded light windows, Alitherm Heritage can harmoniously complement the design. The aluminium frame is thermally broken offering acceptable u values with 28mm double glazed units.

Interior design style

As the pandemic blurred the boundaries between home and work life, many homeowners are experiencing a shift in their preferences away from open-plan living, a concept once highly sought after. Families are now seeking distinct zones within their homes that can serve various functions while preserving the cherished influx of natural light. Glass doors and partitions are emerging as an increasingly popular solution to this evolving need.

The Aluspace interior systems are almost as slim as steel. The profile is designed for 6mm glass. Although they are a bit slimmer than the exterior Heritage they complement each other perfectly. Aluspace is frequently employed as a screen or partition, facilitating the infusion of abundant natural light into the area while maintaining a degree of separation or “zoning” between distinct areas.

These installations effectively preserve light and visibility throughout a building, concurrently offering the option to enclose spaces and accommodate various activities within a shared space. Steel-framed glazing proves highly advantageous for specific projects, harmonizing with other interior elements to establish a cohesive ambiance.

It’s important to note that one need not be limited to an “industrial warehouse” aesthetic; instead, it serves as a versatile means to craft distinctive internal design features.

Glass walls also deliver a remarkable “wow factor.” When redesigning a space, most individuals aspire to incorporate a distinctive and eye-catching element, and an internal glass wall remains a distinctive and unconventional choice.

Transparent glass permits the flow of light and scenic vistas, ensuring a seamless transition between spaces while maintaining their individual identities. In contrast, the use of reeded glass, sandblasted glass, or other obscured glass variants preserves visual privacy while still permitting the passage of light and creating a sense of interconnectedness between spaces.

With Aluspace there is a choice of hinged, sliding or pivot doors. It’s worth noting that pivot doors can be up to 200cm wide even though they’re aluminium

Disadvantages of aluminium alternatives

Aluminium is not as strong so there are width and height restrictions compared to steel. Top lights and side lights can be added matching the segmented style. Additionally, steel is slimmer but for the vast majority of people the cost saving with aluminium and a similar look is the way forward. You still get the “wow factor” The only other significant disadvantage with aluminium is that it’s not suitable for use as a fire door or stairwell screen.

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