CE Marking – how will this affect you as a buyer of hardwood windows and doors?

From July 1st the windows and doors manufacturing industry will be legally obliged to put a CE mark of approval on all products that are made and sold after this date.

At first glance you may feel that this is an unnecessary burden on manufacturers which can only add to the cost of the production which will result in the customer paying for that in the end.

In many cases you may be right but it may not be all doom and gloom. Let us try and explain what the processes are and what benefits they may bring to you as a customer.

What is a CE label and why should it appear on handmade windows and doors?

The CE marking or formerly EC mark, is a mandatory conformity marking for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1993. The CE marking is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product he sells meets the requirements of the applicable EC directives.

All in all it means that the manufacturer has to verify that the product complies with all relevant essential requirements such as safety, health and environmental protection requirements of the applicable directive.

It is also obligatory for all such products made in third countries (non-member states of the European Community) sold in the EEA. In this case, the importer has to make sure that the manufacturer outside the EU has taken the necessary steps that allow him to affix the CE marking.

What does a windows and doors manufacturer have to comply with to get a CE mark?

CE Marking on windows and doors covers a raft of performance characteristics via BS EN 14351  which can be distilled down to the three fundamentals that are required for regulatory compliance in the UK; the U value, the load bearing capacity of safety devices and confirmation that no dangerous substances are released under normal use.

To qualify for a CE Mark products must achieve the prescribed levels of performance as outlined but also be manufactured in line with a factory production control system (FPC). This clearly creates issues for those fabricators and installers who buy-in frames and glass separately.

However, requirements are not designed to be a difficult process – we as joinery manufacturers have to declare a few characteristics to show the products performance; most manufacturers do this already and this is just asking for some mandatory requirements to be declared.

So what are the benefits to you as a potential purchaser of timber doors and windows?

In short, you as a customer can satisfy yourself on a number of levels that your products are manufactured and fitted to recognised (and normally high) standards of quality. The wood will be from a sustainable source and the processes of manufacture will have been agreed with a factory production control procedure to measure it.

As an industry however the onus will be a burden and particularly on the smaller joiner and the smaller installer. Those that do not comply run the risk of legal action and punishment by fines or worse in more serious cases.

However, for those that do comply it means that there is a recognised level of quality about the product they sell which will be of particular reassurance to those purchasers that may be about to spend a small fortune on products that they previously had no idea of how they came to be.

Obviously there are cowboys In every industry and sadly there will still be some in this one. But this system of marking will begin to wheedle them out. So if you are faced with an installer who is just about to fit windows or doors that have no marking ask him to provide you with is declaration of conformity. He must provide it. It will be in your interests to do so as although we don’t know now, it may become important when the time comes to sell your house.