Architects are increasingly in favour of timber windows, according to a new survey by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).

Its fourth annual Opinion Trend Monitor highlights the success of its campaign to return timber to the specifiers’ preferred choice for windows, mainly through its Timber Window Accreditation Scheme.

But while awareness of the benefits of timber windows is growing, many volume housebuilders still specify plastic despite growing evidence of its shortcomings in terms of performance and environmental impact.

Seventy-nine per cent of those surveyed had experience of factory-finished windows, compared with 65% in 2003 – evidence that specifiers are moving away from on-site finishing and glazing.

Overall, timber windows are perceived to be at least as good as the best windows made from other materials in terms of their affect on the environment, energy performance, weather performance, security and availability.

But the survey also revealed a lack of confidence in the durability and ease of maintenance of timber windows, with the figures slightly down in 2003 compared with 2002.

BWF Timber Window Scheme manager Adam Frankling said more work was needed to get the message across in these two areas. “Modern timber windows have left these problems in the past. With the timber in BWF accredited timber windows now guaranteed for 30 years, and the paint and stain finishes guaranteed for a minimum of eight and five years respectively, long-life and low maintenance timber windows are a reality.”

Mr Frankling is confident that the guarantees will extend substantially in the near future through research programmes being undertaken by the British Research Establishment.

BWF member St Blaise Ltd of Dorchester has been shortlisted for the conservation and restoration category of the 2003 Wood Awards for its work at the Norfolk House Music Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum.