Roger Bisby’s Product Testing Report

Roger Bisby fitting a Keylite Roof WindowThese days builders have a good choice of different makes of roof windows but unless there is a compelling reason to change most of us tend to carry on with what we know. Like many others I may have just jogged along but in my job as Product Tester for Professional Builder I have been given the opportunity of trying them all and it isn’t until you try something different that you realise what was wrong with the old one. How many times, for example, have you struggled getting that sash back in after fitting the frame with the hooks dangling, or tried to haul a roof window up onto the scaffold? I have done it many times and nearly dropped the sash on occasions but, until now, I had never really thought about the possibility of someone coming up with a design that allowed you to put the window in from the inside without removing the sash. The problem has always been that once you have screwed the brackets on you then have to manoeuvre the frame through the trimmed opening and with the sash in you have nothing to grab. The prospect of it sliding down the roof as you let go is not to be dwelled on.

Roger Bisby fitting a Keylite Roof WindowKeylite’s unique approach is the “Flick-Fit” bracket – a hinged bracket pre-fitted to the windowframe. The really clever part is that you can adjust the brackets for tiles or slates simply by removing the colour coded plastic plugs and then just flick them out into the fitting position. The window can then be rested on the lower trimmer and lifted up into place. Once it is clear of the top trimmer you simply flick the top brackets out into place and the window is rested back in place. If you open the window you can then put a screw in each of the bottom brackets. You then close the window to check it is square before going outside to screw in the top brackets and put another couple of screws in the lower bracket.

From that point on you can proceed as usual with the roof covering and flashing as you go. So the whole window has been fitted from within without the need to remove the sash. That covers a very common scenario but we also know that there are times when you have an existing roof, where you are adding a loft conversion, and you really would rather complete the whole job of flashing from the inside. You may not even have scaffolded the front elevation. In this case you can remove the sash in the normal way but the unique selling point of a Keylite window is that if you are working from above to do the flashing then you don’t have to.

Roger Bisby fitting a Keylite Roof WindowApart from this unique Flick fit bracket what else has Keylite got to tempt you away from your existing choice? Well the site I carried out my installation test on belongs to Paul Stanton of Estructura who is converting it for his own home. He had chosen Keylite windows because he has used them on other builds and likes the quality but he particularly likes the factory finished white timber interior. “The other ones I looked at all had PVCu and I really didn’t want plastic windows in this traditional property. These just look classy. They also have a much wider range of sizes than the other guys and can even do specials.”

Paul was intending to carry out the slating over the Easter holidays  but he handed me a few sample slates so I could see how the flashings sat on the slates.  The front apron for slates is a single piece of  aluminium which is pressed  to provide a low profile. This allows the window to sit much lower in the roof more like a traditional skylight.  If you are tiling then the tile flashing has the familiar corrugated lead apron.  I particularly liked the way that the first soaker is marked up so you know which is left and right and there is also a mark on the front apron to tell you where to place the soaker.  In fact there are very clear instructions all over the window so if for example the instruction leaflet blew away in the wind and was chewed up by next door’s Rottweiler  you would still be able to proceed just from the information  printed on the side of the frame.

Roger Bisby fitting a Keylite Roof WindowHaving fitted my first Keylite apart from the slating I went for a quick bit of lunch in a lovely pub overlooking Froggat in the Peak District. On the way back home I popped in to see how Paul was getting on with the other windows and was surprised to see that in the hour I had been gone he had fitted four  more windows.  I asked him if he was going to take a break for a cuppa and he told me he had done.  Four windows in an hour with a tea break is not bad going by anyone’s standards. At his rate it could become an Olympic sport.  I wonder what the world record would be for flicking out four brackets and screwing it onto the roof. Keylite Roof Windows are Flickin Brilliant.

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