Building Your Conservatory - The Frame
The first consideration you need to make when planning your conservatory is the frame. Once you have decided on the design of your conservatory you will need to consider which type of material your frame will be built from.
PVCu is the cheapest and most popular choice of frame material for conservatories, especially for the DIY builder as it is easy to work with and requires low maintenance. PVCu does not need to have a preservative applied and can be left unpainted for a few years if you so wish. The appearance of the PVCu however is a disadvantage as it looks quite obviously like PVCu and cannot be disguised very well. If you are using PVCu do make sure it has been strengthened with a core of corrosion protected aluminium or steel, as on it's own it is not very strong.
Aluminium or Steel Frame
Aluminium or Steel is quite obviously a stronger choice of frame material for your conservatory. It is more expensive than PVCu, but if you can afford it will look a lot better, and is a lot more useful when building a bigger conservatory where large spans are required. To avoid corrosion of the frame the material is usually either powder coated or galvanized and usually only comes in a colour choice of white or brown.
A more traditional look is to use stone or brick for your frame or part of. If you are extending onto an older house then this may be in keeping more with it's original character. The main advantage of having masonry walls in your conservatory is that it will heat up a lot slower in summer, yet retain the heat in winter and vice versa with the cold.
A timber frame can be designed and cut to match just about any style of house, old or new. It is probably the most attractive frame material to use when building your conservatory. You must make sure that the timber has been thoroughly treated and then either stained or painted. Having a timber frame will require more maintenance than any of the above as it will need periodic painting or staining. You can choose either hardwood or softwood. Softwood is the cheaper option, and is easier to work with, however it is more likely to shrink and expand and is prone to rot. Hardwood is the more expensive option as it looks better, is a more durable, and doesn't warp. It generally doesn't need a preservative or paint coating.