Archive for the ‘Timber’ Category


Sash Windows Hanging Onto Tradition}

Sash Windows – Hanging onto Tradition


Derek Rogers

When PVC and aluminium replacement windows were first introduced to the market, there were those with no appetite for conservation and preservation of our heritage, whose main priority was to cost effectively replace tiresome and decaying timber windows. Wooed by the sales messages that promised maintenance-free products for the ever after, these home owners were happy to accept the limited designs available, believing them secure and trouble free.

Over time, these windows did not prove to deliver on their promises. They were seen to be prone to erosion and discoloration. Many designs became fire traps in what were often the lower income households where safety was not always top of the agenda. Subsequently, fires resulting from faulty electrics, careless smoking and cheap furniture, in houses where exitless windows had been installed, became a lethal combination.

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Sash windows are a particularly emotive subject in the world of windows and in complete contrast to those mentioned above, there are those who would never replace their original windows. Very often sashes feature in Victorian and other period homes which carry with them a certain snobbery. A three bedroom Victorian terraced house will be priced to reflect its history and tradition despite its higher maintenance costs and often more time consuming life style. And, naturally, the sash windows have to be timber to continue the look and feel of period charm, regardless of the normally hideous wasted energy lost through them every year.

In days gone by, timber sash windows were lovingly restored and serviced by owners who in those days had the time and inclination, and the skill, for home maintenance. In addition, there were expert joiners and window specialists who made it their business to provide a professional and caring service – true craftsmen now retired and replaced by a jack of all trades decorator, who will cover your cords in white gloss and stick up your windows if you don’t keep your eye on him.

Of course, there are still companies that do a fabulous job with maintaining and repairing sash windows, although few and far between, and for those who cannot bear to part with the original sash windows – this writer being a case in point – it is worth trawling the internet and researching referrals to find them. But, in fact, these services are extremely expensive and it is estimated that a house of sash windows overhauled with draught-proofing will take five to twenty five years to recoup the cost in terms of energy savings. Only if the home owner is in it for the long term is this economically viable. Even then, the old windows provide fresh air and ventilation essential for a healthy environment which has prompted government guidelines on trickle vent installation into newly built properties to prevent condensation and rot. So too much draught proofing can cause other issues!

Nowadays we have the best of both worlds. There are some superb PVC sash windows and aluminium sash windows which are available in a huge range of colours and finishes and are very difficult to tell apart from timber. The advantages are numerous in that they really don’t need to be maintained; they really do outlive the building’s useful life and won’t detract from the value of a property.

Timber sash windows can be built in any style of sash window required. And these timber sashes can be built featuring all of the new sash window security and sash window draught proofing technologies available. They can be built to match existing timber windows where the bother of refurbishment is simply not cost effective or where perhaps freedom from draughts or ease of use is essential.

Options include some nifty locking systems and child proofing to prevent accidents. Sash windows in any material can be built with a fire escape option to ensure no unnecessary risk of death in case of fire, and can conveniently open to allow access for cleaning in hard to reach areas, such as the second floor or attic conversion windows.

Luckily, the world of replacement windows really has moved on. In this new era of throwaway, where everything has built in obsolescence, we no longer have enough craftsmen available to nurture or resurrect our period windows, so we are happy to dump them and start again. The sash window industry has finally filled that gap in the market with flexible, beautiful, robust products. Like me, hanging on to the heritage of solid timber may be the way you prefer to go, but just take a peep at the new materials and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. For information on windows, he recommends Henry James Doors, a leading supplier of

sash windows


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Sash Windows – Hanging onto Tradition