Important things to consider when buying sash windows
Sash windows are an inherent part of British architectural history: they were introduced to England in the late 17th century and remained a sought-after fashion item for over two centuries. Any styled property from this era would be lacking without them, and this is why it’s so important if you are renovating a Georgian, Regency or Victorian property, or building a new house in one of these styles, that you include them.
Wooden double-hung box sash windows arrived in Australia with the early European settlers. With no air conditioning avaliable they understood that fully functioning sash windows allowed for good ventilation and so were well suited to a hot climate. By opening both top & bottom sashes an air current is formed. Cooler air flows through the bottom, as hot air vents from the top. The traditional vertically sliding design and timber construction remained popular for many years before the trend moved towards alternative window types, primarily due to cheaper manufacturing costs.
The word ‘sash’ simply refers to a single frame for glazing. A traditional ‘sliding sash’ window is usually made up of two sashes that slide up and down, one in front, and one behind, in vertical grooves, counterbalanced by lead weights on cords — though in many modern windows, the weights have been replaced with springs. Sliding sash windows can be opened at the top or bottom, or both, depending on the design, and though traditionally they have no outward swing, many modern designs tilt in and out for easy cleaning.
Sash windows traditionally consist of a number of small panes, or ‘lights’ that are held together by glazing bars to create a larger glazed area. This is because glass advancements at the time didn’t allow for very large expanses of clear glazing. The number of panes depended on the era: ‘six over six’ is quintessentially Georgian, though larger ‘eight over eight’ windows were also common. In Victorian times, ‘two over two’ reigned supreme, but throughout the whole period, many other configurations were seen, as well as the inclusion of sidelights.
All too often, joinery companies make the mistake of removing original period timber sashes and replacing them with new models, when if they had simply been restored to their former glory, they would have been perfect. Where possible, existing sashes should always be repaired and waterproofed, but if the windows are beyond repair, or there aren’t any left in place, there are many companies who will manufacture authentic replacements.
Genuine timber sash windows are likely to be the first and only choice for traditionalists and those living in either a Conservation Area or a listed building. You simply cannot achieve the same effect with plastic. Wood is very durable and an excellent insulator, and if taken care of properly, a timber frame can last for centuries. A common misconception is that timber windows are high maintenance, but with the use of modern finishes – available in almost any paint colour or stain imaginable – they really don’t require a lot of upkeep, just some periodic maintenance and to be examined once a year for cracked, flaky paintwork and decay.
Traditionally, sash windows were single glazed with fine glazing bars to hold the panes in place; but modern building regulations make it near impossible to have single glazed windows on a new house, so you may have to sacrifice true authenticity. It is, however, possible to install single glazed windows on many renovations.
Across the UK and Australia there seems to be an alarming increase in the number of homeowners reporting rouge joinery companies. These ‘rogue traders’, otherwise known as ‘cowboys’, seem to have infiltrated the home improvements sector. How do homeowners know what to look out for when engaging an installation company and what to avoid?
Knowledge: The more information you can obtain on the process of installing traditional timber sash windows the better. Research the process and also the company you hire to carry out the works.
References: Ask the company you hire for references and also check online feedback.
Cheap Deals: Specials offers such as 'one day only' deals is one way cowboy joiners put pressure on you to hand over cash quickly.
Premises: A cowboy joinery firm will often provide inadequate contact details, for example just a mobile number. A reputable company will provide business cards and full details including; name, business address and contact numbers.
Availability: Joinery companies who have a good reputation are often in high demand.
Contact us today to discuss your requirements with one of our helpful and friendly team. They are always on hand to answer any questions you may have and provide honest and impartial advice. Or for further information please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our head office in Melbourne on +610435972542
Sash Restoration Melbourne Team