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Sash Windows -Why restoration, not replacement of sash windows is better for your pocket and the environment.

The UK has a significant stock of older houses, a good number of which are fitted with traditional sash windows. Often these are past their best, with broken sash cords or have been sealed closed with layers of overpainting.

Every day we waste time, money and resources on unnecessary new windows because of an 'out with the old, in with the new' attitude.

But Paul Burnett from The Sash Window Man explains why you should renovate not replace your old wooden sash windows, and outlines the benefits of using an ethical window company which supports sustainability.

Seven reasons to repair not replace:

1. Old wood is better than new wood. The timber used to make old windows was often grown slower and dried naturally (not in a kiln) which means it was of a better quality than most of the stock available today.

2. Fixing existing windows is less disruptive. Replacing a complete window often causes damage to the internal plasterwork, requiring replacement of existing mouldings, window boards and any internal panels.

3. Repairing and restoring old sash windows is cheaper than installing new windows.

4. Replacement is often unnecessary. A window that may look rotten or beyond repair to a layman can often be restored very satisfactorily by professionals.

5. Existing windows look more authentic than new ones.

6. For restoration to existing windows, there is no need to apply for costly planning permission or building regulation approval.

7. The acoustic and thermal performance of your home can be improved at the same time as the repairs are carried out. By adding discreet integral draught proofing, your home will be warmer and quieter, without changing the look. This is done by fixing a draught proof brush pile into the back of the meeting rail on the bottom sash. This helps to prevent rattling and unwanted draughts and has the added advantage of making the windows slide better.

Don't seal your sashes!
An interesting fact that many people are unaware of is that box sash windows ventilate a room most efficiently when both top and bottom sashes are open at the same time. When both sashes are open the hot air goes out of the top and cool air is sucked in through the bottom. This is why it is not a good idea to seal your top sashes permanently shut and just rely on opening the bottom sash.

For further information about restoring your sash windows (or replacing if you really must!) contact The Sash Window Man With branches in Brighton and London, they operate throughout the South East of England.

Featured suppliers: are a London based traditional sash window specialist, offering all services from a simple cord replacement to a full overhaul and draught proof of an existing vertical sliding sash window. DIY draught proofing kits are also for sale, with a full step by step instruction manual.
Eco Frame Systems
Timber frames specialists and suppliers of Austrian Gaulhofer triple glazed windows and doors that meet the Passivhaus standard along with Fakro rooflights.

Windows and upvc

Sadly many people replace old timber windows with low quality modern Upvc. Not only could this lower the value of your house, but if your are in a listed building, or live in a conservation area, it may be illegal too.

According to Greenpeace, uPVC should be avoided if possible -see this Greenpeace article for the reasons why it is environmentally unsound. If you have old timber windows, you can also find a good article by the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings on repairing timber windows.

It is important to have good thermal performance -double or triple glazing is part of this, as is the frame. Ideally the frame will be thermally broken, or made from a solid material such as timber. A lot can be gained by using thermally insulating glass -see the Pilkington website for more on this.

Window Manufacturers:

  • British Woodworking Federation -BWF Timber Window Accreditation Scheme.
  • Broxwood -independent UK supplier of bespoke Scandinavian and Austrian timber windows and doors. Alsdo do aluminium clad composite units. Showroom in Perth.
  • Crittall -the original manufacturer of steel windows.
  • Gaulhofer -Austrian manufacturer of triple glazed composite timber and aluminium windows and doors, along with frameless systems.
  • Howarth Timber (Windows & Doors) Ltd. -one of the UK's leading manufacturers of high performance softwood windows and door sets.
  • EcoPlus -available through the Green Building Store, Ecoplus aim to set the highest standard for environmental criteria and are fully sourced from FSC Certified Timber.
  • Jeld Wen -manufacturer of timber doors and windows including John Carr and Boulton & Paul ranges.
  • Heritage Window Company -suppliers and installers of Benenden slimline aluminium windows for conservation projects. Their windows were featured on TVs Grand Designs Art Deco house project. Showrooms in Kent, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.
  • Mumford and Wood -high quality joinery windows, including their 'Conservation' range which offers period sash window styles, together with French doorsets and casement windows and a 'Contemporary' range of tilt-turn windows, as well as a more economical range of casements and doors.
  • Sash Repairs -repairs and draught proofing for sash windows in the London area -their aim is to repair, rather than replace.
  • SPS Timber Windows -design, manufacture and install box sash, casement windows and doors in London.
  • Steel Window Service and Supplies -London based company established in 1951 specialising in the overhauling, refurbishment, servicing and upgrading of existing mild-steel windows and doors.
  • Swedhouse -Scandinavian timber windows and doors.
  • The Original Box Sash Windows Company -based in Windsor, they manufacture and installers of traditional oak sash windows and hinged casement windows and doors, to look just like the originals yet fitted with double, or triple glass, sealed units.
  • Velfac -design and manufacture composite aluminium and wood glazing to architects' specifications.
  • Ventrolla -the sash window repair and renovation specialists.

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Featured books:

Building Basics: Windows and Skylights (Building Basics)
William P. Spence Paperback
Price in UK pounds

Working Windows: A Guide to the Repair and Restoration of Wood Windows
Terry Meany
Lyons Press
Paperback - June 2005
Price in UK pounds
Price in US dollars

Residential Windows: A Guide to New Technologies and Energy Performance
J Carmody
Aug 2007
Price in UK pounds

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