A Whiter Shade of Pale: Which Is the Best Colour For Your Sash Windows?

Traditionally, wooden sash windows are white but, there is white and white. One of the criticisms about uPVC windows is the brilliance of the white plastic.

Brilliant white does not work well with a period property but fortunately, there are lots of different shades of white for both sash and casement windows which can avoid the bright look and luminescence of brilliant white (not a colour found in nature) and soften the shade to complement mellow brick or stonework whilst still retaining that classic look

Different Shades of White

Any bridal boutique will tell you that there are lots of different shades of white ranging from satin white through ivory to cream. White as a fabric looks good on very few people and so most ‘white’ wedding dresses are actually a variation on the theme. In graphic design, there are 122 different categorised shades of white.

Here are some names for different shades of white.

  • Eggshell
  • Dirty white
  • Off white
  • Winter white
  • Pearl
  • Baby powder
  • Snow
  • Alabaster
  • Cotton
  • Ivory

White is not just white, it’s also not just one colour. Pearl has a slight luminescence with tiny flecks of pink, cotton almost has a grain to it whereas ghost white has subtle hues of grey and blue which look fabulous with granite stonework.

The right shade of white will depend upon the façade of the house, whether it is mellow, warm brick, stonework, Victorian flint or a whitewashed cottage. Pretty Cornish cottages in classic whitewash (granite at the front, cob at the back but all painted white) look lovely with seaside blue sashes. Flint cottages on the Norfolk Norfolk coast often have sashes in a muted blue or sage green as an alternative to white or cream.

Contemporary properties are not subject to the same restrictions as period properties so the sash windows can be any colour. Because modern properties often tend to be presented with a dark-coloured acrylic render on the exterior, dark grey, pebbly grey or black are all popular colour choices for timber frames and work much better than a pale shade or white.

Changing Window Colour on Period or Listed Properties

If you own a traditional or period property that’s either listed or in a Conservation Area or both, then you probably won’t be able to change the window colour, definitely not if the property is listed. See if you can agree on a slightly softer shade with the Listings Officer. It’s likely that if the house is Georgian or earlier, that brilliant white never was the original look anyway but you must have the paint shade approved otherwise you could face a hefty fine plus an order to repaint all the windows in an approved colour.

Types of Paint

Wooden painted sash windows are the best and most historically correct choice for period properties. However, timber is high maintenance and requires ongoing care whereas you can virtually forget about uPVC.

Getting a decent paint job in the first place is key to how long the windows and the paintwork will last and, as every good installer knows, the key to a good and durable finish is preparation. Windows need to be stripped back to the base wood, treated for any rot and repaired and then sanded and prepared with a primer followed by an undercoat, usually two layers and another two layers of topcoat. Big brand names tend to provide the best results and you know your colour choice is bound to only be available from one of the most expensive manufacturers! However, you do get what you pay for and it’s worth the extra cost because your paintwork and your windows will stay looking good for longer plus, decent paint protects the timber against weathering.

Choose brands which advertise as being weatherproof. Technology has revolutionised paint products. There are high-sheen glosses that dry to a film-like consistency which doesn’t fade, crack or peel despite alternating sun and rain.

Newly constructed wooden sash windows are usually sprayed as part of the manufacture. It’s easier to paint the window because it’s not in the frame and quicker than the laborious process of stripping down old windows in situ, applying primer, undercoat and then a topcoat.

We offer repair and restoration services for old sash windows using modern treatments and paints partnered with traditional craftsmanship and techniques. Enjoy sash windows with thermal regulation, excellent draught-proofing and acoustics without any loss of character or classic style. We also produce new casement and wooden sash windows in a range of shapes and styles to suit all types of property, old and new.

Contact us here to find out more about our restoration services and range of new timber sash and casement windows.