Sash Window Problems and How To Fix Them

Sash windows definitely have a cachet, and let’s face it, they are stylish and beautiful in both period and contemporary homes, but beauty does come at a cost and sash windows are known to be temperamental. They can have a bit of a reputation!

T o know a sash window is to love it because the more you know and understand about these stunning architectural features, the easier they are to look after.

Sticky Windows

Timber sash windows do take some upkeep. The joy of timber is its appearance, it has a natural and textured appeal that just can’t be replicated with uPVC or metal. However, timber changes and swells and shrinks according to the season and the weather, so it not only needs maintenance but some care and attention to keep those sash windows sliding smoothly. Frames and timber that have swollen or shrunk cause rattling, sticking and draughts.

The key to smooth-running windows is good care and maintenance of the timber frame. Wind and rain impact wood, causing cracking and soft areas of rot and decay, which all affect the structure of the frame, creating warping and gaps which impede the run of the window, causing it to stick. This also generates draughts and condensation.

Regular checks of the wood’s integrity to spot soft or rotten areas will protect the structure of the frame. When it comes to repainting, the wood should be stripped back, treated and then the paint surface built up with primer, undercoat and top coats. Just layering more paint on top of old will disguise hidden areas of damaged wood, and this also affects the fit of the window as, eventually, the layers of paint will be too thick. Sash windows usually need repainting every three or four years, especially those on the south and west-facing walls, which are most exposed to sun and rain. Stripping the wood and repainting should take place when the wood is completely dry, so the summer months are a favourite time for this.

Autumn is a favourite time for sash windows to stick as the weather changes and there is more moisture. Oiling the wood can help ensure the frames run smoothly.

If you are replacing old timber windows with new ones and want to avoid uPVC, then there are engineered woods available like Accoya, which are extremely durable and withstand weathering. This means that the intervals between when the windows are stripped and repainted can be extended. Accoya starts life as a rapid-growing pine tree. Pine is a soft wood not usually used for window frames, but this raw timber is treated via a modification or acetylation process using acetic acid to create something dimensionally stable and incredibly tough and weather-resistant. Accoya is more durable than teak, one of the toughest hardwoods. Accoya is less prone to the dimensional changes that other hardwoods exhibit when they are exposed to moisture. In the damp UK climate, this means that sash windows are less temperamental and run smoothly, and require less extensive maintenance to protect against rot.

Draughts and Condensation

Sash windows need to be snug to avoid draughts which can mean the room is always cold and any heating is lost to the great outdoors.

Sash windows often require adjustment, so they sit properly in the frames and run freely up and down without gaps which let in the draughts. Draught-proofing strips can be fitted to either side of the frame to close that minuscule gap without affecting the operation of the window. These can be obtained from a DIY retailer, you just roll them out and push them into the gaps. You can also add adhesive sealer strips on the bottom and top frames to help repel draughts.

Draughts can often find their way in via failed putty or beading. Loose or absent putty needs to be replaced as soon as possible otherwise, water will find its way into the timber, and the wood will start to rot.

Older sash windows are commonly single glazed, which allows a build-up of condensation, plus single, glazing is less thermally efficient. Condensation develops when warm air inside the house hits cold panes of glass. Glass chills either because it has poor insulation or gaps have developed in the frame due to changes and shrinkage in the wood.

New sash windows can support heavier and more robust glazing. Older windows will benefit from new state-of-the-art products like Fineo glass which offers all the thermal insulation of triple glazing in a lightweight single pane, perfect for old windows which can’t support thick or heavy glass.

Broken Cords

Over time, the constant pressure of the lead weights and simple friction wear cords thin, and they break. Old sash windows can be re-corded by someone with the right knowledge. New timber sash windows are fitted with a spring mechanism which avoids this problem.

We offer full restoration and repair services for sash windows; small repairs can be undertaken in situ, or the windows removed to our workshops for extensive renovation. Old windows can be refurbished with new glazing and draught-proofing. Timber is stripped down, repaired and treated with wood treatments followed by a spray-painted finish for perfect, even coverage. We also manufacture new sash and casement windows for period and contemporary properties available in a huge range of styles, sizes and shapes, which offer all the beauty of this iconic window design combined with modern 21st-century thermal regulation and soundproofing.

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