What Are the Main Issues with Sash Windows

Sash windows are a prized period feature on old houses and a design of choice on many new builds looking to create classic lines, but a lot of people are more than a little afraid of them.

S liding sash windows are a window you have to operate rather than open and close, and they have acquired something of a tricky reputation, you could say even a bad press when it comes to management.

The Main Problems with Sash Windows

The first key issue which affects timber sash windows is that they stick after absorbing moisture. Casement windows can do the same, but they are just easier to open, sash windows won’t always operate smoothly on their rope and pulley mechanism making it difficult to slide the panels up and down.

Timber doors and windows are all affected by the changing seasons causing the timber to shrink slightly in dry weather and then swell as it absorbs moisture during the autumn and winter. Sliding sash windows are meant to slide and sticky windows create a bumpy ride!

The next challenge for sash window owners and keepers is the cord and pulley system. The old-style cord will stretch over a number of years taking the panels out of balance and affecting their operation. Eventually, the cords become frayed or damaged and will then break.

Another common complaint of sash window owners is that these windows are draughty. Old windows historically had thin panes of glass as the frames were unable to support thicker and better-insulated glazing which wasn’t available anyway. The fact the window panels have to run up and down also militates against a snug fit when the window is closed, creating that hallmark sash window rattle.

Finally, rot can more easily go unnoticed with a sash window because of its design and opening style. So, if you are considering sash windows as part of a new build or renovation or have just bought an old house with sash windows that have clearly seen better days, what is the solution?

Effective Care and Maintenance of Sliding Sash Windows

Sash windows aren’t exactly a labour of love, but they do need regular care and attention, this is what will keep them free of all those niggles and operating issues. A good programme of care and repair contains things any householder can do and should look something like this.

  • Clean the windows regularly with a microfibre cloth, this helps prevent the build-up of dust and grime which affects their operation. A microfibre cloth avoids static which is what attracts dust and dirt
  • Oil the windows regularly after cleaning them to aid smooth running, this also helps avoid snagging and unnecessary wear and tear as the window is repeatedly forced over sticky areas
  • Replace insulation as necessary
  • Paint the windows regularly, every 3-4 years to protect the woodwork. This is a golden opportunity to inspect the windows for any rot or damage which may not normally be visible and to examine the rope and pulley system
  • Replace damaged or frayed cords when the windows are refurbished or sooner as required. The windows can become damaged if the cord system isn’t working properly

Regular maintenance and care stop small problems from developing into large ones. For the homeowner, it more or less guarantees that the windows will work properly when opening and closing and they are a thing of joy rather than something you dread.

Modern Materials

Sliding sash windows have a timeless elegance associated with past centuries, the problem is that they can really lack any form of meaningful thermal regulation so despite their beauty, a room can remain cold and draughty.

There are now plenty of modern materials which can change up the level of insulation without affecting or detracting from the beauty and operation of these windows.

Old sash windows were never designed to support bulky glass panes but now there are new glazing materials like Fineo glass which offers the thermal regulation of triple glazing in a single lightweight pane, perfect for old windows.

Draughtproofing is something most handy householders can undertake themselves with DIY kits available from hardware stores. If you want a more professional job, then this is something to discuss with your contractor when it comes round to painting time.

Are Sash Windows worth the Trouble?

Sash windows need to be kept in a regular routine of care and maintenance otherwise they can become difficult to operate. Most of the problems associated with this window style can be easily anticipated and prevented with some proactive management, some of which can be done by the householder and the rest by professionals. It’s important to find a window company you can trust to give you good advice and who will look after the windows properly.

We manufacture bespoke new timber sash windows for all types of properties and care, repair and restore countless old windows in period homes up and down the country. We can work on-site or take the windows away to our workshop for a complete renovation. Our expert team of joiners, glaziers, and installers ensures a perfect result for any building no matter how complex. We use the latest modern materials alongside quality timber and traditional techniques to produce windows fit for 21st-century living with acoustic control, draughtproofing, excellent thermal regulation, and that essential smooth operation.

Contact us here to find out more about bespoke sash window design and our repair and restoration services.