The Ultimate Guide to Timber Sash Windows | Joinery Solutions SW

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The Ultimate Guide to Timber Sash Windows

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The Ultimate Guide to Timber Sash Windows

If you live in a period property or you’re looking to add value as well as classic style to your home, then timber sash windows are a great choice. They’re a sustainable, aesthetically pleasing and a practical option with real kerb appeal that can transform the appearance of your home.

If you live in a listed property, replacement timber sash windows may be required. If you already have timber sash windows in a property, then you might be wondering if renovation, restoration, or repair is possible, or whether it’s time to consider an upgrade to new windows.

At Joinery Solutions SouthWest, we support specifiers, property developers, builders and homeowners who appreciate the aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability of the traditional box sash window.

In this ultimate guide we’ll take a look at timber sash windows, what they are, how they work, and the benefits they offer property owners.

What Are Timber Sash Windows?

Traditional sash windows are a type of window that have been used in British and European buildings for hundreds of years.  A traditional sash window consists of two-glass filled panels, with the window opened by sliding the moving panel over the other panel.

This simple design is easy to use and provides excellent ventilation. Contemporary timber sash windows provide high energy efficiency and can be manufactured to incorporate single, double, or triple glazing.

They can be manufactured in a range of styles to suit your property and lifestyle. These include:

  • Barless sashes
  • Centre bar sash windows
  • Triple-light Venetian sashes
  • Flush timber sash windows
  • Full- and half Georgian sash windows
  • Swept head sash windows
  • Sliding sash bay windows

Timber sash windows can also be manufactured from a range of soft and hardwoods, as well as next generation advanced timbers. These include:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Maple
  • Teak
  • European and American White Oak
  • Merenti
  • Idigbo
  • Accoya® (a durable, strong and rot resistant advanced timber)

The History Of Sash Windows

Sash windows have a long history. A system of weights and pulleys was first applied to timber windows in the late 17th century and due to the ventilation benefits and easy opening, this style of traditional timber window grew in popularity over the years.

It was first adopted in stately homes, spreading to townhouses and more humble dwellings over time. Sash windows were used widely during the Georgian era in England and are today often associated with the period.

Period properties from the 18th and early 19th century will often feature timber sash windows. Their popularity continued to grow during the Victorian era, where they were installed in all kinds of properties, from the humblest to the grandest. Their practicality was the main reason for their installation.

The late 19th century and early 20th century saw new developments in window design and manufacture. Casement windows gradually overtook sash windows in terms of popularity, and by the 1950s, timber sash windows were often regarded as old fashioned.

In the decades since, original sash windows in period properties have become more desirable. Replacement timber sash windows are increasingly fitted in period and modern properties. With the introduction of double glazing and other energy efficient elements, timber sash windows aid draught proofing.

Timber sash windows add character and visual appeal to a property, as well as value. Anyone looking to improve the appearance and energy efficiency of their home should consider modern timber sash windows.

How Do Timber Sash Windows Work?

There are now a range of sash windows available but all of them share a basic set of design principles. To open the window, the panels are able to slide across each other. This allows for the window to be opened to the required degree.

Usually, sash windows will be designed and fitted to open vertically. These use a weighted system in order to open the window and to keep it in the required position. A cast-iron or lead counterweight is hung inside the frame of the window. This balances against the moving sash and ensures that the open panel doesn’t crash back down again. It maintains the sash panel in place without requiring weights and pulleys.

The sash weight is concealed within the lining of the box frame, and it’s usually connected to a cord or rope. This is attached to a pulley along the top rail of the sash window frame. The design should allow for a seamless and smooth movement when the windows are being opened or closed.

Horizontal sash window designs are also available. These don’t require a counterweight system because the panels will not be subject to gravity when they are opened.

What Are The Benefits Of Timber Sash Windows?

Timber sash windows are increasingly being fitted in period and contemporary homes. They provide a range of benefits for homeowners and have a number of key advantages over some of the alternatives. These include:

Aesthetically Pleasing

Timber sash windows are unrivalled when it comes to their overall appearance. For that reason, properties with timber sash windows often have a premium value alongside comparable properties that don’t feature them.

They complement period properties, and often replacement timber sash windows will be installed as part of a renovation project. In the past, sash windows may have been removed for other designs which are less sympathetic to the property. Today, retaining the historic integrity of a building is paramount and this has led to a renaissance in sash window repair and refurbishment as well as installation.

There is a huge range of classic and contemporary sash window styles to choose from, meaning they look as good on a country cottage as they do a city apartment.

Reduced whole life costs

Although UPVC windows are often sold as a lifetime solution, they do in fact have a realistic lifespan of around 15-25 years. Over time, their energy efficiency performance will deteriorate. UPVC windows are difficult to repair and more often than not they will end up in landfill.

By contrast, properly maintained timber sash windows can last for decades. They can be repaired and repainted, lasting anything from 50 years to a century. When it’s finally time to replace your windows, they can be recycled or allowed to decompose over time.

Increase the value and appeal of your home

Timber sash windows are seen as highly desirable. This can increase the appeal of your home alongside comparable properties that do not feature timber sash windows. If someone is looking for a period property, then one featuring recently fitted or reconditioned timber sash windows may be more appealing.

While there is no guarantee that installing timber sash windows will increase the value of your property, it’s quite possible that it will not only add value but also make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Natural insulation

Because they are manufactured from wood, timber sash windows provide high levels of natural insulation. Timber helps to retain heat and because contemporary sash windows can be manufactured with single, double, or triple glazing, you can find the right levels of insulation for your home and location.


Timber is a natural product that, when properly maintained, can last for decades. Unlike UPVC which is resource hungry and doesn’t biodegrade, timber comes from natural sources. The timber used to create high quality timber sash windows will usually be sourced from sustainably managed sources. This means that any trees cut down to create windows and other products will be replaced with new trees. A single tree will absorb up to one tonne of carbon dioxide over the course of its life and will generate enough oxygen to support two people.

Structural Integrity

The strong fibres and natural cellulose within timber means that it can withstand all kinds of weather conditions over extended periods of time. In the South West of England, where changeable, wet, and stormy weather is common, these are all-important.

Timber sash windows, when constructed properly, will retain their structural integrity for longer than many of the alternatives.

Do Timber Sash Windows Require Maintenance?

Timber sash windows remain popular in the UK, particularly when installed in period and historic buildings. What prevents many people from installing timber sash windows is the belief that they require large amounts of maintenance.

Over recent years, many of the historical problems associated with timber windows including peeling and blistering have been eliminated. Timber sash windows have been developed to minimise water retention and damp penetration.

After thorough timber preservation and priming, timber sash windows can be sprayed to give beautiful, durable finishes. These finishes include oiling, staining, varnishing, and painting. When timber sash window frames are painted with microporous paints, they need less maintenance while allowing the timber to breathe.

As with any type of moving mechanism, a sash window will benefit from cleaning periodically in order to ensure that its parts are kept in good working order. Giving them a rub down with a cloth and warm water every few months will ensure that they are free of dirt and dust.

Bespoke Timber Sash Windows From Joinery Solutions SouthWest

At Joinery Solutions SouthWest, we are specialists in timber sash windows. Every window we make or repair in our Devon joinery workshop is bespoke.

Each carefully crafted piece is designed specifically for you, then lovingly handcrafted in our FENSA-approved workshop. The manufacturing process is completed in the dedicated joinery spray booth and drying room.

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