Sash Windows

Should I install uPVC sash windows or timber sash windows?

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Choosing between two very viable materials

If you have decided to invest in new sash windows for your home, it probably wasn’t a difficult decision to make. The benefits of sash windows are numerous, and include pleasingly traditional styling as well as high levels of safety and security. You could, however, remain uncertain what material to choose for those windows. Would uPVC or timber be the better option?

What are sash windows?

Sash windows are so-called as they each consist of two window units – the “sashes” – that sit inside a frame, where they can easily be slid along their own vertical grooves. As a result, you can open or close a sash window by moving one unit smoothly past the other.

How do uPVC and timber sash windows differ?

Of course, “uPVC” and “timber” here refer to the materials used for the sash window frames – and simply swapping out one material for the other can make a surprisingly big difference to the window itself, including in its appearance, cost and projected lifespan.

How uPVC and timber sash windows compare in cost?

Picture the scene: your home’s existing sash windows have deteriorated to the point where the only realistic step forward is to replace them. Even if those windows were originally made of timber, as could be very possible if the home itself was built decades or even centuries ago, your first thought might be to replace these windows with uPVC units – for one simple reason above all…

Yes, it’s true that uPVC sash windows tend to be cheaper than timber alternatives. While a uPVC window can often be priced under a thousand pounds, the cost of a similar timber window can be several hundred pounds more. However, another factor complicates the question of how uPVC and timber windows really compare in expense – and that factor is how long each of these materials last.

How to play the long game with your choice of sash windows?

The fact that some people even today can find themselves seeking replacements for timber windows built a century or more ago is testament to timber’s staggering longevity. Nonetheless, to last as long as this, wooden sash windows must be carefully and regularly maintained. For example, paint that has started peeling must be quickly restored to help prevent the wood from rotting.

Here at Vintage Sash, we provide 10-year guarantees on both timber and uPVC. However, you should still anticipate timber staying intact for a lot longer. Realistically, you can expect uPVC sash windows, once affixed to your home, to last for about 35 years. Nonetheless, they will necessitate very little upkeep over that period – with even discolouration rarely an issue in today’s uPVC windows.

Why you shouldn’t be quick to brand timber an “outdated” option?

While uPVC might be considered a more “modern” choice of material than timber for sash windows, it doesn’t necessarily follow that uPVC always makes the most sense for such windows built today. Here are just a few reasons why, even now, timber sash windows remain very relevant:

  • With timber, it’s often easier to replicate especially elaborate designs of heritage windows
  • Timber sash windows can increase the value of a home, especially a period one
  • These windows can still include modern features, such as double glazing
  • Timber windows have a much lower carbon footprint than uPVC windows

Key to the appeal of timber here is its versatility. Timber sash windows can portray a classic, “historical” look while still adhering to modern standards, such as today’s building regulations. Meanwhile, in certain instances, uPVC may struggle to convincingly emulate timber in appearance.

This doesn’t strictly mean that, if you are seeking new sash windows for a heritage property, you should just forget about sourcing those windows in uPVC. It does, however, mean that you should think very carefully before you choose uPVC for your older home’s new sash windows – and, of course, you are likely to have fewer concerns about the look of uPVC if your home is a recent build.

Our experienced team of window manufacturers can create sash windows from coloured or painted plastic, enabling us to effectively capture the look of various types of wood, including pine and oak. However, if the new sash window will be replacing an old timber one rich in intricate detail, that’s when timber would come to the fore as a worthwhile material for your new sash window, too.

uPVC sash vs timber sash windows: which is the best option for your home?

It would be difficult for us to say without first visiting your property and gaining all of the information we need to recommend a particular type of window. Generally, however, timber sash windows tend to suit period homes, while uPVC sash windows often lend themselves well to new builds.

What is a FENSA certificate?

FENSA (the Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme) was set up to help enforce building regulations for double glazing companies. After fitting new windows at a London home, we will give the client a FENSA certificate to show that the installation was completed with these regulations in mind.

Where timber and uPVC sash windows can be interchangeable

If your home had uPVC sash windows when you moved in, but you would like to replace them with timber sash windows, there probably won’t be any big stumbling blocks in practice. That’s because the property probably won’t be subject to various planning regulations aimed at protecting its historic character and therefore practically barring changes of material for the property’s windows.

However, if your home is a listed building or in a conservation area, then replacing the property’s old timber sash windows with uPVC alternatives could be out of the question. As a window material, timber does come with a long list of advantages:

  • Impressive durability
  • Excellent insulation
  • A broad choice of finishes, including most paint colours and stains
  • Relatively low-maintenance as a result of modern developments

None of this is to say that uPVC sash windows are without their own merits. These include:

  • High energy efficiency
  • Modest expense – at least in the short term
  • A range of attractive but hardwearing designs
  • A lack of fuss on the maintenance front

As you can see, then, timber and uPVC sash windows actually have a fair few advantages in common – including high efficiency, ease of maintenance and aesthetic versatility. So, your decision might ultimately come down to whether you strive for a traditional or contemporary look in your windows.

If you still can’t decide between uPVC and timber for your London home’s next sash windows, please don’t be afraid to get in touch with our window experts and discuss the matter in detail with us. We can consider your particular situation and suggest – and install – a specific window solution for it.