Sash Windows

Should I repair my sash windows or replace them?

Share The Love

A decision that could – at least initially – seem hard to make

Sash windows have many benefits: they look good, can require little maintenance and, as only one of their panels can be opened at a time, can be tricky for budding burglars to clamour through. Understandably, then, you could quickly feel distraught if your home’s sash windows pick up damage. How can you tell whether you need a repair service or a set of new windows?

How might sash windows pick up damage over time?

As most of the UK’s sash windows are wooden-framed, they can be prone to swelling, distorting and rotting – and start rattling and become noticeably draughtier if the wood shrinks. Meanwhile, the glass panes and sash cords of both timber and uPVC sash windows can break.

Could I replace sash windows on a listed property?

Yes, but you would need planning permission to do so. However, even if your London home’s sash windows are damaged, we can likely repair them. If we find that these windows are beyond repair, we could create and fit new sash windows that accurately copy the old ones.

Sash windows: key character features worth preserving

In the UK, sash windows – known by this term due to their sliding panels, or “sashes” – have long been the traditional choice of window type for residential properties. Today, sash windows are often seen on period homes; however, from the early twentieth century onwards, casement windows – which open and close via a hinge – were increasingly chosen for under-construction homes instead.

As a result, if your home has sash windows, you are probably eager to keep them in good condition – especially as this would catch the eye of homebuyers should your property ever be put up for sale. Still, if you see any of the telltale signs of damage to your sash windows, you will be left with a crucial decision to make…

Why you might need to do something about your sash windows?

Quite simply, should your problematic sash windows be replaced or simply repaired? The answer will very much depend on what the problem actually is. Fortunately, sash window repair is often the only service needed for rectifying a wide range of faults in such windows. Here are some examples of issues that commonly befall sash windows but our repair technicians regularly tackle:

  • Swollen and distorted woodwork
  • Rotting wooden frames
  • Shrinking wood that leads the window to rattle
  • Draughtiness due to gaps forming in the window
  • Single-glazed panes that provide insufficient insulation

If your sash windows are limited to single-paned glass ineffective in helping to keep sufficient heat inside the property, it might be possible for you to have double glazing fitted in the window without any need to replace the whole window unit. Double glazing consists of two strong panes that, in trapping a gas between them, prevent thermal bridging.

A sash window can inadvertently leave a thermal bridge when part of the window is higher in thermal conductivity than the surrounding materials – providing heat transfer with a “path of least resistance”. This is why, while double glazing once just created a vacuum between the panes, modern double glazing instead traps a gas to help keep a home warm and prevent condensation.

Do uPVC windows last longer than timber sash windows?

Alas, the perception that uPVC windows do last longer is evidently an enduring myth. While these windows can still last a good few decades, timber sash windows – provided they are carefully maintained, such as by being periodically repainted – can potentially last over a century.

When replacing sash windows starts to look like a good idea

Of course, “could” and “should” are words with subtle but crucial differences in meaning. This bears emphasis while we are on the subject of sash window repair– as, while you could go down this route, there might also be good reasons why you should seriously consider having your damaged sash windows – or even fully-functioning sash windows, if you have those – outright replaced.

If your windows are particularly old, then upgrading their materials could give them a new lease of life. These days, glass installed afresh in windows is specially engineered for enhanced durability, while treatments exist to reduce the susceptibility of newer frames to such issues as water damage and rot. New sash windows can also essentially pay for themselves due to their energy efficiency.

Let’s assume your current sash windows are single-paned glass panes in old wooden frames. If local planning regulations would allow it, you could replace those windows with newer, double-glazed models framed in timber – or even uPVC sash windows made to resemble wood. You could be rewarded with a warmer home and, thus, less need for you to regularly turn up your thermostat.

Could I replace sash windows on a listed property?

Yes, but you would need planning permission to do so. However, even if your London home’s sash windows are damaged, we can likely repair them. If we find that these windows are beyond repair, we could create and fit new sash windows that accurately copy the old ones.

Could I replace my casement windows with timber sash windows?

You could understandably be wondering this if your home has casement windows that clash with the overall aesthetic. Casement windows suit modern properties much more easily than period ones – and we can provide timber sash windows that would faithfully echo a heritage home’s style.

When replacing sash windows might be your only option

If we have undertaken a free site survey at your home and reported back that your sash windows can only be replaced rather than repaired, you shouldn’t neglect to replace them – even if the damage is minor. Even “small” damage can worsen over time – and, if you wish to sell your home, the sight of windows in a state of disrepair could deter prospective buyers.

If you want to add double glazing to your existing windows but their sashes would be incapable of accommodating the double glazed units’ additional weight and thickness, the only way to get double glazing could be to have the current windows renewed. Here are a few examples of other occasions where you may need to replace your sash windows:

  • Your home has been damaged by a severe storm
  • The furniture in your home keeps fading
  • Noise pollution is a constant problem in your home
  • You keep seeing condensation on your existing windows

As a general rule, if you want to keep your sash windows’ original features, you should opt for repair rather than replacement. However, replacing your sash windows might make more sense if you strongly prioritise thermal comfort and energy efficiency and the existing windows aren’t, in appearance, so distinctive that you could struggle to find like-for-like replacements for them.

The happy medium is, of course, sash windows that look great on the outside – whether in a historical or contemporary way – but remained packed with useful functionality on the inside. If you want a window that is as secure, resilient and thermally efficient as possible without compromising on aesthetic appeal, we can install that window at your home in Greater London.