As specialist custom-made joinery manufacturers and installers, this is a question that we are often asked when we visit potential customers in their homes. The question is often associated with windows that are showing signs of rot which has become evident in the spring when the householder has decided that they require painting.
Our first, and probably most important piece of advice, would precede this situation as we would always recommend that all windows, like any other high performance, engineered product, require a regular maintenance programme to be undertaken to ensure a long life, efficient performance and visual appeal. There are many excellent examples of wooden windows which are over 100 years old and still perfectly serviceable today. Many of the common problems we encounter can be attributed to poor maintenance including sashes that will not open, failure of joints and putty and timber rot. With timber windows, special care should be taken with the coating surface including the initial choice of product and later that moisture is not allowed to penetrate the timber through breaks in the paint or stain. When developing the maintenance programme, you should consider the aspect of the building as windows in a south facing aspect in a coastal area will deteriorate far quicker than those in a north facing position, sheltered from the wind and rain.
Unfortunately, many of our customers inherit problems when they purchase a new property and this means that they are faced with the dilemma of whether to replace their windows or undertake repairs.
One of the many benefits of timber windows is that they can be sympathetically renovated and repaired to extend their life. One of the window components that suffers most from rot is generally the cill and the jambs which start to soak up the moisture from the cill. These elements can be replaced or repaired by an experienced carpenter who can piece in new timber to replace the rotten timber. If the windows have glazing bars, these can suffer damage through bad maintenance. With care and attention, these can be repaired and the original glass can be reinstated. If the frame itself is sound but the sashes have disintegrated, it may be possible to replace the sashes only, leaving the frame intact. Traditional vertical sliding windows can be renovated by specialist companies who can restore the sashes by replacing broken or missing sash cord and weights, freeing up the sashes by removing the build up of paint and introducing draught strip to cut down on draughts and movement.
Inevitably, windows will reach the point where they are beyond repair and require replacement and this may present the opportunity to upgrade their thermal performance and security.
Both timber casement and traditional sliding sash style windows can be fitted with double glazing. If there are no fine glazing bars in the original design, 24mm units can be incorporated within replacements which replicate the original features and, in sliding sash windows, can be combined with traditional sash weights and cord or spiral balances. If the window requires fine glazing bars, 24mm double glazed units can have inset spacer bar and applied glazing bars to the exterior of the unit to give the appearance of individual panes of glass. Alternatively, slimmer double glazed units can be used in traditional style Georgian and Victorian type designs enabling the glazing bars and section sizes to replicate the slimmer appearance of the original windows.
Square bay window in a listed property in Lindfield with slim 14mm krypton gas filled double glazed units.
Replacing windows in conservation areas.
If your property is located within a Conservation area it is wise to seek advice from your local Conservation or Planning Officer before obtaining a quotation to replace your windows. They will be able to tell you whether double glazed replacements are likely to gain their approval for the type of property in its particular location. Replacement windows in Listed Properties will always require Listed Building Consent unless the replacements are like-for-like and single glazed. If single glazing is stipulated, a specialist joinery manufacturer and installer can replicate the design of the original windows to incorporate draught strip for added insulation which can be combined with additional methods of thermal insulation including secondary glazing, shutters and the use of curtains with thermal lining.
Increasingly, we are requested to replace uPVC or aluminium windows with timber replacements to improve the appearance of a property which may have been unsympathetically renovated with windows that do not match the age of the property or with the original design. The existing replacements may have been chosen for their functionality rather than their aesthetic appearance or, through several renovations under different ownership, can have mismatched windows that are not in keeping with each other or with the property itself. Custom-made timber replacements can transform the appearance of the property and might actually increase its value.
There There can be tax benefits in replacing uPVC windows in Listed Properties as HM Customs and Revenue considers this to be an ‘alteration’ and, as such, this work can be zero rated for VAT purposes. If you require any further help, advice or information please call us or take a look at our timber replacement windows page.