Timber is a hugely versatile material and is increasingly used inside and outside homes. In fact, timber-framed buildings are increasingly popular around the country. For the purposes of this article, though, we are assuming that you are not building a new house from scratch but, rather, that you are looking to include timber in your home in some other way. We look at the ways in which you can do that on the outside of your home this month.
Last month we talked about the various types of wood that are available to help you better understand the choices you have and how the different options apply to different uses – from window and door joinery to large and small pieces of furniture. This month we want to tell you more about the sources of wood – in particular, the ones that are more sustainable allowing you to make an informed choice of material for your home with a much lower impact on the environment.
It’s been pretty hot lately and we have all been feeling it! What’s more, it is still only July, so if this record summer heat is to continue we could have more hot spells over the next couple of months. Our homes are feeling it too, particularly those areas that have natural materials such as timber which will react to changes in temperature and humidity. How can we look after them so that they are not stressed with the large change between our very cold winter and our super-hot summer? Let’s take a look at the properties of timber, how it is used in our homes, and what we can do to look after it well.
SPAB’s National Maintenance Week starts on 18th November for one week. Founded by William Morris in 1877, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), aims to highlight the need for a regular maintenance programme whatever the age of your property. Their website at www.maintainyourbuilding.org.uk provides property owners with straightforward, practical and safe advice giving them the confidence and knowledge to undertake simple DIY repairs or to instruct an expert. It is perfect timing, before the onset of winter, to undertake a simple ‘MOT’ on your property including roof coverings, gutters and rainwater pipes, wall coverings and timber joinery.
Timber Joinery MOT
Inspect window and door surface coatings at least annually. Whether the decorative finish is paint, stain or oil, it must be maintained and moisture should not be allowed to penetrate into the timber throughout its life. Any exposed timber should be sanded and recoated immediately, especially prior to the onset of winter.
General cleaning should be carried out regularly (minimum twice a year) using a non-abrasive cloth with mild detergent and warm water ro remove any contaminates, whilst frequently changing the water. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all residues but do not use hosepipes or pressure cleaning equipment. During cleaning, if any damage is noticed, then this must be repaired immediately. Areas of general wear and tear such as window and door cills and door edges, should be made good and touched up as necessary.
Timber joinery requires re-painting approximately every 2-5 years depending on the aspect of the property and the recommendation of the paint finish manufacturer. Employing the services of a professional painter and decorator is recommended but there is plenty of advice and guidance on the internet for the enthusiastic amateur.
Inspect window and door furniture, wiping away all dirt and debris, especially on moving parts. Check all screws are tight and clean the handles with a damp cloth. On the hinges, you can apply a light machine oil to all pivots ad wipe away any excess. Apply petroleum jelly to all the locking bolts, guide slots and striker plates. Where there are trickle ventilators, wipe clean with a damp cloth and clean away any blockages.
Whilst the most important elements to maintain are the coating systems and hardware, it is advisable to check the entire unit (interior and exterior) including the glazing unit and weatherseals for any signs of deterioration.
One of the distinct benefits of choosing timber joinery over upvc or aluminium is that, when damage is identified during the MOT inspection, it can be repaired by a qualified joiner. Much of the damage will be sustained to the cills and areas where water may accumulate. Rotten timber can be removed and new timber pieced in. Once the repair has been undertaken and primer, undercoat and final finish has been applied, the join should no longer be visible. Inevitably timber windows and doors may reach a point where they are beyond repair and will require replacement. Please refer to our useful guide Replacement Windows for further advice or call to make an appointment.
Dating back to the late seventeenth century, the sliding box sash window operated by weights, sash cord and pulleys was widely used in building design up until the late 20th century. When maintained and painted regularly and used frequently, traditional timber sash windows can give decades of useful service.
Like Like any other high performance, engineered product, custom-made sliding sash windows will require some form of maintenance during their lifetime in order to ensure a long life, efficient performance and visual appeal. Failure to keep to a planned maintenance schedule may, at best, ruin their appearance and, at worst, could lead to the early deterioration of the components.
Many of the common problems encountered with box sash windows can be attributed to poor maintenance including sticking sashes, failure of the joints, failure of the putty and timber rot. Whilst many period properties still maintain their original sliding box sash windows which will have been regularly painted and may have been repaired over the years, we encounter many that are beyond repair and require timber replacements that replicate the originals whilst upgrading their thermal performance, security and functionality.
A regular maintenance schedule for timber replacement or original traditional sliding box sash windows should incorporate the following:
Regular cleaning of the glass and timber surfaces will improve the appearance and functionality of the windows whilst offering the opportunity to inspect for any developing defects. The most important elements to maintain are the coating system and the sash cord and pulley wheels. It is also advisable to check the entire unit (interior and exterior) including the glazing unit and weatherseals for any signs of deterioration. The type and level of maintenance required will depend on the location of your property and exposure to weather. Joinery in a south facing position in a coastal area will deteriorate far quicker than one that is north facing and sheltered from the wind and rain.
Please be aware of your own safety when cleaning windows. Avoid standing on chairs or over reaching.
In order to protect the joinery and putty from weathering, windows will generally require repainting after five years depending on the coating system that you have chosen to use, the location of your property and exposure to weather. Redecorating in good time will reduce the amount of preparation that will be required.