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Sash windows … a little bit of history

Sash windows have been around for a while – since the late 1600s in fact. Initially, sash windows were extremely expensive, and could only be afforded by the very well off, such as the royal family. Sash windows were used in many royal palaces, including Kensington Palace and Hampton Court.

By Victorian times the price of the materials and the manufacture of sash windows had decreased so much that the installation of sash windows in decent sized dwellings became commonplace. Any buildings that have survived from Victorian times right into the 2010s with their original fittings will almost uniformly have sash windows installed.

Solving the heating issue with sash windows

Sash windows were used for their looks more than their practical nature. Victorian homes did not have double glazing – just single panes of glass held by putty in a metallic or hardwood framework. As a result, Victorian homes were very hard to heat and keep warm. The most common solution to this issue was to install shutters – both internally and externally. When the weather turned chilly either or both sets of shutters could be closed, preserving the internal heat. This method of heat installation is actually a better solution than modern day curtain or blinds.

Unfortunately, since such shutters were commonly made of wood, they have long since decayed or been broken, and many have been painted shut. There are not a great number of Victorian homes that still have their original shutters intact.

How to care for historic sash windows

There can simply be no question – a property today that has endured since Victorian times is at its best when all original fittings and fixtures are available, and that includes the original sash windows. Unfortunately, given the age of such windows, it’s unlikely that they remain fit-for-purpose. The construction techniques used ‘back in the day’ cannot be compared to the way windows are constructed and installed now. People who live in Victorian properties that have their original sash windows in place usually face hefty energy bills, and such windows can hardly be described as secure.

Modern restoration methods – such as those used by companies like Wandsworth Sash Windows – attempt to restore period charm to a Victorian properties’ sash windows by re-using as much of the original materials as possible. Both the original metal and hardwood that were used during the construction were chosen because of their durability, which means they are suitable for re-use. Much of the original glass can be recycled for a restoration project as well.

If you have a Victorian property still with its original sash windows intact, but they are in need of a little restoration in order to get them up to modern standards, then you need to make sure you hire the services of a sash windows restoration company with a proven track record of respectful restoration. Your sash windows are an important part of your property’s character, after all.

Modern restoration techniques also means that frameworks can be restored, and other factors such as draught-proofing and sound-proofing added.


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