It’s for good reason that windows are often called the ‘eyes of the house’. They let in light, allow you to see and, maybe most importantly, define the character of a building in all its individuality. This means that knowing your windows is always helpful.

Sash windows tend to be made up of two movable panels, otherwise known as ‘sashes’. The most common type of sash window, the ‘sliding sash’, is made up of two sashes that slide up and down, one in front and one behind, counterbalanced by lead weights on cords. In more modern sash windows though this has changed, and many have springs instead of weights. Sliding sash windows can be opened at the top or bottom, or both. Traditionally, they have no outward swing but many modern designs tilt in and out.

The word sash originates from the French for frame. It makes sense then that the ‘sash’ in sash windows refers to a single frame for glazing. Conventional sash windows have of a number of small panes, held together by glazing bars to create a larger glazed area.

Sash windows are a must if you’re looking to inject a traditional feel into your home

This is because sash windows are an integral part of British architectural history. Sash windows were introduced in England in the late 17th century by the French and were considered incredibly fashionable for the following 2 centuries.

Because of this, they’re found in houses from different eras including the Victorian, Georgian and Regency periods. There are some subtle differences to be found between these eras. If your home is of a particular style this could be of some importance when trying to capture the historical feel of the property. If not, then the style of your window is really up to you.

Even if you’re not looking for a traditional feel, sash windows have some great practical benefits:

  • It’s a little known fact that sash windows, when maintained and sealed properly, are one of the best methods of controlling ventilation and air flow throughout buildings. Because of the way they work, even opening the window very slightly can produce a powerful ventilation system.
  • Sash windows are very secure too for the following reasons. Firstly, sash windows can be locked in a slightly open position. This means you can have your windows ajar without worrying about intruders. Another reason is to do with the glazing. Because sash windows are usually made up of multiple small glazing panels, it would be impossible for an intruder to climb through a broken window or smashed glass with the glazing bars still intact.

There are also some common problems associated with sash windows:

You’ll need to keep a vigilant eye kept on sash windows, to ensure that they are working properly. This is especially true of original and period sash windows. However, damage can often be rectified with a little restoration.

  • Timber sash windows often rot due to flaking paint. This can be prevented simply with regular upkeep and modern paint finishes.
  • Broken and frayed cords are a common problem in traditional sash windows and cause the sashes to stop moving. This is usually easily fixed and does not mean you have to replace your windows. It is important to fix them right away though as once one breaks, the other one will soon follow because of the consequent strain being unequal. Sashes are heavy so this is a potentially dangerous situation.
  • If your windows are sticking and not sliding properly this could be due to excess paint build- up. Before you put a new coat of paint on your windows, rub them down with sugar soap to remove any dirt and built-up or flaky paint.
  • In traditional sash windows cleaning is often a problem. However, more modern ones often have a tilting function as well to simplify the process.

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How do you fit a sash window? Nutshell knows

It’s important to fit your windows correctly if you want them to do their job properly. More often than not, you’ll be fitting windows into a brick wall, so it’s good to have a few tips under your belt before you start.

  • You can usually separate the sashes from the frame. Do this to make the window easier to carry and lift. This in turn will reduce the risk of you making a mistake.
  • Fix the frame in place by using air wedges. Place the wedges in the corners of the frame, between it and the wall. You can then adjust accordingly, making sure the window is at least 5cm into the brickwork to protect it from the weather.
  • Burglar proof your windows by making sure they are blocked up on either side.
  • Once you have blocked up the window, drill a hole on either side into a brick rather than a joint between 2 bricks. Take into account the fact that you’ll need to place screws in less visible positions. Make sure that the distance between screws doesn’t exceed 60cm; there is usually a label on the window pane detailing these measurements
  • When the frame is secure, plumb and level, add the sashes. With traditional, cord operated sash windows make sure the weight is at the top of the frame, pin there and then attach to the top sash. You can use carpet tacks or a knot for this. Remove the initial pins and allow the top sash to sit in its normal position. Then repeat for the bottom sash.

Nutshell are experts in traditional and modern construction and enjoy sharing our expertise with customers. To find out more about sash windows, or to see if we can help you, please call us on 01903 217900 or [email protected].