A ‘sash’ window is a traditional style of sliding window in the format of a single frame for glazing and two sashes that slide up and down using a counterweight balancing mechanism. Each sash is made up of a number of small ‘lights’ or panes which are fixed together by astragal or glazing bars to contribute to the larger area of glazing. At the time at which sash windows rose in popularity, techniques in glass manufacturing were not yet advanced enough to allow for larger sections of clear glazing to be made at one time, so windows had to consist of multiple smaller sections of glass. These windows are often found in regency era homes being renovated.
Variations in the style
One common variation in this traditional style is a ‘slider’ window, which features a horizontally sliding sash window, also known as a Yorkshire sash. This style uses the same sliding mechanism as the standard style of sash windows, with the distinct difference that one of the sashes is usually fixed in place. Interestingly enough, this design style actually pre-dates the more popular vertical sash window.
Most commonly found in Georgian and Victorian-era houses, variations in the original sash window style can also be found in both late Victorian and Edwardian properties. They were an important part of British architectural history throughout the 17th – 19th century.
Knowing the design
The specific design of your sash window will differ depending on the exact time period it was initially from. Over the years, the most common styles have evolved as public opinion on what was considered to be ‘in style’ fluctuated. Whether you are replacing the existing sash windows in an older home or styling a new property to match the design of a period-home, it is important to identify the correct time period and select the right design in accordance with this. The primary difference in styles over the decades is in the number of panes of glazing in each sash:
- Georgian period homes: either six over six, or eight over eight style windows
- Victorian period homes: mainly two over two windows, but also a range of other variations including single-pane styles and sidelights
- Edwardian period homes: again, there were various common choices but the most common was the six over two windows
Authentic Sash Window Replacements
Far too often, people renovating period homes make the mistake of removing timber sashes when they could have been restored and updated, or at least removed safely and saved.
If the windows are beyond saving, however, there are plenty of companies who specialise in the manufacturing of authentic, period-style replacements. This is a fantastic option for those wanting to retain the original character of the house and charm that comes with this timeless style – without compromising the comfort and practicality of living in your home. The same can often be achieved with professional repairs – original timber is usually of a much higher quality than the newer products you would be able to purchase today. This timber is highly durable, while new wood will be less resilient and more prone to decay. This is also a practical long-term investment since well-repaired timber window frames can last an entire lifetime with the proper maintenance and care.
You might also want to check out: Repair or replace: how to deal with old sash windows
Getting repairs from professionals
In addition to this, properly restoring period features like sash windows could greatly increase the value of your home.
Whether your windows are suffering from rotting wood in the frames, sticking sashes, foggy windows, excessive condensation, or damaged counterweight balancing mechanisms, getting a professional to come in and assess the damage will be the best choice. They will be able to help you decide if your sash windows are in need of replacement or can simply be restored. Of course, you will still have the final say in this matter, but the person assessing your windows will be able to identify all possible issues with and fixes for the material, the mechanism, or whatever else may be causing problems. It is often a fairly simple and quick job to repair most damaged sash windows, regardless of the level of decay or loss sustained. The professional should be able to give you a quote on price, but don’t expect this job to be particularly cheap. Between repairing or replacing your sash windows, you are likely to be paying anywhere from around £1000-£2000.
Improvements on period sash windows
As far as improvements go, it may also be prudent to look into getting your period sash windows retrofitted with up-to-date features for improved daily life in your home. This may include improving the thermal performance of your windows replacing the old panes with double glazing while keeping the authentic traditional frames. It would also be worth it to draughtproof the box frame if this can be saved, though it is important with any updates and repairs to remain as true to the original period style as is possible with modern materials. Insulation can easily be retrofitted into these styles of windows and you may also want to consider getting them waterproofed.
Architectural history in Brighton
Considering the history of the development of Brighton as the vibrant, popular city we know it as today, you may be surprised to learn that it was not always this way – during the late 1700s and early 1800s, tourism soared as sea-side towns became increasingly desirable as holiday destinations. As a result of this, the landscape of the city began to develop and expand, most notably with the addition of now-famous buildings like the Royal Pavilion and countless hotels erected to capitalise on the rising popularity of the town.
The Royal Albion Hotel, built in 1826 in the regency style, is just one of many examples of buildings in Brighton constructed in this era with specific design features that were popular at the time, including iconic sash windows. This creates a particularly high demand for sash window repair and installation services available in the area. For this reason, if you are in need of repairs or replacements for your sash windows, Brighton has no shortage of companies who specialise in exactly that.
This article was written on behalf of Fix a Sash by Pieter Boyce. Pieter has an intense passion for English Architectural history and has been specialising in the conservation of original wooden windows and doors for decades. His exceptional knowledge of timber windows and doors, both listed or non-listed, is attributed to his hands-on approach to learning all aspects of the complete restoration of original features as well as having personally surveyed thousands of items throughout his long tenure as a head surveyor for one of the largest window and door restoration companies in the UK. He now runs a boutique wooden window and door consultancy and fervently champions the retention of original windows and doors. To learn more of Pieter’s services, visit his website at www.boultonboyce.co.uk.