Where is a Window’s Sash?

Britain is packed full of stunning properties, from the new skyscrapers to the old, vintage period homes. One thing that a lot of these older homes have in common is their heritage sash windows. Some of which have lasted hundreds of years. Pretty impressive, right?

But not everyone is so familiar with the old-fashioned sash window. Read on as we discuss the make up of sash windows including the all-important sash.

Where do sash windows come from?

Like a lot of our popular property features, sash windows were actually invented right here in Britain. British architect Robert Hooke designed them more than four centuries ago – around the time of the English civil war. Originally, they were propped open by wooden blocks, pegs, or whatever property owners saw fit.

That said, they didn’t really take off until after the Great Fire of London. To stop fires spreading like they did in the Great Fire, windows needed to be set further back from the walls of a house. Sash windows were the most suitable option. Over time, the makeshift pegs and blocks were replaced with a rope system, similar to what he have now.

Back in those days, glass was also a lot harder to come by than it is now. Or at least it was if you wanted a large sheet of it. Leaded lights were a lot more common, using quite a few smaller panes of glass to make up one window.

As glass-making advanced, Britain slowly began to see larger panes of glass. Windows with a single pane eventually became the norm, like we see today. Although there are still plenty of examples of leaded light sash windows, which look great!

Because of the cost of glass, sash windows soon became a sign of how well you were doing. People with the biggest panes became the envy of the town, compared to those with leaded lights. Funnily enough, when Victorians started using sheet glass, they found that the windows became too heavy for the rope they were using. Instead, they had to use chains to hold the weight of the sash windows.

So what’s a sash?

The glass might have changed over time. But one thing that stayed the same on sash windows was the classic, strong sash. In short, that means the part of the window that moves when it’s opened and closed. It’s a wooden frame holding a pane of glass – or several leaded lights held together. That said, some cheap-looking PVC alternatives have inevitably become available over the last few years.

The sash is the most obvious feature of the sash window. But there’s plenty more involved to keep it working well. Top rails, bottom rails, windowsill, sash weights and cords are all important parts of any sash window. If they’re all kept in good nick, you’ll have a window that’s great and works perfectly.

Different types of sash windows

Not all sash windows are the same. As well as having different types of glass, they can come in different forms altogether. In most cases, this depends on when they were made. Here are three of the most common styles:

Single-hung sash windows

Single-hung is probably the most common type of sash window. It’s also the oldest, first used by the Georgians. In short, it means one of the window’s sashes can be moved. The other, usually the top sash, is fixed in place.

Double-hung sash windows

Alternatively, sash windows can be double hung. That means they have two moveable sashes – usually top and bottom. Introduced by the Victorians, this kind of sash window is known to be pretty good for air conditioning. If you open the bottom sash and top sash by equal amounts, you can let warm air out of the top while cold air drifts in through the bottom.

Horizontal sliding sash windows

Not all sash windows slide up and down. Some homes also have sash windows that slide horizontally. These windows are sometimes called “Yorkshire light”. Because they don’t slide up and down, you might find that horizontal sashes aren’t weighted to assist movement.

Are sash windows a good option?

Sash windows have been around for some time now. They’ve got all kinds of benefits, on top of their longevity:

They look great

Above all else, wooden sash windows look brilliant. They’re a classic British feature that adds character and class to your home or building. That’s especially important when you look at the alternative – modern PVC windows.

Put a PVC window on a period property and it sticks out like a sore thumb. It will hit the value of your property. On the flipside, wooden sash windows make sure your property stays the best it can be.

They work well

Think old windows are naturally bad at keeping heat in? Think again. If your sash windows are draught-sealed and properly glazed, there’s no reason they can’t offer the same thermal qualities of modern windows. That means less money spent on heating your home, and more savings over time.

They can be repaired

If you have a problem with your PVC windows, they’ll usually need to be thrown out and replaced. Not the best option for your pocket. Wooden sash windows can usually be repaired rather than replaced. Whether it’s a specific wooden panel that needs replacing or just a strip and repaint to protect the timber, sash windows can be given a completely new lease of life. For you, that means less money down the drain replacing windows time and again.

They reduce waste

Because you can repair rather than replacing, wooden sash windows are a lot better for the environment. PVC replacements use a lot of energy in manufacture alone. They’re also damaging when disposed of, because they’re made from non-biodegradable materials.

Keep your sash windows at their best

One of the biggest benefits of sash windows is the ability to repair and renovate them. It’s always best to stay on top of things, rather than letting water ingress or decay get out of hand. Whether it’s flaky paint or dodgy weighting, Fix a Sash can offer a quick and easy repair for your sash windows.

We’ll assess the damage, give you a quote and fix your sash windows so they’re looking great and working perfectly. Want to find out more? Give us a call today on

This article was written on behalf of Fix a Sash by Pieter Boyce, founding partner of Boulton & Boyce Surveyors. Find out more about their services at Listed Property Specialists.