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14th Jul 2015

Sash Windows - The Love Affair

Can’t live with them, can’t live without them… owners of period properties often have a complex and emotional relationship with their sash windows! If not properly maintained they can rattle and be drafty or painted shut with layers of paint applied over many years. However, properly maintained and perfectly weighted, a sash window is not only a very beautiful piece of architectural joinery but also a practical solution to ventilating a space. The double hung casement enables you to open them from the bottom as well as the top, drawing cool air in from below, and pushing warm air out at the top.

A sash window is made of one or more movable panels or "sash" that form a frame to hold panes of glass, which are often separated from other panes (or "lights") by narrow glazing bars. Although any window with this style of glazing is technically "a sash", the term is used almost exclusively to refer to windows where the glazed panels are opened by sliding vertically. The sash window is often found in Georgian and Victorian houses, and the classic arrangement has three panes across by two up on each of two sash, giving a six over six panel window, although this is by no is a fixed rule. Innumerable late Victorian and Edwardian suburban houses were built in England using standard sash window units approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) in width but handmade units can be of any size.

To facilitate operation, the weight of the glazed sash is usually balanced by a heavy steel, lead, or cast iron sash weight or counter-weight concealed within the window frame. The sash weight is connected to the window by a sash cord or chain that runs over a pulley at the top of the frame, although spring balances are sometimes used.

Traditionally styled double-glazed replacement sash windows will often attempt to mimic the original appearance through the use of faux sash bars, which are applied to the surface of the glazing, and give the appearance that the sash is made up of several smaller panes, whereas in reality, each sash consists of only one large double glazed unit.

Replacing sash windows can be a significant cost and therefore an emotive decision. There are so many options and some more cost effective than others, but for many people sash window replacements are not something they are prepared to compromise on. An original Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian sash window is more than just a functional necessity it is an integral part of the character of the building, each with its own individual style.

The staff bead, bars, horns, sill, moulding, nosing and architraves all have their own details, which come together to give the window its particular look. Whether beautiful in their simplicity or complex and intricate, like for like replacement is the only way for a sash window purist!

Whole house sash window replacement is one of BarrJoinery’s specialist areas. The beautiful Georgian South Buckinghamshire property pictured above is a great example. BarrJoinery were privileged to take on this commission, based on quality of product, a competitive quote, a personal recommendation and a client visit to our workshop to see our joiners in action. Our client shared … “Replacing our sash windows was a costly and emotional decision.  We felt in safe hands with Josh, Manager of BarrJoinery, a local company with a strong reputation”. Our clients often visit the Field Farm Workshop to see the manufacturing process in action, either before commissioning or to see their very own windows in manufacture. 

Click here to see more of this project.



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