Timber Windows

Peter Napier FRICS


This old sash window has been neglected in a derelict building for years. Outwardly it looks in very poor condition. In fact it has not suffered that much. The sash still slides even though the sash cords have rotted away and the timber is still sound. Such is the quality of old timber and joinery. Frequently windows such as this would be put in a skip in favour of replacement uPVC windows.

The proliferation of plastic windows is changing the appearance of our built environment. When used as replacement windows in old and historic buildings they can be, and usually are, disfiguring to the buildings’ appearance. If the FACTS about PVC windows were more widely known perhaps their use would not be so widespread.

This image shows two bay windows in a Cardiff street. One has original Victorian sash windows the other replacement uPVC windows. Which has the most pleasing appearance? NOTE: The replacement windows are incapable of allowing escape in the event of a fire. Given that most of these houses are used for student accommodation parents beware!!!!!!

Ask anyone why they have used uPVC as a material for replacement windows and they will tell you that it is cheap and it doesn’t need painting. Cheap it may be at source but in terms of the life of the window it isn’t. Wood will last longer and replacement costs for the uPVC window are not usually taken into account. As for painting, there are materials around now such as linseed oil paint which do not require remedial decorating for many years longer than conventional paints and they do not peel and flake which modern chemical paints tend to do and this can result in decay not to mention more work in preparation prior to painting.