11 Jul 2019

A guide to windows in period properties

Period properties are hugely popular for their historic charm and character. While owning a period property can be incredibly rewarding, it does also require a lot of TLC and therefore often presents the homeowner with various challenges.

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Sometimes referred to as the ‘eyes of a house’, authentic windows contribute to the overall character of a period property, along with other original features such as fireplaces, brickwork and flooring. Often, these components reflect the architectural style of their time, and therefore, by examining these features it is possible to determine the era a property was built.

Sash windows, consisting of two vertically sliding frames, are commonplace in period properties and are typical of the Georgian and Victorian eras. Although sash windows are now widely available in wood, metal or PVC, timber was used for window frames before the 20th century. While the timber used was of a higher quality than what is sometimes used in modern homes, it is still vulnerable to decay if not properly maintained.

If you’re looking to invest in a period property but the windows are in decay, or perhaps you own a heritage filled home with tiring windows, as with any other significant alteration to your home, it’s vital to carefully reflect on the reasons for change and desired results, before mapping out your options.

This guide weighs up the options to reviving windows in period properties.

To replace or restore?

First things first, in the case of listed buildings or homes with an article 4 direction (removing the right of development), the only option may well be restoration. However, if you ideally want to go down the route of replacements, as the windows are beyond repair, it is important to consider the quality and the similarity of the replacements to the original designs. In both instances, consent will be required.

If a period property is not listed, then the choice will likely come down to personal preference and the condition of the existing windows. Although, there are benefits to both the replacement and restoration of sash windows.

Original wooden-framed windows can be hard to replicate due to modern regulations but repairs and draughtproofing are possible if they are in a reasonable condition; this will cost a fraction of the price of a replacement window. Restoration can often be done using most of the original material and can outlast new windows.

A lot of the character of period homes comes from the detail and original fixtures are often desired. By restoring original windows, you are ensuring the character of the home remains.

Replacing original windows can have vast benefits from increased value and security to improved aesthetics. Modern windows are typically more energy efficient and the material, colour and finish can be tailored to perfectly fit the style of the property. Thus, the replacement of original windows can improve the value of the home if done with sensitivity. Double glazing and modern replacements also usually offer increased security as well as boosting appearance, especially where windows were damaged and/or mismatched previously.

To replace

Sash windows

If you’re looking to emulate original sash windows as closely as possible, it’s important to consider any period detailing, the colour and finish, proportions, glazing and, the windows opening method.

Sash windows from Quickslide are low maintenance and designed to replicate traditional timber sash windows whilst incorporating the benefits of PVCu. Operating like traditional sash windows, their design lends themselves to that of original sash windows.

Bay windows

If the property has original bay windows, it is especially important to consider the proportions are identical to the current designs. It may be worth opting for custom made bay windows if this proves to be difficult.

Contemporary casement windows

Alternatively, for a contemporary spin on a period property, casement windows in aluminium offer a clean, simple and stylish finish that can breathe new life into a home and add to the overall aesthetic.

Whether you opt for a like-for-like design or add a contemporary feel to the property, retrofitting existing homes with modern insulating, energy saving technology will improve your eco credentials and make for a more energy efficient home.

To restore

When restoring heritage features such as sash windows, it is advisable to keep as much of the original material as possible; typically, up to 90% of the original timber and glass can be re-used. Make sure to proceed with caution and to take care when working, old material can be fragile and over repairing signs of age can be detrimental to the property’s character.

Period properties are charming and so easy to fall in love with, but what many homeowners don’t realise, is the amount of TLC they require. There will come a time when weathered features, such as windows, need reviving. Be that through careful restoration or by upgrading the original features with like-for-like designs that will also improve thermal efficiency and security while boosting the aesthetics in line with the home’s original glory.

Further information....

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