You have a choice of two basic types of window mechanisms. These are – casement windows that pivot from the side or top of the frame and sash windows. Here, two sashes move up and down, one each other, within a frame. A sash is the framework that holds the glass together in a window or door. A combination of cords and pulleys, weights or springs helps slide the window vertically and hold it open. Although they look simple, sash window frames employ an extremely intricate system.
Sash windows are used in British houses from the late 1700s. These windows allow for good ventilation and add to the classic look of your house. They are widely used in Victorian houses. The original timber sash windows had a pleasing window design and a practical application. Modern sash windows, made usually of plastic (PVCu), have the added benefit of low maintenance and sprung counter balance sashes. These are much better than the old iron and lead sash weights which moved on a waxed cord and which were prone to breaking. The new sash windows have the same elegance of the old timber sash windows and, yet, are much easier to install.
Today, new sash windows come with all the benefits of double-glazing whilst imparting a classic beauty to your interiors. Double glazed windows are nothing but two panes of glass with a layer of air or argon gas in between the sheets of glass. Double glazed sash windows have many advantages. Your house is better insulated and kept warm even during the very cold winters. This results in increased comfort and lower heating and fuel bills. Your house is well protected against draughts and cold winds. It is more peaceful due to reduced external noises and ruckus from the traffic. There is virtually no condensation on the windows, which provides better visibility and transparency. The windows are also very easy to maintain. Double glazed windows are more secure and come equipped with a range of security features, including special locks to foil burglars.
Common problems with sash windows include cracked and flaking paintwork, broken cords, rattling joints, timber decay and draughts. A protective coat of paint and some maintenance can help curtail most of these faults. Sash windows can be easily dismantled for repair or for replacing broken parts. However, plastic (PVCu) sash windows cannot be dismantled and repaired as easily as wooden sash windows. Though they do not rot and warp like the wooden windows do, they come with a guarantee for only ten years and are expensive to replace if they malfunction. In the UK they cannot be used in listed buildings and conservation areas because they cannot reproduce the mouldings and details of traditional timber windows. They are completely unsuitable for use in any historic or traditional context. However, they are an ideal solution for homes.