Clearview North October 2013 - Issue 143 - Page 48

CLEARVIEW EXCLUSIVE DOORS&WINDOWS THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF SASH WINDOWS In the previous two issues of Clearview, Alan Burgess, MD at Masterframe Windows Ltd has explored the materials used for sash windows and the change in perceptions of products since the early days of the 1970’s. This month, in his final contribution, he focuses on the history and future of sash windows… “I am always saddened with the “casement mentality” this country seems to promote. When price is the only factor, products will be reduced, inferior components replace quality ones, corners cut to provide MTC, the minimum technical compliance and nothing more. I do understand selling is a tough business and there’s always been a temptation (amongst weak sales people) to cut prices. This however simply creates the criticism that the industry has been saddled with since it started, a total disregard for the way cheap windows affect a buildings appearance. Properties with sash windows seem to have been affected more than most, mainly because original frames could be left in-situ and just the sashes themselves replaced with inserts. Conservation officers have not prevented this carnage but are now slapping Article 4 directives onto properties so that they get to say what and how replacement windows will look. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure casement windows are made to current standards and perfectly good windows, it’s just they change the appearance so dramatically that the end result is abysmal. Unfortunately this cost element has entered the replacement sash window market. Only last week, I walked the streets of Westminster where a housing association (and the window contractor) are being pursued by the local council for installing PVCu sash windows without planning permission. As flats and rented accommodation, the housing association should have had planning approval but didn’t bother. Instead they instructed a window company to install PVCu sash windows. Shiny white plastic, Georgian bars inside the units, face drainage and missing drainage caps, unnecessary trickle vents, ugly plant on horns and no appreciation for profile depths mean the streets are littered with poor examples of double glazed sash windows, each one a real eyesore. Whilst the planners probably don’t know just how authentic PVCu sash windows can be, their immediate reaction is to ban PVCu and take retrospective action, against those guilty of breaching the planning laws!” So what does the future hold for replacement sash windows? A good example of the bad 48 OCT 2013 “Well despite the frightening scenario above, the opportunities for sash windows have never been greater! PVCu seems to have turned a “credibility corner”, its recycling attributes have improved its life span and its acceptance will be assured if the industry designs and manufactures products that are sympathetic to the originals and the buildings in question. This means specifying wood foiled finishes, plant on bars, run through horns, deep bottom rails and slim transoms, with tradition jointing methods that provide authentic detailing. Yes, these all add costs onto the finished project, but the planners then accept Good sash windows go unnoticed… The property on the right is a PVC sash. them as ideal solutions, the home owner gets plastic windows they won’t have to paint ever again, and the property value is maintained not diminished. With an estimated 44 million timber box sash windows installed and the vast majority being replaced with inappropriate casement or tilt turn designs or poor quality vertical sliders, the opportunity for this market remains huge, either for first generation replacements or replacing these earlier installations. And with sash window installation figures of circa 400k pa, we are still replacing less than 1% per annum. ‘Welcomed for its green credentials’ Timber has a “natural advantage”. The material is welcomed for its green credentials but exterior coatings can have issues. Aluminium has strength, slender sight lines and coloured finishes on its side and is ideal for commercial buildings, but lacks the chunkiness of timber sections. PVCu, as I’ve said, has found new favour, is generally identical in size to its timber counterparts and good examples can deceive even the most critical eye. Other materials will no doubt provide competition for these established materials, especially wood composites, pre reinforced PVC systems and GRP or fibre glass, but one thing is for certain, these new materials all bring extra costs but given the right education, the sash window market not only appreciate good design but are willing to pay for it too.” To read more, visit