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The Rise of UPVC Sash Windows

white upvc sash windows

Blending Classic Style and Modern Practicality in British Homes

UPVC sash windows have become one of the most popular window options in homes across the UK over the last few decades. With their sleek, low-maintenance designs and energy efficient performance, it’s easy to see why UPVC sash windows appeal to so many homeowners. But what exactly are sash windows, and how do UPVC frames improve upon traditional wooden versions?

Sash windows are a traditional style of window that have been used in British architecture for centuries. They are distinguished by their two movable glass panels, or “sashes”, that form a double hung window. The sashes slide vertically up and down in the window frame, allowing for precise control over ventilation and airflow. Originally made from wood, these windows require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best and protected from weather damage over time.

UPVC sash windows have experienced a surge in popularity thanks to this winning combination of form and function. Their low-maintenance nature and ability to replicate the visual appeal of timber sash windows have made them a top choice for homeowners seeking to replace draughty, outdated wooden-framed windows. Contemporary UPVC sash windows are built to last up to four decades with minimal upkeep required. This article provides an in-depth examination of UPVC sash windows. It explores the history of traditional sash windows, the benefits of UPVC frames, how the windows operate, considerations for installing them, and more. Whether you’re interested in sash window replacements or new installations, this overview covers everything you need to know about this popular, durable, and energy efficient modern window option

A Brief History

Sash windows are a traditional style of window that have been used in homes for centuries. The word “sash” refers to the moveable wooden or metal frames that hold the glass panes in place. Sash windows are designed with one or more movable panels, or sashes, that slide up and down in vertical grooves on either side of the window frame.

The oldest-known sash windows were developed in Europe in the 17th century, providing an efficient way to allow fresh air and sunlight to enter homes while offering security and adjustable ventilation. By the Victorian era in the 1800s, sash windows had become ubiquitous in British architecture and a hallmark feature of period homes.

Traditionally, sash windows were constructed from high-quality wood such as oak or mahogany. This gave them longevity, but also required thorough maintenance and repainting to keep them looking their best and protected from the elements.

The Benefits of UPVC Sash Windows

Today, many homeowners are opting for sash windows made with unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (UPVC) frames rather than wood. UPVC is a rigid plastic material that offers a number of advantages over wood:

  • Low maintenance – UPVC does not rot, warp, crack, or require repainting like wooden frames do. A simple wipe down keeps them looking fresh.
  • Enhanced weatherproofing – UPVC frames are better sealed against drafts, moisture, and noise. Built-in weatherstrips also provide insulation.
  • Improved security – UPVC frames are reinforced with steel for greater security and impact resistance. Locking mechanisms are also more robust.
  • Long lifespan – UPVC windows have an expected lifespan of up to 40 years with minimal upkeep required. The material does not degrade or wear out quickly.
  • Energy efficiency – UPVC frames allow for the installation of double or triple glazed glass units for improved insulation, potentially lowering heating bills.
  • Design flexibility – UPVC sash windows are available in a wide range of colours and finishes to suit the style of any home, whether contemporary or traditional.

How Do UPVC Sash Windows Work?

UPVC sash windows function using the same counterbalanced, double-hung structure as traditional wooden sash windows. The window has two overlapping panels, or sashes, that slide vertically on tracks along the window frame.

The sash windows are counterbalanced with concealed weights in the window jambs. The weights are attached via cords or chains to the top rail of each sash. This counterbalancing system allows both the upper and lower sash to be raised and lowered easily when opening and closing the window.

Traditional wooden sash windows used lead weights, but modern UPVC sash windows substitute other materials like steel, zinc, or aluminium for improved longevity and safety. Meanwhile, the sash cords have been replaced by tougher plastic or metal chains that won’t rot or break down over time.

The sliding sash panels allow for precise control over ventilation. Both the upper and lower sashes can be partly lowered, raised, or left in place to adjust the amount of fresh air entering the home. The movable panels also make sash windows ideal for installing window-mounted air conditioners or fans when needed.

UPVC Sash windows sliding in white

Considerations for Installing Sash Windows

Homeowners interested in installing UPVC sash windows should consider a few things first:

  • Glazing options – Single, double, or triple glazing is possible. Double or triple paned glass provides better insulation. Specialty glazing like tinted, patterned, or bulletproof glass may also be available.
  • Hardware – Sash fasteners, pulls, and locking mechanisms should be durable and operate smoothly. Hardware is offered in different finishes like brass, chrome, or white.
  • Frame colour – A wide range of solid or woodgrain effect UPVC colours are available. White is the most common, but shades like black, grey, cream, or oak are also popular. Coloured foils can also overlay UPVC.
  • Installation – Professional installation is recommended, but UPVC sash window replacement kits allow capable DIYers to install new frames into existing window openings. Complete new installations are more complex.
  • Cost – Pricing depends on the window specifications, but UPVC frames are generally more affordable than wood counterparts. Energy savings may offset higher upfront costs over the long run.
  • Compliance – New window installations must comply with building regulations for safety, energy efficiency, and conservation area rules. Window fitters can advise about certifications needed.

With their durability, customisable aesthetics, improved insulation, and classic style, it’s easy to see why UPVC sash windows have become a fixture of modern British homes. They provide an ideal replacement for deteriorating wooden windows in period buildings, combining classic architectural style with modern-day performance and practicality. Contact a window installation company for help choosing an appropriate UPVC sash window for your home improvement project or replacement needs.

UPVC Sash Window costs

UPVC is the most affordable frame material for sash windows. Within PVCu frames, costs vary based on the sash window type. Basic single-hung PVCu sashes start from around £350. Double-hung UPVC sashes range from £500-£800 given the extra materials, glazing and mechanisms. More complex styles like bay and triple sash PVCu windows cost upwards of £1,000 due to the bespoke designs and installation required. Refurbishing existing sash boxes using PVCu sash replacements inside the original frames provides cost savings.

UPVC Sash Window Costs:

Style – Indicative Cost Per Window (installed)

Single-hung – £350-£500

Double-hung – £500-£800

Triple sash – £800-£1,200

York sash – £550-£850

Bow sash – £1,000-£1,500

While UPVC is budget-friendly, the sash configuration complexity significantly impacts final costs. Double-hung remains the most popular style for functionality, cost and convenience.

In summary, UPVC sash windows offer homeowners a modern take on a traditional window style that has been used in British architecture for centuries. The unplasticized polyvinyl chloride frames retain the operational double-hung sash design, but provide enhanced durability, weatherproofing, noise reduction, security, customization options, energy efficiency, and low maintenance compared to traditional wooden windows. UPVC sash windows have experienced a surge in popularity as an appealing replacement for outdated, drafty wooden windows in both modern homes and period properties. With their sleek aesthetics and robust performance, UPVC sash windows offer the best of both form and function.

green sliding sash windows

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