Why Wooden Windows Are Growing In Popularity

Published Friday 07th November 2014

The earliest windows were just holes in a wall. The second earliest windows had a wooden frame, and it's a testament to their timelessness that they’re still in fashion to this day.

In this guide we shall explore the many reasons why wooden windows are growing in popularity, and although slightly more expensive than other means, in the long run can add value and character to your house that other window types simply can’t.

House + Wooden Windows = Higher Value

Money makes the world go round, so let’s start there. Adding wooden windows will increase your house value. UPVC (Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) may be cheaper, but they have a life expectancy of thirty-five years before cracks appear, they become brittle, and lose their glossy finish. Wooden windows typically last over one hundred years, and so although initially more expensive than uPVC, their biggest competitor, they can last over three times as long.

Furthermore, if you have a period home then plastic windows can seriously detract from your house value, as they will look out of place next to older materials, such as stone and slate. There has recently been a plea by English Heritage for people to stop using uPVC windows in conservation areas as it’s spoiling the look of them.

Environmentally Friendly

Only fifty percent of uPVC windows are recycled, the rest end up in a landfill or incinerated. At the end of their life wooden windows can be used as an environmentally friendly bio-fuel. Timber is a natural material, and often the entire process is sustainable, with more trees being planted than are harvested (especially in Scandinavia). The production of uPVC windows emits many harmful chemicals, some of which are the subject of international conventions to be banned. Greenpeace recently highlighted this issue - publishing a guide urging people to use timber windows over uPVC.

Low Maintenance

A common misconception about wooden windows is that they require a lot of maintenance. While it’s true that you need to take care of them, a quick wipe down, and a brush coat of the correct paint is usually enough to protect the window for another five years.

UPVC windows often crack and require painting to keep their glossy finish, not to mention trying to get rid of the algae that can grow in the cracks. Wooden windows can also be easily repaired on the rare occasions they get damaged. People in favour of uPVC will often state that wooden windows require much more maintenance, and while this is true in the short term (if you can count once every five years as a significant amount), in the long term this is certainly not the case. 

In Fashion

Interior decorating is a must to keep your house from looking dated. When I walk into my grandparents’ house I feel like I’m back in the sixties, with the beige wallpaper and brown furniture.

It’s important to keep your house up to date, and a good place to start is with wooden windows and floors, as they never go out of fashion. A luxury New York loft, the accommodation I often dream about, wouldn’t have as much character if instead of a thick wooden frame the windows were plastic. That’s not part of my dream at all. If like me you spend time looking out of the window daydreaming, then I’d want that dream to be framed by an attractive material like wood. 

Performance

The properties of timber windows enable extremely high performance in relation to weather tightness, security, thermal performance, energy ratings and u value (the measure of a material’s effectiveness as an insulator in buildings). Modern manufacturing processes enable wooden windows to ‘breathe’ which helps to maintain a proper dampness balance. Wooden windows are also extremely durable and resistant to deformation, warping, and cracking.

Multiple Options

There are plenty of options if you are considering wooden windows. The big three types are:

Softwood:

·         Suits both temporary and period style homes

·         Significantly cheaper than other types (especially if glazed and decorated on-site)

Hardwood:

·         Perfect for period style homes and barn conversions

·         More stable and durable than softwoods

Composite:

·         Consists of timber windows with a weather proof capping

·         Ideal for harsh climates

·         Works better with modern designs

·         Lowest maintenance.

Wooden windows can be stained in any colour, or alternatively varnished to reveal the natural beauty of the timber. With modern technology, wood can virtually be milled into an unlimited array of shapes and profiles. 

The bottom line

In the late 1980s and early 1990s building developers switched to using uPVC windows and many people were sold on the idea of hassle-free windows. However, in recent times, maintaining wooden windows has become significantly easier, and as those uPVC windows are reaching the end of their life expectancy and are starting to look worse for wear, people are returning to trusty wooden windows for their unmatched benefits and beauty.

Have you got any thoughts on wooden windows or want to share your top maintenance tips? If so, be sure to fire us a tweet – we always want to hear what you have to say.

If you want to find out more about the sustainability credentials of timber, or have any questions – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Image used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons