Plastic, aluminium and other materials do have their place, but for an authentic period home, timber windows are essential. They may be a little more expensive but they ensure the original charm of a period home is retained. With certain properties they really are a must, otherwise you could detract from their value, break listed building rules and destroy our valuable heritage. If you own a period home always check with you local planning office for guidance. For North Devon Click here
Wooden windows have been with us for a long time and have evolved along with our building styles. Windows of the past were well made from durable timbers; many examples are still with us today. Unfortunately the reputation of timber windows and doors suffered during the last part of the 20th century due to a focus only on bottom line cost. This of course prompted a huge surge in the use of Plastic or PVCu.
Although PVCu does have it’s applications and can sometimes be a good choice, it is not always the answer, especially in old houses. With chunky sections and clumsy lines they are not always the best choice for a period home. Many areas of the country have lost massive parts of our collective architectural heritage due to the indiscriminate fitting of inappropriate PVCu windows. It is truly sad to see this loss. No surprise that English Heritage will not allow plastic windows for older or listed properties. Click HERE for building conservations website.
On the plus side a renaissance in our interest in the built environment has prompted us to consider our buildings more carefully. If you are thinking of having windows fitted review all the options carefully and ask your local joiner for a price. You may well be surprised at how much value well made timber windows and doors could add to your home.
I've shared quite a few of our recent projects on the blog and the gallery section of our website. Many of those jobs are the finished article and examples of what happens when a good client and a skilled team come together. However, there are plenty of jobs we do and value just as much, but perhaps don't have the dramatic results that creates special photos. Here's a selection of some of them in various stages of completion in the workshop.
Cutting Carboard Tubes: Yes, it may not seem like a great contract, however our customer needs the tubes cut into set sizes to protect items they ship. We have the equipment to complete the task accurately and it provides a valuable service. We've also made shipping crates for glass and museum display equipment too.
Custom Display Plinths: Simple items made from simple materials, MDF and pine in this situation and painted. Our client needs to have custom plinths made to suit various items requring display. We also have the plints we've already made back in for patch up and paint as required.
Preparing Shop Fitting Components. Here we are working for a client who has a busy shop fitting business. We help out with various bits each year, most of which slot neatly into our joinery workflow. On this occasion we put together CNC cut MDF sections and applied decorative laminate provided by the client. Personally I've never enjoyed using laminates, I find them very unforgiving to work with. However one of our team is very experienced in this area and has made many reception desks and the like with a previous employer. This gave us the chance to learn from him and broaden our skills a little more.
Repairing Joinery: It's always a balance when repairs are needed, when do you reach the point something is beyond economical reapir? When a repair is possible we do are best to make sure the repair is done in the most appropriate way possible. On the door above we removed the door from site leaving the opening boarded for two nights. We can then work with all the tools at hand to complete a repair. The repair worked very well on this occasion and preserved joinery that must be close to 200 years old.
Sharpening Hand Saws: I've had a few of thesecome through the door this year, from nice on Disston panel saws to the fun little saw with multiple blades shown above. Spending an hour sharpening some saws brings a welcome break from the screen and much needed variety to the day. I would never claim to be the ultimate saw sharpener, but they are always sorted in a way where I would be happy with them.
The thing that comes from using our skills in these different areas is it helps us meet more people in the local area. Perhaps modern technology has removed some of that contact, but meeting a local client in another business setting its always interesting. And being prepared to look after exisiting clients with these services is also good. Building new realtionships with clients always takes time and once that realtionship and trust is established, the work becomes much easier.
This is the second time we've worked on the same bookcase. Shown above is our 2016 effort, below is around 2007 when we originally made and fitted the piece. One of the great things about painted furniture is it can be more readily adapted for a different situation. The catalyst here was an extension added to the house which made the original location unsuitable. However a new spot was found and we set the bookcase up and it looks great in it's new location. It's incredible just how much has changed within the 9 years when we first installed the bookcase in terms of how we share our portfolio. As you'll notice from the image below, we were in a situation where we took photos and printed them to pop in a photo album. Now we're lucky to have a website that we can add our work to, the qulity of the images is improved too.
Another factor with painted furniture is the mix of materials it allows us to use. Although MDF is not viewed as a "premium" material, the fact is it works superbly well for many aspects of painted and fitted furniture. Backs of units, short shelves and panels are some of the areas where this material can prove its worth. Nearly all the issues with MDF come from it being used in the wrong application. As with any material, if you know it's strenghts and weaknesses you can use it accordingly.
Paint also allows for changes to happen over time. if areas are damaged a repair is easily made and overpainted. Or if alternative room layouts require different colours the whole piece can be chaged quickly and easily. Ironmongery can also be swapped with any change of location normally well disguissed. Most of our furniture is hand painted which also gives a less clinical look and is well suited to older homes. Hopefully the bookcase will reside in it's current location for a good long while, but if it does need moving I'm sure we'll be able to adapt it as required.
Slim double glazing has been around for a while now and it's prominence within joinery and the construction industry was raised during a 2009 episode of "Grand Designs" on channel 4. If you'd like to see that episode you can view it on channel 4's catch up service here, you'll just have to register before you can view and FFWD to 31:00 to see the section on the windows. We've used slim units over the years and view them as a usefull option for our clients. You can see from the image below how the phrase "slim units" was coined, especially when compared to the standard double glazing unit positioned behind it.
One of the things we appreciate most about slim units is the chance to use completely traditional methods of construction and detailing when the project demands it. This is especially true in respect to glazing bars. With a standard double glazed unit the slimmest glazing bar we can work with is 36mm, and even then, 36mm can sometimes be too slight and on occasion glazing bars can be increaed up to 40mm to 45mm to support and conceal the edges of a standard double glazed unit. You can see below some traditional glazing bar sections, typical of the Georgian and early Victorian period from Peter Nicholson's "<Mechanic's Companion>". We would be able to make all the glazing bars below and glaze them with slim unis, the only change being adding a bit of extra depth to the rebate but no change to the width that is normally around 18mm to 22mm.
As I mentioned, you'll notice I used the word "option" at the start of this write up. The reason is that when it's possible to use standard double glazed units I would always recommend doing so. Standard units are more efficient, better value and easier to get hold of. And even single glazing is still not always such a bad thing. Single glazing can't break down (you'll know if your double glazing is broken down as misty look develops inside the unit) and as long as the pane of glass is not actually broken or shattered it will last forever. Other things to bear in mind are that lead times are longer with slim glazed joinery. Due to the small size of slim units, they require a great deal of hand finishing during the production, this boils down to an extened lead times. Also the glazing takes longer. It is not accpetable to bed any double glazed units into putty, therefore we bed and seal the slim units into their rebates, this is then allowed to cure for 24 hours. We then apply the putty, the putty will then require two weeks to skin before paint can be applied and we would always recommend that paint is applied to the putty before fitting. This creates a lead time from starting the joinery to having it fully painted, ready for fitting of 8 weeks. Once you include the pricing of the job and fitting the overall project time of 9 or 10 weeks from inital inquiry to finished project. There are ways you can reduce the project time, such as not having them painted by us or sorting out your own glazing. However, do be warned, it is our experierience and only our experience that slim units really do benefit from being sent out in fully finished joinery.
So if you do have a project you think slim units might be suitable for please do get in touch, we'd be happy to share our experience with you and provide a proposal for your project 01769 572 134