The Georgian Sash Window Guide
Georgian-style sash wood windows are a common site in the UK. From notable buildings such as Harewood House to humble vernacular dwellings. Even modern houses adopt this calssic style. There will always be a demand for fine Georgian Sash windows, both to preserve the heritage of our buildings and to emulate classic Georgian style in modern homes.
Just about everyone has seen this classic wooden window at some point. They aren't exactly rare!
If you’re unsure about the details of the classic Georgian and Georgian style windows I hope this article will share our expereince with this design.
What Are Georgian-Style Sash Windows?
A Georgian-style sash window is made of two sliding sashes. Each sash consists of six or more panes. These panes are arranged into a regular grid pattern, with bars across them. The panes are portrait in proportion, not landscape and are often close to the "golden ratio"
In the homes of the wealthy, large windows and bright rooms were desirable. However, the Georgians couldn't make glass large enough to glaze the entire sash. So we joiners, devided the sash into smaller panes using glazing bars.
The Neo Palladian style which focuses on symmetry, proportion and classical architecture was a large force within the UK during Georgian period and this extended to their sash windows. Us Brits seemed sciptical of the Baroque style of the Europeans during the same period. That's why these the glazing bars are always arranged in a symmetrical gid, almost always with an equal nurmber of panes in the top and bottom sash. This design complimented buitiful brickwork and other structural elements.
Although other windows, such as the casement style window would also be devided into multiple panes, they loose their symetry as soon as they are opened. With the vertical sliding of the sash you don't encounter this issue.
London is a hotspot for this window design. We've only made a couple of windows for the capital. But you'll see plenty. Ever watched our PM walk from Downing St? You can't get much more quintessentially Georgian Sash windows than those at No.10!
Are Sash Windows Georgian?
Although sash windows were popular during the Georgian period they are not a Georgian invention. Sash windows predate the Georgians. The oldest sash windows we have worked on were made around 1680. The Georgian period was between 1714 - 1837. You find sash windows during the William and Mary period which predates the Georgians. I don't know who can lay claim to the first domestic sash window, but I'd hand the innovation to the Dutch.
Sliding Sash windows continued to be popular during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. During these periods, styles evolved and symmetry was of less importance. The Victorians were able to produce larger pieces of glass. Therfore you'll often see the classic "two over two". The sashes only required a central glazing bar. Variation really did evolve during the post Georgian Era. Arts and Crafts elements, different smaller top sashes, margin bars and decorative glass were all used.
To acheive the truly authentic Georgian period style, here are a few things to consider. Just picking a sliding sash window isn't enough. Sure, the classic six-over-six, eight-over-eight, is a great start. But also avoid adding the decorative horns you see on later Victorian and Edwardian sash windows. These were added for strength but also to add decorative features typical of the time. See below for an example of one of our Victorian Sash Windows.
Another thing to do is match what you have! If you already have authentic Georgian sash windows, have them copied, or repaired, as closely as possible. Wood is perfect here. It can be moulded and joined to make a very close copy of any existing details.
If your property is listed taking the step described above is essential, so to will be the required listed building consent. In this situation, consider using restoration glass. It is nearly impossible to reuse glass. It's painstaking to try and remove glass, only to break a pane just at the last and even if you do get it out, the panes are often badly scratched by over zealous painters over the decades. We do keep panes of old glass here and have been able to reuse them on jobs. It's incredibly satisfying to see a very authentic looking Georgian sash window being made.
How are Georgian sash windows made?
There have been some changes to how sliding sash windows are made but not that many. If we make authentic sash windows, the pockets, pulleys, weights and glazing will be pretty much the same. Mortice and tenon and housing joinery. We do however add draught resistant seals and will normally use our factory applied spray coatings.
Where things change is with modern requirements. Single glazing is not appropriate unless your home is listed. Therefore we introduce doube glazing, slim double glazing or Vacume units such as Fineo or Pilkington Spacia. Trickle vents are also now required. We will often revert to spiral balances instead of weights and pulleys.
The glazing bars are a very important detail and we have three options.
Solid Glazing Bars - As the name implies, these are made from solid timber and the glass sits within the the bars. We use these when making original single glazed Georgian sash windows or when using slim double glazing. They can be used with normal double glazing but the glazng bars end up 45mm wide instead of 22mm or even 15mm.
Applied Glazing Bars - These are also known as stick on glazing bars. These allow us to use slim glazing bars of 22mm over a sheet of double glazing. We've used this system for a very long time and it's highly effective.
What are Georgian Sash windows made from?
Authentic sash windows are made from wood. That's what we make our windows from. It's proven and reliable in service. It is true that you can get sash windows made from different materials. If you want plastic windows, we can't help you.
What colour are Georgian sash windows?
Despite these days white being the default choice, Georgian sash windows were more likley to be off-white or a pale stone colour (think bath stone). The more white the shade, the more expensive the paint was. If you're really flush for cash you could emulate some of the mega wealthy of the past. Gold leaf anyone....
These days we can coat your Georgian sash windows using our factory applied coating system in any colour you want. We can even split finish so you have one colour on the inside and a contrasting colour outside. Be warned though, the "split finish" option is expensive.
Are Georgian Sash Windows Expensive?
I could be rude and say "if you have to ask you can't afford it". It is true that a good quality wooden sash window will be more expensive than a standard casement window. But on the other hand, if your home is a genuine Georgian house or built in the Georgian style I think you need to do the right by the house and get the windows to suit it. On the other hand, adding Georgian sash windows to a home that's not designed for them isn't a smart move.
How long will Georgian sash windows last?
Sash windows have the potential, and that is the key word, potential, to last hundreds of years. We already know this to be true thanks to the legacy of our listed buildings. If you want to make sure that your sash windows last you will need to maintain them. Keep them clean and keep the coatings intact to maximise the service life. Making sure the fabric of the building is working properly too. Examples of things that do harm are blocked and overflowing gutters, failure of the pointing and unchecked condensation.
If you would like Georgian sash windows for your home in the North Devon, Devon, West Somerset or East Cornwall area feel free to drop us a line 01769 572 134