When to replace timber windows - Westbury Windows and Joinery

When do you need to replace your timber windows?

Timber windows give the ultimate touch of elegance to your home, providing the right materials and techniques are used. Badly made windows can quickly succumb to water damage and rot, which will completely ruin the look and feel of a beautiful property.

In one part of the Westbury showroom in Essex, Sales Manager Rob Owens has been busy taking new enquiries on the phone ever since lockdown was lifted. Most of these phone calls are from homeowners looking to get their timber doors and windows replaced. ‘Ever since we got back to work, we’ve had a surge of new clients looking to get new timber doors and windows,’ says Rob, who along with his team in the office, prices quotes and processes orders. ‘As we’ve all spent so much time at home, it’s given everyone the chance to stop and take notice of their property. People are using the different rooms around the house in new ways, using their windows and doors and opening everything up in ways they weren’t before. Inevitably, lots of homeowners are spotting parts of their home that can’t be restored and require upgrading.’  

The appeal for choosing timber windows over uPVC windows lies in their clean lines, subtle detailing and classic character. Unfortunately, timber is not always a well-understood material to work with, and if the wrong kind of wood is used, the doors and windows can quickly deteriorate. With a high exposure to the elements, the timber swells and shrinks, causing joint movement and paint cracking. Cracks cause water to ingress into the frames, which quickly rots the wood.

Rotten windows bring cold draughts into the home and are difficult to open and close. If left for long enough, the frames will rot away completely. Unfortunately, patching up rotten windows is one of the biggest headaches in home improvement. It’s a lengthy process that involves cutting out pieces of wood from the frame; sometimes, the only way to deal with rot is to replace the whole window. We’ve gathered some of the best ways to check for damaged windows, to make it easier to assess whether they need replacing.

Start by inspecting your property from the outside

There’s no better option than to take a walk around your house for a close inspection. Check the frames and search for cracks and apparent damage, such as broken glass. Pay particular attention to windows that you don’t always look out of every day, like the windows in the office, spare room, hallway and bathroom.

Check the parts that usually become damaged first due to exposure; for doors, this is likely to be the bottom rail, and for windows, it is likely to be the bottom glazing beads and the window cill. ‘See how structurally sound the frames are. If I’m at a survey and I can poke a pen through the wood, then some issues need addressing,’ Rob explains.

Regular maintenance isn’t solving the problem anymore

We always recommend that our clients carry out a bi-annual maintenance check to keep their timber windows looking good for years to come, once before winter sets in and once in the spring. It’s always essential to check windows and doors for wear and tear that might turn into a severe issue at a later date – even a hairline crack in the paint can allow water to infiltrate if the weather conditions are particularly bad. If you leave these cracks unattended over the winter, the damage is already done.

While minimal but regular maintenance is an expected requirement, if you are getting to the point where it is starting to become counter-productive because you keep having to re-do the same repairs, your windows need to be replaced. It doesn’t matter how many times you paint and fill a crack; the real issues are going on under the surface and are not being addressed, so more water will seep into the wood and continue to cause more damage.

The window no longer functions anymore

If you use materials such as old softwoods and hardwoods, then slowly and surely the window is subject to movement. In wet weather, it expands, and in dry weather, it shrinks. The moisture in the timber creates the damage and will ultimately stop it from working and functioning correctly all together, making it difficult to open and close them freely.

Choosing a high-quality timber with a long lifespan

When you look at windows that are made from the right kind of engineered wood, such as Accoya, it’s easy to see why they have exceptional longevity. ‘So far, we’ve not had to replace any Accoya windows,’ says Rob. ‘It’s still a relatively new product on the market. No one knew what Accoya was ten years ago, but in the last five to ten years, this material is starting to be used across the market because of its premium qualities.’ We craft all our windows and doors from Accoya, an engineered timber with low thermal conductivity in comparison to traditional softwoods and hardwoods. It also offers better insulation in comparison to uPVC. What’s more, Accoya has up to 75% improved dimensional stability, so it will not warp and let cold draughts in, making your home more energy-efficient.

We believe that it is better to invest in quality windows and doors made from high-performing materials such as Accoya. They don’t just stand out for their elegance; they are also an economical choice when you calculate the lifetime cost. Though uPVC does have a service life up to twenty-five years, the material will discolour over time from exposure to the sun’s UV rays and is a highly unsustainable material. Accoya, on the other hand, has a guaranteed service life of fifty years, is CO² neutral throughout its full lifecycle and is 100% biodegradable. There is evidence to suggest that a well maintained, high-quality timber frame, particularly one coated with a durable long-life paint such as Teknos, can last over a century.

We design and craft bespoke timber doors and windows that meet every client’s requirements, meaning that you’ll invest in the best products for your unique property. From beautiful sash windows and roof lanterns to bi-folding doors, we mix classic charm with innovative techniques and quality materials. Contact us here or book an appointment to visit our joinery workshop.