It might seem like a funny idea, and maybe a little esoteric, but we are firm believers that the oak windows you install in your property are giving you something back! What is it? Well, apart from a supreme sense of happiness and joy, they’re giving you an excellent return on your investment!
Oak Windows Increase Property Value
It’s pretty much that simple. Oak windows are expensive. But they’re expensive for a reason - they are sturdy, reliable, strong and beautiful. As long as they are well looked after, they guarantee you generations of use, meaning that when you pass the house down to your children, you can rest assured that they will be sleeping soundly at night free from draughts!
And if you’re not thinking about passing the house on, but rather selling it, then oak windows are not only a sales point, but will actually increase the listing value of the property! If you are looking to sell on a property - particularly a high end property - a lot of the value comes from the aesthetics rather than the practicality or affordability.
Therefore, period houses which have fully functioning period windows, will be a far more attractive prospect than those hideously ugly white plastic copies. In fact, you can even add more value to the price of the property by upgrading the original oak windows to more modern like for like oak designs in order to ensure longevity in the product and to remove the hassle of replacing the windows and getting planning permission for the new homeowners - especially those in conservation areas.
Estate agents will use this as a massive sales point - “newly installed like for like oak windows, which will last for generations and give you modern standards of insulation and noise prevention” sounds a lot better than “original oak windows”, doesn’t it?
How else do oak windows give back?
Well, and maybe I’m just a massive fan, I can’t help but feel that having such rich, illustrious fixtures in your house just gives you a real sense of joy and wonderment. Most people will overlook their windows as a merely functional necessity that lets air and light in and out, rather than a huge part of the structure of their property.
By basically ignoring what you can do with these fixtures they’re missing out on the truly wonderful influence that the quality of oak offers.
Do you have any other thoughts on what oak windows can do for your property? Leave them in the comments below!
England boasts a vast amount of listed buildings; properties that are protected against development that might harm their historical importance or aesthetic. With over 450,000 of these properties in the country, they are evidence of a rich history and show the development of society and architecture throughout the ages.
What Makes a Property a Listed Building
There are a few specifics that mean a building will gain listed status. For instance any property built before the 1700’s, and which still remains close to its original form and in good condition pretty much automatically qualifies.
Those erected post 1700, and pre-1840 fall into a similar category, though they are more closely scrutinised for their historical and cultural contribution and significance. Falling during the Georgian era, these properties were constructed by notable architects such as James Paine and Robert Taylor.
Buildings following this period, which fall into the Victorian era are far more common, with good examples of Victorian listed buildings being found in Greater Manchester which saw a boom in property development during this time.
Buildings after this period are a lot more closely regarded before they can become listed. They need to demonstrate a rarity, be it an example of a unique style of construction; a notable public place; demonstrable of a sensitivity to a streetscape.
All these factors must be considered by a the Secretary of State for Culture as advised by the English Heritage.
So what does this all mean?
Basically that you are bound by law to keep the aesthetic and architecture of the property as is. You cannot make drastic changes to the property and if you are to make any changes they need to be passed through your Local Planning Authority
Restoring A Listed Building’s Oak Windows
A great deal of listed buildings have oak windows which, over the ages, have become broken or damaged. Old architects didn’t have the modern technology or know-how to create oak windows which won’t swell or develop draughts and you will want to ensure that you aren’t suffering at the hands of time’s wrath.
In order to restore these windows to their former glory, you can make repairs, however this will still need to be passed by the LPA. This is a time consuming and expensive process and is best avoided in lieu of...
Replacing A Listed Building’s Oak Windows
This is the best option if those windows become bothersome or non-functional. Whilst oak windows will age well, the centuries can take their toll, especially if the craftsman who made them originally didn’t have the best tools or materials available.
With current technology and design, safeguarding against future decay has become a science, adding value to the property and ensuring a long-lasting protection. This isn’t, however, as straightforward as installing new frames.
In listed buildings you will have to create like for like replacement oak windows which copy the originals down to the type of timber used, the finish and their dimensions. This will need to all go through the LPA before any work can even begin. A long and often arduous process, we’ve gone through it a great deal and can advise our clients the best way to approach getting planning permission for replacing oak windows in their listed properties.
So if you’ve wound up on this blog because you’re looking for a solution or some advice on oak window restoration in period buildings, then get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to talk to you about your options!
Image by: Sam22
You'll often hear this term bandied around websites specialising in windows, doors or outdoor timber structures with very little explanation as to what it is, and fundamentally what it does. Simply put, it is the combination of three or more layers of timber which are glued together in order to combat the constant threat of swelling.
Whilst we always take steps to prevent this happening within timber products, through drying the timber or treating it with a variety of finishes like paints and varnishes, the problem will always be there. This is because wood is what we call a 'hygroscopic material', meaning that it will constantly try and reach an equilibrium with the moisture content of the surrounding atmosphere.
If you look into the cellular structure of timber you see that there are cavities between the cells, in which water is pooled when it becomes more humid. This is so that trees, when they are growing, can absorb wood without saturating the cells which would otherwise kill them. The problem is that once they are dead, they still do it.
When timber takes on excess water we call it 'movement across the grain', meaning that the timber swells in a certain and predictable direction. By multi-layering sheets of timber, with each layer prone to moving in a certain direction when it swells, we effectively negate the effects of water absorption across the structure, removing the threat of the windows jamming or warping.
Advantages of using this technique are many, with its design features appearing at the top of the list. Utilising mutli-layered timber means that we still get to retain the product's organic beauty, whilst also gaining a material that is far stronger and more reliable than single layered timber frames.
It also means that we don't have to seek unsustainable alternatives which can also give us the same reliability. So we're winning on both fronts!
Multi-layered timber is as easy to work with as any solid wood, though the cost is slightly higher and the prep time slightly longer. However, it does mean that we basically don't have to worry about water absorption any more; meaning that we can create intricate and intuitive designs that we otherwise couldn't. With an increased guarantee, greater durability and further scope for design, it's quite simple the way to go!
Replacing any window system in your property is a big job, but moving changing from casement to sash, or visa versa, is a bigger job than most. This is because rather than being able to retrofit the new windows within pre-existing frames, the old window unit will need to be removed completely and replaced entirely.
This has its benefits and its disadvantages, and there are certain factors that need to be considered before you go ahead and order a new set of windows.
When going from sash to casement, or the other way round, you will greatly alter the façade of your building. This can require planning permission, especially in a listed building or a property in a conservation area. So before you get started, you definitely ought to check to see whether you need to get the Local Authority's go-ahead.
So what do you need to consider when you want to replace your casement windows with sash?
The most obvious is aesthetic. Sash was the go-to design of the 18th and 19th centuries and found everywhere in the Victorian times. As with most things, their popularity died out in the last century, with many home owners opting to install casement windows between the 60's and the 90's.
However, we are now seeing a cultural revival of sash windows which better suit period properties, and can really enhance the way that your property looks. That said, casement windows generally come in more ornate designs which can further impact the individual look of your building.
Another thing to consider is expense and time. Properties which were designed to house sash windows generally have different architectural layouts compared to those that were designed for the installation of casement fittings.
This means that when replacing one design with the other, the designers and installation team will need to consider how the windows will fit into your property. As such, replacements of this type often require bespoke designs to get the best results. This will cost more than your average like for like replacement, but will give your property a real aesthetic boost.
Whilst all of our windows will provide sterling energy efficiency, it is worth noting that the design of casement windows does make them intrinsically more energy efficient and more secure. They will also offer greater ventilation as they open far wider than Sash designs, however the sash's fixed slider means that you can keep the window open just a crack, securely, in order to let a gentle flow of air into your property.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to each window design, but the choice fundamentally comes down to what you want your property to look like. Just remember to speak to the local authority before you start ordering up replacement windows!
Image by B.C. Angell
You might not think it, but the sash window has taken a long and winding road to become one of the most common window frame fixings that we have. Even its origins are littered with contentious points with many people disagreeing on where they even came from.
It was originally believed that they were invented in Holland in the later half of the 1600's, however research from a certain Dr. Hinte Louw has suggested that they may even have originated in England much earlier in the same century. With the name a derivative of the French word for frame (chassis), there are also suggestions that they originated in France, though it seems as if we'll never be quite sure.
Whatever the case, they came to be associated with royalty and high design when they were installed in Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace amongst others, and as such became symbols of wealth and prosperity.
Sash windows became the go-to for architects who had bored with the older casement windows and even meant that crown glass manufacturers started going to painstaking lengths to blow far longer sheets, which would give the building a stunning reflection when the light struck the pane.
Even at this point the frames to these sash windows were made of oak, as the abundance of great British wood meant that manufacturers could afford to use the best materials.
It was not long after the introduction of these frames that the window tax was introduced in 1696 under King William III. A system which levied higher taxation on wealthier citizens (deeming those who were rich to have larger houses and therefore more windows), further catapulted the sash window design into stardom.
Then came the Building Act of the 1700's which required sash windows to be recessed behind the brickwork in order to avoid becoming a fire hazard. However, most people ignored this legislation, and you can still see a great deal of properties between the 18th and 19th century who still contain traditional frames.
As the centuries progressed, the designs became more intricate, with slimmer and more delicate fretwork and mullions employed, demonstrating the superb quality of the oak used in their construction.
Then as we came into the late 19th century we saw a deluge of patents issued for elaborate redesigns which sought to improve upon the classic weight and pulley system, though really none of them took off as the traditional design's simplicity and efficacy rang true.
It was in the early twentieth century that we saw the sash window in decline as cheap and mass produced steel casement frames became the norm.
Thankfully this is a downswing we are finally starting to see turn around as the conservation movement gains momentum and we find people looking to re-utilise the traditional aesthetic of the sash design.
We love oak. To us it is an example of nature at its best, a pure and incredible material which has been used, and continues to be used throughout the centuries. It is our love affair with the material which lead us to start out our business of manufacturing bespoke oak windows and doors, and which still inspires us to this very day.
But what is so great about oak? I hear you ask. Well, our fondness isn't mere whimsy. It is one of, if not the best material for manufacturing windows, doors and so much more.
Strength and Hardness of Oak
With a density of around 0.75 g/cm3, oak wood is very strong, though not so hard that it makes cutting or manipulating it an arduous task. It has a medium bending strength, which means that shaping it is a fairly simple process when unseasoned, though when dry it becomes extremely hard and durable. This combined with its high crushing strength make it great for use in building supports and window and door frames where it will be put under considerable pressure and stress.
Resistance to Infection and Insects
Whilst a lot of woods may require a great deal of treatment to prevent, or at least put off fungus and insects, oak's high tannin content means that it is naturally resistant to such attacks. This makes it ideal for things like external doors and windows where it will come into contact with a lot of moisture and wildlife.
Oak has an inherent natural beauty. The way in which the oak tree grows, produces a long grain with occasional swirls and burs which give each individual cut its own personality. Its intricate and individual style give whatever it constructs a real sense of uniqueness in design. That's not to mention all the kinds of beautiful types available, like Red and White Oak, which have their own quirks.
External wooden units face the issue of movement and cracking due to water absorption, which causes the grains to swell and can cause windows and doors to no longer fit within their frames. Whilst oak can also suffer from the same issue, its tight porous structure means that it will not take on as much water compared to many other woods. Combined with our triple layered hardwood designs and finishing treatments, the problem of movement along the grain is practically negligible in our oak windows.
All of these factors, along with the fact that oak is a sustainable, green product, mean that is ideal for use in construction and design. Along with its rich and lustrous characteristics, it's perfect for outer facing units which will give your property an individual and classic look.