Please visit the new Window Preservation Standards website at:
I’m very interested in this field. In the UK I am chairman of ISSE – see web site – and have long been an advocate of the preservation of traditional timber windows – which are very rarely decayed beyond repair – if at all. Often broken sash cords (or blocked weights where the weight has got stuck at an angle in the box sash), old putty and poorly applied layers of paint are the only defects. Such windows are all too often ripped out and replaced by plastic on the grounds of being maintenance free – yet due to the short lifespan of manufacturers and the frames and hinges being composed of many cut or forged metal parts they break or wear out and cannot be replaced resulting in yet another window replacemnt often only a few years later. Whereas seasoned timber including softwood will last hundreds of years and have an elegant and complementary, usually from being handmade to fit, appearence not possible to achieve with mass manufactured /produced products which look ut of place and at odds in a traditionally constructed building.
Another area of concern is plastic guttering and downpipes. These have caused more dry rot in the UK than anything else. They are in gfact despite marketing claims very high maintenance – constantly requiring refitting and adjustment due to expansion and contraction and degrade with temperature extremes and UV light.
Wheras cast iron is heavy and can withstand storms, heavy snow and rain, and last over 100 years or indefinately if looked after appropriately.
William, thanks for your interest in preserving windows.
Here in the USA it is exactly the same: windows that could be maintained and repaired are ripped out, thrown away and replaced with cheap, disposable plastic windows.
Do you have any formal written standards or guidelines in the UK for saving the fine old windows when you are doing your building survey work?
I am planning to be in the UK this coming June, perhaps we can meet up to save some windows. Are there any projects with window preservation underway, or museums with historic window exhibits I should plan to see?
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