Why you should choose timber for your heritage window frames

Window on leafy Cotswolds house facade

Wood is one of the most enduring building materials for window frames - Credit: Jeremy Binger/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Kevin Underwood, technical director at the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), on why timber is one of the most beautiful, sustainable and durable solutions for windows

Timber is one of the oldest and therefore most enduring building materials, providing homeowners with a beautiful, sustainable and, importantly, durable solution for windows.

When replacing windows in a period or heritage property, there are a wide range of considerations – from material to colour, to warranty implications and building regulation compliance. For sensitively replacing original sash windows, this is particularly important, especially when needing to ensure that the windows are in keeping with the aesthetics of the local area.  

The Cotswold Design Code, which aims to protect the distinctive qualities of the region, advises that, while other materials, including metal, may be appropriate in certain contexts, timber window frames – and doors – are generally required.  

Timber windows can offer a wide range of benefits for Cotswold homeowners looking to replace their windows, including the following... 

The Cotswold town of Stow on the Wold

Traditional timber-framed windows enhancing homes in Stow-on-the-Wold - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Long-lasting performance

The British Woodworking Federation’s (BWF) Home Improvement Index found that half of heritage property owners replace windows less than every 15 years. However, when correctly maintained, wood window frames can last up to 60 years, with certain types of modified wood even boasting a lifespan of 80 years.  

The durability of wood window frames means that they can last longer and actually work out less expensive over their lifetime compared to alternatives. Not only can wood window frames have a long service life – often longer than other commonly-used window materials – but they can also provide lower whole life costs when maintenance and replacement are factored in.

Engineered, treated and modified timbers, which are primarily used by BWF members in the manufacture of wood window frames, enhance longevity. Modern wood window frames also incorporate a range of features engineered to improve durability including rounded edges and water shedding angles on horizontal surfaces such as sills and beads, which offer the best and most durable finish. 

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Wood window frames can also have a positive benefit if you are looking to sell your home in the future. Research has shown that people are willing to pay an average of 11% more for a home with well-maintained period features, of which traditional wood windows can be a key aspect.  

Picturesque Cotswolds street scene in Burford, Oxfordshireshire, UK

For sensitively replacing original sash windows, it's important to ensure they are in keeping with the aesthetics of the local area - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Easy maintenance  

Modern timber window frames require far less maintenance than is often thought. Many manufacturers and BWF members offer guarantees of up to 10 years for paint coated products and seven years for wood-stained products.  

This means that all that is needed within the first decade of the frame being installed is a simple rub down with sandpaper and a refresher coat of paint. However, it’s important to always check with your supplier as to what is required to keep windows in the right condition.

Historic houses in the Cotswold village of Castle Combe, described as the prettiest village in Engla

The Cotswold Design Code aims to protect the distinctive qualities of towns and villages, such as scenic Castle Combe - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

View of flowers in pots on a traditional English cottage house window

Timber windows are a natural choice for heritage property owners - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wood window frames can also be easily repainted, so the look of a home can be transformed in a cost-effective way to meet the homeowner’s preference throughout the window’s lifespan. Not only does this enable the windows to remain looking fresh throughout their life but it also allows new homeowners to make their own mark on a property. 

It’s also worth noting that the Cotswold Design Code advises that the use of stained timber should generally be avoided as it is not a traditional joinery finish and does not complement Cotswold stone. 

Putting wood back in the frame 

Timber windows are a natural choice for heritage property owners looking for long-lasting performance, easy maintenance and aesthetic appeal. Timber window installation and maintenance is a key aspect of any heritage property and, in addition to retaining the character of a property’s original features, can also add value to a heritage property. Their improved durability means they can be longer-lasting and less expensive over their lifetime compared to alternatives, providing a lower total cost of ownership for Cotswold homeowners.

READ MORE: Look inside a Cotswold stone barn conversion near Lechlade.