Is there such a thing as low-maintenance wooden windows?

(23 Posts)
BNmum Mon 25-Mar-13 21:11:41

Hi, we're looking to move into a period house which has upvc windows on the back of the house and rotten wooden single glaze windows on the front which will need replacing. I would like to replace these with painted wooden frames but don't like the idea of painting and maintaining them, has anyone come across any low maintenance wooden frames?
Any help much appreciated!

How low maintenance do they have to be? We painted out windowframes maybe 8 years ago and they don't look to need repainted again yet. These are just traditional sash windows.

PigletJohn Mon 25-Mar-13 23:58:51

a breathing paint system should look good for at least five years, Dulux guarantee their Weathershield for six.

Hot sunlight is the enemy of outdoor paint, white reflects it so lasts better than dark colours. If you neglect the finish and let rain penetrate, it will be badly damaged (so will the wood) and need extra attention.

I have been trying linseed oil on hardwood recently, but it's too early to say. It is very easy to clean and recoat, though, as no undercoat required, and usually no sanding.

BNmum Tue 26-Mar-13 07:42:35

That's interesting, I was under the impression that windows would need to be repainted more frequently especially as the front of the house is south facing. Do you strip back to bare wood before repainting?
I think I'll investigate the use of linseed more piglet, are you using linseed oil or oil based paint like holkhams? http://www.linseedpaintandwaxco.co.uk/products-page/
This stuff looks fab, I'll have to have proper look when I've got 5 mins.

PigletJohn Tue 26-Mar-13 07:57:51

If you repaint before the coating has broken down, you do not have to strip off before repainting, just sand and clean.

I am using oil on hardwood, not paint. It is water-permeable.

well I'd say upvc all the way! Having fought with painting windows for years we gave in to plastic-fantactic 18 months ago! white inside (lovely clean & bright) and rosewood outside - this is a nice woodgrain finish, not yuk stripey mahogany!!
And we have just ordered our upvc porch and composite front door - the latter is a lovely pale woodgrain called Irish Oak (new I thin, not the orangey medium you sometimes see), so our existing warped & sticking door will be no more!
So if you are not in a listed building or whatever I know which way I'd go grin

architectming Tue 26-Mar-13 11:38:07

Have you consider a aluminium / timber window? made with timber but the side facing the outside element will be cladded with aluminium. So you get the lovely feel of timber on the inside and have an easier maintenance on the outside.

Have a look at Olsen Windows

http://www.olsenuk.com/productsinfo.asp?pro=386&sbc=2

Hope this help and good luck!

BNmum Tue 26-Mar-13 19:59:05

Ooh thanks architect I hadn't considered that option, as you can see I'm very new at all this. At the moment we live in a new build with upvc windows which do the job. However, I feel a period property needs a completely different approach and the upvc windows already installed look completely wrong. I love the look of wooden windows but the maintenance was an issue for me. I suppose it's getting the balance right between aesthetics, heat retaining properties, finances and maintenance. I'll check out the link thanks....

ExhaustTed Tue 26-Mar-13 22:24:44

Hi, we have just been having the same debate here. We really like the look of wood windows, and have had a couple of quotes, but we are really worried by the maintenance required, and the cost. We are thinking of getting these residence 9 windows residence9windows.co.uk/.
They are the closest to wood looking windows I've seen (to the point that we thought they were wood in the shop (but we might just be a bit dense)), but they are plastic, and they come in loads of great colours. We are thinking of getting cream n the outside and oak inside.

unlucky83 Tue 26-Mar-13 23:08:19

Hi If you have the windows replaced they will have to be double glazed (not allowed to fit single glazing now - unless to repair broken glass...)

There are various mixed reports about how long the glazed units last with wooden frames before they become misted and need replacing (just the units)-need drainage channels and the right putty etc ..in upvc the units last longer (they are drained and uPVC doesn't hold water)
Wood frames are more expensive and well maintained will last longer than upvc frames ..but the glazed units are the expensive bit...
Haven't clicked on link -but guessing exhausted ted is talking about composite - and that is an option or you can get the ali clad....but seriously shop around and look at various reports on misted/blown units in wood...
I just had my 1970s 2 mm thick DG in wooden frames replaced with uPVC -but a semi modern style house... I know where you are coming from with a period house...

PigletJohn Wed 27-Mar-13 01:13:48

if you have an old house you can have secondary glazing and keep the style of your original windowframes.

BNmum Wed 27-Mar-13 07:36:37

Just to clarify, the old single glaze units are rotten and will need replacing so secondary glazing/replacing single glazing isn't an issue, plus I would definitely want to upgrade from single glazing to make the house more energy efficient. The problem I have is that upvc just looks wrong on the house due to its age and character, I like the look of wood but not sure if this is the best option - but I don't really know what other options are available. Thanks to other posters I now know the linseed on wood could dramatically reduce maintenance of wood frames, alu-wood clad and composite frames are other options to consider. Does anyone have any idea what the difference in cost would be between these options?

MinimalistMommi Wed 27-Mar-13 07:57:47

unlucky the double glazing blows in UPVC windows too, the rental house we just left before we bought our house in the new year had 'blown' UPVC double glazed units in the porch. Really frustrating when it goes as it totally ruins the look of the windows.

MissTweed Wed 27-Mar-13 08:39:49

We have had this battle for years (I loved the quaint green painted windows at the front of our cottage, DH hated them as he had to maintain them) I also HATE PVC windows/doors!

However... Now we are expecting I have given in as they are also draughty and DH found a fabulous compromise.

We are have PVC door/windows but they are cottage style and are white on the inside/pale green on the outside. The door is more cottagey in style than our current wooden door and to top it all the door/window furniture will be black so unless you get really close you can't tell its the dreaded PVC. They are substantially more expensive than standard cheap PVC but it (will) look good and I can live with it.

Also my MIL has had PVC sash windows installed (listed Edwardian town house) and you would never know!! They look brilliant!! I hate to say it but I am a plastic convert! smile

Miss Tweed you are right - I mentioned the light Oak we are having, but a co we looked at did that pale green, it is v nice - they were A&B Glass Sudbury Suffolk, but we found a better door elsewhere... a local co is getting us a Dempsey Dyer door - in their brochure they had pale greys & creams for doors anyway x

architectming Wed 27-Mar-13 15:20:43

All double glazed windows will eventually have this 'misted' problem, whether it is timber / alu timber or uPVC, the reason why uPVC seems to able to stand the test of time is because the manufacturing cost of plastic windows are cheaper so they can probably make a slightly better quality seal.

I would have thought a reputable company will give a warranty (normally 10 years) on all their windows so I wouldn't worry too much.

Unfortunately, the old saying of 'You get what you pay for' is very true, but I always advice clients that big item such as windows is really important as you need to touch / look at them everyday and you are very unlikely to change them again, so get it right and choose the one that you like.

BNmum, there should be minimal maintenance for alu timber windows as the timber outside is protected by aluminium, you will need to grease the interior from time to time but it shouldn't be a big job. If you are worried about maintenance, have you considered aluminium windows? Yes, it is definitely more expensive than uPVC, but they are virtually zero maintenance apart from cleaning.

Not sure where you are based, but the Grand Design Live show is coming up in May in London, you can measure out all your windows requirement and get a quote from manufacturers exhibited in the show and ask questions like warranty / misted problem etc.

Good Luck!

BNmum Wed 27-Mar-13 16:17:27

Thanks Architect, unfortunately i live in the midlands and a jolly down to the big smoke is out of the question. It's a great idea though, i've just checked out the NEC but there doesn't seem to be any house/build related exhibitions coming up soon.

Has anyone used a linseed based paint on a timber frame? Piglet has got me thinking and if i could get 10-15 years out of a timber frame i think i could manage that. I think i'm going round in circles...

unlucky83 Wed 27-Mar-13 18:49:15

Sorry - veery long -you can tell I looked into this ALOT....
I know the glazed units in uPVC also mist (seals fail) -but I believe that in wood frames you can expect 6-8 years ...rather than 10-15 in uPVC...not do with the expense of making the units it is do with the design of the frame they are fitted in and how they are fitted...eg wood frames might only offer you a 5 year guarantee on the units...
I think it is to do with the wood (being a living material) holding water and this reducing the time it takes to saturate the desiccant beads- uPVC doesn't ...also using the wrong kind of putty to fix the glass in the frames can degrade the glazed unit seal...there are warping issues (if you use soft wood) but from what I could find out uPVC is just as bad for this (they have internal metal reinforcements - which apparently are now just being used in the corners...)
If you look at double glazed units there are drains in the bottoms - so water runs down the window and gets into the frame opening this drains out through holes probably under the outside sill - if you open your upvc window and pour water one of the holes(or even just in the bottom of the frame - should be sloped to the channel) you can watch it run out outside
Apparently wood needs similar channels -but obviously running water through untreated wood leads to rot...
(look at old fashioned wood opening windows and they have lips on them ...the water doesn't run into the frame like it does on standard double glazed windows, sash windows the upper sash protudes)

You need to be careful who you get your windows from ...use a local well establish company, ask around, and ask for references and from people who have had them for a number of years...thats worth much more than trying to claim on a guarantee of a company who no longer exist...(even if it is backed up independently)...

I could be wrong but IIRC aluminum windows aren't as thermally efficient - heat travels through the frames...(unless I guess they are hollow and filled with foam or something)

For all those having 'special' colours and designs ...remember if anything happen to one window frame (accident, you decide to extend, frames warp) you might not be able to match up to what you have and might have to replace the whole lot
(I lived in a house with some dire (mahogany -yuck) uPVC windows, some had warped and were very draughty etc...either I could just have the bothersome windows replaced with more mahogany - or would have to do the whole house...I left it...)

Finally - before you spend a fortune on AAA rated, triple glazed, argon filled (which apparently dissipates anyway) etc etc glazed units - remember it will take years and years to recoup the cost of DG though energy saving - and what we consider to be state of the art thermally efficient now ...in 30 years time may well be the equivalent of the 1970s double glazing I just replaced....and technology is moving much faster now (I think Which did something on this -you will not notice the difference between the highest two ratings and the extra energy you save would not pay for the difference in installation over 50 years or something)

I would really research your options..can be a v. expensive mistake!
Good Luck!

architectming Wed 27-Mar-13 23:23:12

Just had a quick check, unlucky83 is probably right, company will normally only give a 5 years warranty on timber windows but 10 years+ on aluminium windows.

Thermal performance of aluminium windows is just as good as uPVC as it is made out of extruded section with thermal break within the frame.

While it is true today's top of the range technology is tomorrow's redundant waste, but I don't think that should be the deciding factor on choosing uPVC windows. As mentioned before, you are going to live in the house for the next 10-20 years and will see, touch the windows everyday so choose something that you like!

Put it another way, you wouldn't buying a pair of high heels based on how long it will last, would you? ;-)

BNmum Thu 28-Mar-13 07:36:10

Thanks unlucky for sharing your finding it made interesting reading. This home is our forever home and it will be a labour of love to renovate it to its former glory. It is an old red sandstone building so i do feel that i have to be both sympathetic to the building and practical. I think that a painted/colour frame would suit the building best but not 100% sure so i've decided to have a drive around to research what others have done. I'm so indecisive!!

fossil971 Thu 28-Mar-13 13:28:02

We have recently put in modern timber sash windows. Maybe we will live to regret it but one reason was that they CAN be repainted, so we or a future owner can change the colour scheme of the house rather than being stuck with 2012 pale grey or whatever. It would be a fiddly job but theoretically possible.

unlucky83 Thu 28-Mar-13 14:56:12

Glad it was helpful - makes all those hours of dithering over the windows for my house almost worth it !!!!
Re the type to get - I agree that appearance and that you like them! is most important - but you will see v. expensive glazed units being pushed - they look the same as 'normal' (British Standard) ones but are supposedly super energy efficient ...apparently they actually make very little difference and cost a heck of a lot more...
(And in theory - you could put better glass in the frames in future...)

Re matching in future -actually you can buy paint for uPVC -never done it or seen it done but might be an option (especially as paint technology moves on!)

PigletJohn Thu 28-Mar-13 15:03:15

I have successfully painted UPVC (and ABS) with non-drip oil-based gloss, no primer or undercoat. It lasts well.

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