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Timber windows - how high maintenance are they really?

(31 Posts)
lostindubai Sun 10-Jan-16 23:05:24

We'll be renovating a 60s/70s build soon and I'd like to do it as ecologically as possible. I know PVC windows are easy to look after but this time I'd love to try timber windows. Dp is resisting though as he reckons they'll need regular repainting and he doesn't want the extra cost/hassle. I'm sure it can't be that difficult though. What do they really need?

cressetmama Mon 11-Jan-16 13:40:59

We have a 1970s house with timber windows and on the weather side of the house, they have needed almost annual work. However, ours are varnished and the varnish just doesn't last because of the UV and constant lashing from the rain. So this year, we are having that elevation of the house re-rendered and we will strip all the window frames back to bare wood and use an oil instead. It will still require annual maintenance, but oil is easier to apply quickly. PigletJohn suggested the idea of linseed oil but we shall use an American boat product we have used before and see how successful we are. Ecologically, I'm not sure our juice is that green, because it contains some petroleum extracts which help with curing, but linseed would be.

lostindubai Tue 12-Jan-16 04:15:37

Thanks for your post Cresset very helpful. Looks like dp was right then, I wonder how much it would be to get someone in to coat the windows each year. Surely not a major job. But I can see his point, it's a lot different than PVC where you can just leave it.

Barbeasty Tue 12-Jan-16 08:09:27

The actual painting isn't too expensive, but is there anywhere that you'd need scaffolding to safely reach the windows? It cost us about 50% of the cost of replacing them with upvc because we needed scaffolding to reach the rear windows above the conservatory.

I MUCH prefer wood, but last year I had to go with my head and replace them with plastic.

Are you putting new windows in? If you're keeping existing wooden windows then check their condition carefully- if previous owners haven't maintained them properly then it might be too late.

NewBallsPlease00 Tue 12-Jan-16 09:43:47

We're hoping to replace our windows soon- likely wood at front (conservation area) and upvc at back
I much prefer wooden Windows but the current ones are rotten, and as we intend to stay 10-15 years don't want to be replacing them again- so plastic at the back it is (will be...)

LeotardoDaVinci Tue 12-Jan-16 09:57:14

What about alu-clad windows?? We have wood windows which are (as described) aluminium clad so you select a colour for the aluminium- we've had ours 8 years and they could be painted going by the outside appearance but wooden on the inside. In all that time they have needed no maintenance. My parents replaced their 1970's house's wooden windows with alu-clad and the house is warmer than it ever was with it's original wooden windows.

wonkylegs Tue 12-Jan-16 10:03:36

Depending on the finish it's really not that bad. Ours need repainting every 8years, we paid a decorator to do them and it wasn't unreasonable despite requiring scaffold in 2 areas ( we got other work done whilst scaffold was up - cleared gutters, repointed a patch of brickwork, got some leading fixed) they also repainted the fascia boards.
Ours are double glazed wooden sashes and are truly a thing of beauty, nothing we were shown in UPVC even came close to being as nice. They were comparable in cost too (very large sash windows difficult to do in any material)

wonkylegs Tue 12-Jan-16 10:06:24

We replaced ours because they were single glazed but despite being 140yrs old there was no rot which shows how they last if looked after. These ones are Sapele and should of looked after last as long.
Softwood windows are less durable.

Sunnyshores Tue 12-Jan-16 11:40:35

we have hardwood windows which are painted. The house is relatively sheltered, every 2 years they need a bit of a sand down in some areas and a quick repaint. DH can do lower windows over a sunny weekend, builder takes a couple of days to do upper ones, £400. It is more hassle, but looks so much nicer than plastic IMO.

Pipistrella Tue 12-Jan-16 12:06:30

In terms of cost PVC is a bit of a false economy; frequently the outer coating wears away and you then get ingress of mould and algae into the plastic which cannot be removed and looks dire.

You might get 20 years out of them before they are so ugly you have to replace them.

We have one UPVC window in a house of orginal sash windows and it's the only noisy window in the house - honestly the searing creaking and rattling in the wind keeps me awake.

It was either fitted really badly or this is just what they do sometimes...

the sashes can be repaired and sorted almost indefinitely, I'd go with wood every single time.

PVC looks hideous anyway!

MaynJune Tue 12-Jan-16 13:35:49

My hardwood windows only need painted with a really good quality paint every six years or so, and they really catch the weather.

whatevva Tue 12-Jan-16 13:47:45

We had hardwood ones and they just needed a sand and stain every couple of years. It is much easier than painting softwood ones.
Unfortunately, they were only single glazed which resulted in a lot of condensation and black mold on the inside which was especially bad in the bedrooms. One of the frames got a bit warped when we had building work done, and let in too much noise. The frames were not deep enough to put a decent double glazed unit in, so we replaced them with upvc triple glazed.

I have kept the hardwood front door and surrounds, and a big feature window - they would look crap in upvc.

White upvc soon looks tatty - it needs regular washing.

Ludways Tue 12-Jan-16 13:58:37

We live in a four bed detached which catches the wind, we paint every 3 years and it costs around £1k a time. Looks great for 2 years and then peels away and looks crap until we can track down and get commitment from a painter to do it again.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Tue 12-Jan-16 14:07:33

We also paint our north facing front about every 3 years. I do love our timber windows but they are a bit of a labour of love. We haven't done the south facing back in about 6 years now though and it still looks fine. I like to keep the front looking nice so I don't get pissed off when I come home everyday.

redhat Tue 12-Jan-16 14:12:04

We had wooden sash windows in our old house and I am about to get a quote for the windows in this house. This time I'm getting quotes for upvc sash windows since the maintenance on the wooden windows was too much for us - repainting every couple of years (and this house has a lot of windows). We will be here for the next 25 years hopefully so I need a low maintenance option.

Pipistrella Tue 12-Jan-16 14:22:47

Bear in mind that many UPVC sash windows have a habit of jamming, they mechanism is different to the wooden ones and doesn't work very well (or so I have read from people in the industry)

Also you will still get the staining eventually, which you can't clean off.

You may also find you have issues with mould and so on if you put UPVC into a Victorian house...they were designed to allow it to breathe.

Sorry to be a downer, I just think the window industry doesn't tell people the truth quite often about the down sides of UPVC. You shouldn't have to repaint wooden windows every two years..probably every 5 years would be enough with a good quality paint.

Pipistrella Tue 12-Jan-16 14:23:42

Would it be cheaper to have someone come and paint them for you, every few years than to pay for new plastic ones? Just a thought.

whatevva Tue 12-Jan-16 14:23:46

I wonder what the maintenance on brand new wooden sash windows would be hmm. The old ones used to last well.

I remember the oldies complaining about how builders did not use properly seasoned timber for modern houses in the 60s/70s. All those windows are practically gone now, yet there are still Victorian sash ones around.

My granddad used to paint his windows black with yellow around the beading, and a yellow front door. A very 1930s-50s look. Windows were certainly a lot more colourful, but a labour of love. Now, they are all dirty white or 3 shades of brown.

redhat Tue 12-Jan-16 16:10:56

We have upvc currently pip and those windows have been in for 15 years without any issues. We are only changing them for aesthetic reasons. Upvc isn't great in terms of looks, I would always rather have hardwood in terms of looks. Its certainly better though in terms of maintenance.

lostindubai Thu 14-Jan-16 15:24:14

Wonkylegs and MaynJune could I please ask what you paint yours with? Every 6-8 years sounds much more appealing than every 2-3!

Thanks to all of you for your comments. Will be getting quotes for both soon. The existing windows are original wooden (and rotten!) with secondary double glazing. We'll be taking all the old out and replacing.

Actually will be replacing the doors too. Any tips for those?

Mamia15 Thu 14-Jan-16 15:40:45

Our old house had sash windows and these lasted much longer than the hardwood windows in our current house. These already need replacing after 20 years despite regular maintenance (revarnish every 3 years). Scaffolding is needed for revarnishing certain windows, making it a job for the professional and finding a decent decorator to fit us in can be difficult. With hardwood windows, these tend to warp after a certain number of years and as a result the house is now very draughty and in high winds, there is a lot of noise. We also have black mould around the frames inside.

lostindubai Thu 14-Jan-16 17:10:35

We won't be getting sash windows - would look wrong on this property. Does the size of window have any bearing on things? A couple of them are quite big.

wonkylegs Thu 14-Jan-16 17:27:12

Dulux trade exterior gloss with their undercoat

wonkylegs Thu 14-Jan-16 17:31:03

We have huge 2.2m high bay windows made of timber, the only difficulty they had was that now they are double glazed they are rather heavy for the sashes so they had to get new lead weights rather than using the orginal cast iron ones. But this won't be a problem if you're not getting sashes.

lostindubai Sun 17-Jan-16 08:16:38

Thanks so much that's really useful smile

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