What are sash windows? Interesting facts about sash windows

6 Jul

What are sash windows? Interesting facts about sash windows

Chameleon restores a lot of sash windows around Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and more. Sash windows really add a lot to the style and character of a house if they are in good shape.

However, there are some questions about sash windows that often arise from our customers. The biggest one is what is a sash window? So, today, we’re answering some sash window questions, and we’re going to start with the biggest question of all!

What is a Sash window?

What is a sash window?

The term ‘sash window’ describes any window that doesn’t open on a hinge. There is no outward swing. Instead, for fresh air, sash windows either slide vertically or horizontally, but traditionally, most open vertically.

Traditional sliding sash windows are typically made up of two sashes. These sashes fit into the frame, one in front of the other.

Both sashes are situated in vertical grooves, and they are counterbalanced with weights connected with a sash cord hidden in the frame. These are known as double-hung windows. The windows are easy to open, but they also stay in the position you set them thanks to the perfectly balanced weights. Sash windows can be opened at the bottom or top, or both.

The sash (the glazed area) comprises several smaller panes of glass held together with glazing bars. The number of panes of glass your windows have depends on the era in which your home was made. Some early examples are even double-glazed. While these sash windows operate in the same way, the style has changed throughout the years because of developments in glassmaking and other technologies.

What are the different types of sash windows?

Sash windows were invented in London in the middle of the 17th century, at least the style of sash windows that we know of today. The French had versions of sash windows from the 13th century.

This beautiful window style went on to transform British architecture for hundreds of years. The three main styles of sash windows represent the eras in which they were most commonly used: Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian.

different types of sash window
victorian sash window
Photo from one of our Vacuum double glazing installation projects

It is very important for the look of your property that you choose the right style of sash window when buying new ones. A Georgian property, for example, wouldn’t look the same with Victorian sash windows.

Any reputable window restoration company will know the exact style of the sash windows your home should have. Even if you get double-glazed units installed, the style must remain the same.

gothic sash window
staind glass sash

There are other sash windows, of course. Aluminium and uPVC sash windows are available for modern properties, but as Chameleon specialises in window restoration, these styles are not something we use as we build all of our sash windows the traditional way with the best timber products the 21st century has to offer.

Why is it called a sash window?

This type of window simply comes from the term that wood joiners used for the window itself. A sash window comprises a frame and a ‘sash’ (the window bit). As sash windows were originally invented and used in France, the term ‘sash’ likely comes from the French joiners that brought the windows over to England, but we cannot confirm this.

Which part of the window is the sash?

sash window interior

The sash part of the window is everything that isn’t the window frame itself. So it is the part of the window with the glass, glazing bars and the part that you would lift up or down when opening the window.

The other part of a sash window is the frame, and inside the frame are the weights and cords that connect to the windows to help you lift them and keep them stationary.

Can you just replace the window sash?

This greatly depends on the damage that your window sash has. For example, if your sash window simply has a broken pane of glass, you can just replace that pane of glass. If the window sash has localised wood damage, replacing the sash could solve this issue too.

However, it is almost impossible for us to say without our experts coming and looking at your window sashes. Damage to window sashes is rarely localised unless it is just a broken pane. If you aren’t sure about the restoration work your sash windows need, call Chameleon. We’re always happy to help; check our before and after page.

replace sash window
repaired sash window

What does a sash window look like?

A window sash comprises small panes of glass divided by glazing bars. The window sashes (the part where these panes of glass are) are split into two, and they have a slight offset so that the window can be opened. Window sashes have different amounts of smaller panes of glass in them depending on which era they were made in or which era they are copying.

Most window sashes are singled glazed, but double-glazed examples do exist. Chameleon is an expert in double glazing hung sash windows and keeping the original style.

sash window look like
Sash window painting

What does sash mean?

When sash windows were first introduced into England from France, ‘sash’ was simply the term coined by joiners for the window section of this new type of window.

There was the ‘sash’ and the ‘window frame’ back then. Nowadays, ‘sash’ represents the entire window style and means any window that doesn’t open on a hinge but instead uses counterweights in the window frame and has offset panes of glass to allow the window to open vertically or horizontally.

What are the different parts of a sash window called?

The window frame – the part that attaches the window to your home, provides vertical grooves for the window to slide in and hides the counterweights.

Sash – the moveable part with the glass and the glazing bars. Some include double glazing; others are single glazed.

Counterbalance weights and sash cord – hidden in the frame out of sight, but a much-needed part of the window

Hardware – latches etc.


How do sash windows work?

Sash windows work by using counterweights hidden in the frame. The two sashes run in vertical grooves and are connected to the weights by cords. As you lift the window up or down, the weights move with the window. When you reach the desired height of the window, the weights will hold the window in position. The two sashes of the window are offset just enough to allow this movement without letting too much cold air in.

What is an open sash?

This refers to how the window sashes open. The sashes of a window can be opened from the top or the bottom. So, you can grab the bottom pane and pull it up, or the top pane and pull it down. Occasionally, though, throughout history, window sashes have been restricted in one direction. However, the more common type is known as ‘open’ sash windows.

Do all sash windows open top and bottom?

Commonly, most window sashes do open top and bottom. Some styles of sash windows only open one way or the other, and other styles open both ways. There are even some examples of sash windows that open horizontally. These windows were made at a time when local joiners would often be called in to do the work. This means that the windows were greatly influenced by the skill of the local joiners, along with the window design in the area and how much money the property owner of the time had to spend.


What is the difference between sash and casement windows?

Now you know what a sash window is, you may be wondering what a casement window is. A casement window uses hinges instead of a sliding action to open. So, modern style windows are casement windows. It is simply that the term ‘casement’ has fallen out of favour in the modern-day. Casement windows can open fully, and as the lock is hidden in the window frame, they are harder for someone to force open.

sash window type
casement window type

We hope this article’s information about sash windows has helped you understand what a sash window is a bit more clearly. If you have sash windows in and they need restoration, get in touch.

We can completely transform rotten, old sash windows into the best in the area.

We can also double glaze existing sash windows and a great deal more. So, if your property has sash windows and you’d like expert restoration, give Chameleon Decorators and Restorers a call today. We undertake most sash window repairs and restoration work, even the work that other window companies say is impossible.

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