What Are Sash Windows?

in Windows

Sash windows are sliding windows, which usually slide vertically, but which can slide horizontally and which are normally in pairs. 

The original design of the sash window is attributed to the English inventor, Robert Hooke (1635 -1703) and these windows were, since the 18th century, a very common type of window, especially in Georgian and Victorian houses. In these residences, the most common sash window used was and is the classical style, that being of two frames, each with six panels. This however, was a style particular to those types of residence and is not a fixed rule - many different styles of sashes survive and are in use today.

Sash windows have an advantage that allows them to be partially opened without the window falling back into the closed position, as would be expected of a heavy vertical frame. This can be achieved in different ways. Earlier types of these windows had ropes and counter weights (or sash weights) that were set into the window frame. More modern types of sash windows use friction tracks to achieve the same result. This is a preferable method in the construction of modern houses with thinner outer walls.

Other types of sashes can have hinges on one side, which, when the counter balance is disconnected on the other side, allows the window to be swung open. This can be used as a safety measure or for cleaning purposes.

In the past the materials used in the construction of these window frames was entirely of timber. With the development of new products, it is quite usual to see metal (particularly aluminium) and uPVC being used. In a further development with regard to the 'evolution' of sashes , many modern windows are double glazed or triple glazed, and there has been a reversion to traditional sash timber windows, which can be painted or stained, according to the owner's wishes.

Sash windows have contributed in a major way to architecture, and the evolution in design of these windows show the changes in architectural and social history over several centuries.

There are window companies which specialise in the restoration of old timber sash windows - some of these older windows can have quite a complicated counter weight system. If at all possible, it is in the future interest of our architectural heritage that every effort be made to retain these fantastic windows for future generations. 

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David Shee has 1 articles online

We have a site dedicated to discussions on all aspects of sash window maintenance and replacement. You are welcome to visit us at http://sashwindowsguide.com.

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This article was published on 2010/03/27