What is a Sash Window?

Sash windows have been around for hundreds of years, and it is almost impossible to walk down a street in the UK without seeing them. There are numerous benefits to installing sash windows, they can pay you back in dividends with lower energy bills, increased curb appeal, and higher property value. Browse our sash window selection.

Although the window’s construction has remained generally the same over the years, technological advances and material improvements have made sash windows better than ever before.

The Definition of a Sash Window

One of the most popular type of window styles in UK homes, sash windows consist of two movable panels called ‘sashes’. The most common is called ‘the sliding sash’ and features two sashes that slide up and down, one in front of the other.

The sash itself is the part of the window that holds the framework around the glass to keep it in place. Windows sashes are important because they add to the overall construction and durability of the window. The strong frame design ensures your window is not only functional but also fully secure.

How Do Sash Windows Work?

Sash windows work on pulley systems. They have two glass panels and you slide one over the other to create an opening in the window. Sliding open sash windows is usually vertical, however some do open by horizontally sliding.

To support the effective opening and closing of sash windows, they are counter balanced with sash weights concealed inside the frame. Using a system of pulleys, the window functions smoothly and easily. Pulleys rarely break because they are made to be durable and are also contained with the window frame. However, if the pulleys do break, fixing them is usually easy, only requiring disassembling part of the window frame.

What’s the Difference Between Single Hung and Double Hung Sash Windows?

The difference is quite simple really: single hung windows only open from the bottom and the top sash stays in place. Whereas with double hung sash windows, both sashes are movable.

Who Invented the Sash Window?

Sash window It is difficult to know who invented the sash window and when. There are so many theories, including some that credit Dutch designers, some English. However, it is a fact that windows were introduced to England for the first time in the late 17th century. The popularity of sash windows would steadily build over the decades and by the Georgian period, they would be the window of choice for most homeowners.

The original hinged design of a casement window, which was previously the most popular window style, was no match for the elegance of the sliding sash window. As a result, the sliding sash would replace the casement for several hundred years, until modern materials secured the popular hinged design of the 20th century. It is for this reason that period properties are often equipped with sash windows and doors.

Sash Window History

Although there are no accurate records telling us when sash windows were first used, there are speculations sashes were first used in France. The reason for this is because the origin of ‘sash’ is ‘chassis’ or ‘frame’ in French. The first sash windows utilised in the UK were believed to be installed after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Wherever they originated from, and whatever the reason, sash windows have become Britain’s go-too window choice. Immensely practical, aesthetically pleasing, and elegant, it’s no surprise that sash windows have remained at the forefront of window design for over 500 years.

Sash Windows in 17th Century London

During the 17th century, windows were perfectly designed for narrow streets, where windows often jutted out, touching the building opposite. It was during this time that a window known as ‘The Yorkshire Sash’ became popular. This window style predates the vertical sliding window and began as a common window choice across the country.

The Great Fire of London 1666 and It’s Affect on Windows

It was after the Great Fire of London in 1666 that sliding sash windows came into full force. New windows with sills were designed to protect homes from future fires and help keep them more secure. It was during this period that many architectural masterpieces were built and sliding sashes came to grace buildings such as Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Greenwich.

How Glass Developments Improved Sash Windows

Many people believe that modernised designs followed the development of glass. The process of developing glass and inserting panels into sash windows has been continuously improving over the last 500 years and this has transformed their design and function.

Sash Windows During the Georgian Period 1714-1811

It was during the Georgian Period that bowed windows were introduced to help bring in more light to the narrow streets. Panes were improved and evenly split to make windows more affordable as large panes of glass were hard to come by and incredibly expensive. So, sash windows with small window panes were common during this period and many homes today still retain their original Georgian architecture and sashes.

The Late Georgian and Regency Period 1811-1830

Vertical sash windowDuring this period, sash windows became increasingly distinctive in their design. While they still retained the multi-panels, designs began to modernise and ornate features, mouldings, and detailing’s became fashionable. Detailed sash windows like this became increasingly fashionable in areas like Brighton and around the Price Regents Royal Pavilion.

Windows in The Victorian Era 1830-1901

The Victorian Period was famous for the industrial revolution and, as such, this period brought with it significant developments in window design and glass technology. Cylinder glass plates were developed in 1834 and became popular in homes across English towns and cities from 1850s and onwards. This was a great leap forward in sash window design and installation as it enabled the manufacturing and instalment of larger panes of glass.

Sash Windows During the 1880s

During this period, window design and style became a statement of wealth and glazing bars were removed to improve aesthetics. As such, those who could afford it had their windows upgraded with larger versions To accommodate such heavy panes of glass, the horn was introduced on the upper sashes. It hides a mortise and tenon joint which joins the slots together.

Sash windows are known for their combination of features, most notably the ornate top sash. It was during the Edwardian period that cost of labour grew to make up for the loss of men in the wars that followed. As the years progressed, windows were updated and made more energy efficient and secure as they were updated from single glazed panes to double glazed.

Sash Windows Today

There are many benefits to choosing sash windows for your home, but perhaps the most popular is how their installation can dramatically transform the way a property looks. The stunning design is just as impressive as it was hundreds of years ago, except that with the help of modern materials it is more effective, safe, and secure than ever before.

Discover the benefits of our sash windows for yourself.

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