Whether you are building or renovating your home, the windows you opt for can be one of the most attractive features – even replacing outdated ones with beautiful new designs can add a significant new look to your house, inside and out.
Not only are windows practical, allowing in natural light and ventilation, but they are also prime focal pieces of beauty, and this is especially true of windows with wooden frames. But apart from choosing them for their good looks, it is also vital that your windows pair well with your house’s architectural style.
Wooden windows are generally divided into six main categories:
Sliding sash windows:
Made from one or more movable panels or “sashes” that form a frame to hold panes of glass.
Mock sash windows:
Although similar to sliding sash windows, they do not open by the panels sliding down vertically. Instead one of the glazed panels, usually the top panel, is top-hung and swings open from the bottom of the panel.
Horizontal gliding windows:
These types are ideal for bringing the outdoors in, opening interiors to the beauty of an outdoor garden/scenery view. With its sliding mechanism, the window will always glide open as smoothly as it closes.
Full pane windows:
Often referred to vertical skylights, full pane windows comprise a window where the entire glazed area is made up with one sheet of glass, surrounded by a plain wooden frame. Because of this design, these windows offer the most uninterrupted views to the outdoors and offer the maximum amount of light.
Small pane windows:
Often referred to as cottage pane windows, the glazed portion of small pane windows are divided up into smaller panes within the main window frame. These divided light portions add a certain elegance to any room these windows are installed into.
Top hung windows:
Also known as awning windows, these styles are designed to open from the bottom, allowing the air to circulate freely while providing protection from the elements.
Homeowners usually don’t just spend their money on wooden windows for their good looks – they also take the advantages into consideration.
· Aesthetics: Natural materials present a unique beauty, which is why most window frames attempt to copy the look of wood.
· Insulation: Wood is a bad conductor of heat, making them perfect for insulation. In fact, wood provides 400 times more insulation than steel and 1,800 times more than aluminum-framed windows.
· Longer lifespan: With the proper care, high-quality wood will last a lifetime. Wood also isn’t prone to rust, making them more ideal for locations with high humidity levels.
· Coefficient of expansion: Wood has the smallest coefficient of expansion than any other window material, ensuring wooden windows are stable and immobile. You also get to choose from a variety of designs to suit your house’s style.
· The need for paint: Wood was once part of a living organism, and it needs to undergo treatment to avoid rotting. Untreated window frames can swell from moisture, especially when located near the sea.
· Insects: Probably wood’s worst enemy, especially termites. But painting your wooden windows will cancel out both humidity and insects.
· High costs: Wooden windows have the highest initial cost of any other material used in window production. A tight budget is usually the only reason for not choosing wood.
In South Africa, a number of different woods are used to make doors and windows. Although the types of wood that can be used for internal joinery are vast, fewer options are suitable externally to withstand our aggressive climate. Some of the better woods for external use are:
· African mahogany
· African Padauk
· Burmese teak.
What to look out for:
· Wipe down your wooden window frames regularly with a dry paintbrush to inspect for damage and also clean the surface.
· Check for signs of moisture damage or rot, indicating if the sealer coat has failed and requires replacing. A sealer or preservative needs to be applied regularly and in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended guidelines (normally every 12 to 18 months, depending on the product).
· If wood starts cracking, it indicates that the timber is drying out due to lack of protection and constant exposure to UV rays.
· While inspecting the outer frame of a window, take a closer look at the beading that holds glass panes in place. Any loose beading will result in lack of insulation inside a home.
Fixing those problems:
· Where a sealer coat has not been applied, has degraded or failed, apply an exterior sealer or wood preservative.
· Where rot or mould is spotted, wipe the surface with fine steel wool and mineral turpentine to assess the damage – it might be necessary to remove severely damaged wood with a wood chisel and fill this in with an epoxy wood putty before applying exterior sealer or wood preservative.
· Smaller cracks will require a light sanding with 180-grit sandpaper before applying sealer or wood preservative. Usually the sealer or preservative will be absorbed into the timber, fixing the problem.
Traditionally, cooler temperatures are more ideal for wooden windows, as there’s less risk of the timber swelling or shrinking. However, another fantastic benefit of wood is that it can be altered to suit a specific climate; for example, it can be kiln-dried to ensure that it boasts an 8% moisture content, which is the most suitable for the South African climate.