Content supplied by Certified Installer Network

When it comes to period properties, uPVC double glazing hasn’t always had a good name – ‘plastic’ and ‘period’ have, until fairly recently, remained worlds apart. By finding the right installer, with the right products, it’s now possible to adapt your windows for modern living without jeopardising your home’s period appearance.

Complementing traditional craftsmanship

With several million Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses in Britain and over 9000 conservation areas, we love everything about the history in our homes – from original fireplaces and panelled doors, to ceiling roses and traditional cornicing. Manufacturers of double glazing have recognised the need to offer something extra special to complement period properties and over the last ten years the industry has invested heavily to produce modern windows that closely replicate older styles. New technology is constantly being introduced and windows now combine the latest know-how with traditional craftsmanship. Early generation uPVC products are being phased out in favour of more sympathetic windows which have been designed to closely emulate the appearance and texture of traditional timber.

The result is the best of yesterday’s period aesthetics without compromising the benefits of modern materials – low maintenance, durable, high security and excellent thermal performance. These are words not often associated with period properties; we love our period homes for their classic appearance, original features and their charm and many of us make allowances for them being cold through the winter. Carol and Neil Marshall from Polstead Heath lived for many years with draughts through their window frames before deciding to replace them. They have lived in their period home for 27 years, during which time they have renovated the house from top to bottom. The original windows were single glazed with wooden frames: “The curtains used to be blown around by the draught from the windows and we could hear traffic noise from the road outside,” Carol told us. “When we finally decided to replace all 17 windows at our property, we wanted something in the original Georgian style which looked natural, like real wood. I was initially concerned that plastic might look out of place and be a distraction next to the older materials at our house. I needn’t have worried – I was impressed by the products available to us and after a lot of consideration chose a style of window frame with a woodgrain effect – the windows are incredibly sympathetic to our property.”

Deciding whether to restore or replace

The advice for period homeowners is usually to repair and restore the original windows for as long as possible. If your house has draughty windows, you might be able to work around the problem by insulating the frames with draught strips, installing secondary glazing, mounting shutters or by placing heavy curtains at problematic windows. You could also try insulating floors, roof spaces and solid external walls to eradicate heat loss from other sources. But all of this can be time-consuming, costly and not always effective. If you live in a listed building or even perhaps a conservation area with strict planning criteria, you may have no choice but to keep your old windows. But when windows reach the point they really are beyond repair or are letting down the rest of your home, replacement is often the preferred option for many period homeowners.

Done well, new windows will usually increase your property’s value. But do expect it to be a significant investment and one which will warrant a lot of thought and research into the various options – not just the style of window and the colour of the frame, you will also need to consider things like the type of glass you’d like and the level of security you feel you need.

Finding the right installer

Find a supplier who will guide you through the process and who can give you examples of previous work on traditional homes – members of the Certified Installer Network are well versed with the needs of period properties.  Ultimately, look for someone with a genuine interest in sympathetic replacements who shows sensitivity and understanding about period properties and who describes the ways in which the new windows will not compromise the character and traditional appearance of your home.

Finding the right product

The key to success will be in matching the originals as closely as possible. Look for innovations such as woodgrain white and coloured foils which closely replicate timber frames with superior woodgrain textures in light or dark wood-effect options. Alternatively opt for a classic painted finish in a colour of your choice. Strike a balance between traditional and modern by seeking out installers using top-grade durable uPVC profiles alongside features reminiscent of traditional timber windows to match the original style – leaded patterns, stained glass, gold fretwork, Georgian bar effects, scribed transom & mullion joints, Georgian grille detail and external bars to emulate a traditional putty line effect.  Most manufacturers offer bay windows and uPVC sash windows are becoming increasingly prevalent. Slimmer double-glazed units with differing levels of reflection can help maintain a period look, along with various options around the width of the glazing bar and section sizes to replicate the appearance of original Georgian and Victorian windows.

Ventilation is particularly important in period properties, more so than in modern buildings, to avoid creating humidity and condensation traps which may lead to issues with damp. As windows are the main source of ventilation, look for a style with sufficient ventilation to allow a continual replacement of the air in your home. And don’t forget the furniture – find a supplier offering a range of lockable ironmongery, traditional handles and ornamental peg-stays to complete the period look.

With the latest double glazing installed in your period home, you can expect to transform the appearance, security and comfort of your house. Not only will it be an aesthetic improvement, you can usually expect to:

  • increase thermal efficiency – saving money on heating bills;
  • increase security – resulting in greater reassurance and peace of mind;
  • reduce outside noise;
  • and say goodbye to the high-levels of maintenance and preservation usually associated with wooden frames.

Getting off to a good start

It can be a difficult decision whether or not to replace windows in a period house. Our advice is that each period homeowner should establish what they want to achieve in terms of their lifestyle, budget and priorities – only then can an individual establish the most effective solution for their property.

If you do decide to replace your windows you will potentially be entering a whole new world of decision making. Often the first hurdle to overcome is finding a reliable supplier – a good place to start is the Certified Installer Network, which represents double glazing retailers up and down the country. All members belong to a regulated governing body with skilled installers of all window styles. Read what Carol Marshall has to say about her experience using a member of the Certified Installer Network to transform her period cottage and find your nearest installer to discover what’s possible for your period property.

Our Sponsors