Uncovering the truth about wood windows

Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), addresses some of the most common myths and misconceptions about wood windows.

Wood is the world’s oldest and most traditional building material. It adds charm and character to any property and, due to advancements in technology and manufacturing, it can also be incredibly durable and require low maintenance. However, a number of misconceptions still exist when it comes to wood window frames. For homeowners looking to replace their windows, it’s important to be fully informed before selecting a product so that they make the right choice, based on the facts.

Myth #1: They will rot quickly and need replacing

When correctly maintained, wood window frames can last up to 60 years, with certain types of modified wood even boasting a lifespan of 80 years. This is due to major technological advances in the design of wood window frames and their manufacturing processes over the past two decades. When selecting a product there are certain things to look out for to ensure it is going to perform well and look great.

Engineered or modified timber, which is primarily used by British Woodworking Federation (BWF) members in the manufacture of wood window frames, is vital to longevity. It is recommended that homeowners check the durability rating of the timber with their supplier.

When it comes to protective coatings, it is best practice for these to be applied under controlled factory conditions to optimise durability, and we would advise homeowners to ask their window supplier about how they apply coatings and supporting guarantees provided.

Modern wood window frames also incorporate a range of features engineered to improve durability including rounded edges, water shedding angles on horizontal surfaces such as sills and beads, and joint and end grain sealing, all of which should be considered for the best and most durable finish.

Myth #2: They require lots of maintenance

Modern window frames require far less maintenance than is often thought to be the case. In fact, many BWF members offer guarantees of up to 10 years for paint coated products and seven years for wood stained products.

This means that a simple rub down with sandpaper and a refresher coat of paint is often all that is needed within the first decade of the frame being installed. Again, always check with your supplier as to what is required to keep windows in the right condition.

Myth #3: They are expensive

The improved durability of wood window frames means that they can last longer and therefore actually work out less expensive over their lifetime compared to alternatives. Not only can wood window frames have a long service life – often longer than other common window materials – but they can also provide lower whole life costs when maintenance and replacement are factored in.

Wood window frames can also have a positive benefit if you are looking to sell your home in the future. Research has shown that people are willing to pay an average of 11 per cent more for a home with well-maintained period features, of which traditional wood windows can be a key aspect.

Myth #4: They are only for heritage or period homes

The huge variety of wood window frame designs available means that they look great whether in a period or modern home. Wood window frames can also be easily repainted, so the look of a home can be cost effectively transformed to meet the homeowner’s preference throughout the window’s lifespan. Give your supplier as much information as you can about your home and the look you want, to help them give the best advice possible.

Windows are a significant investment for owners of all properties, so it’s important to be aware of common industry myths, seek advice from industry associations and choose an accredited supplier. This will ensure that not only are new wood windows a beautiful addition to a home, but they’ll remain that way for years to come with minimal maintenance.

For more information visit: www.bwf.org.uk