What Are the Pros and Cons of Aluminium Sash Windows?
Whether you own a period property or are a fan of Georgian and Victorian architecture, then sash windows are an ideal window design choice for your home. What’s even better is blending this traditional design with modern materials; aluminium sash windows make for an excellent window and frame combination that offers both strength and elegance.
In this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know regarding aluminium sash windows, including what’s significant about their design, why aluminium is a good material choice and their pros and cons in comparison to other window types.
What Are Sash Windows?
Whilst the definitive origins of sash windows are unknown (there is speculation over who invented them and where), the height of their popularity in the UK was between the Georgian and Victorian periods. They are characterised by two ‘sashes’ (hence its name), which are window frames that move either horizontally or vertically in a sliding motion, rather than opening on a hinge.
These sashes fit one in front of the other into the entire frame of the window, and often both sashes can be opened with one moving upwards and the other moving down. Whilst it’s possible to have horizontally sliding sash windows, most will typically open vertically.
In order to do so, they sit in vertical grooves that allow them to move without causing friction against the other frame, whilst weights connected with a cord are used to counterbalance this movement and allow you to open the window however much or little as you like whilst staying perfectly in place - these are typically hidden within the frame.
Traditionally, sash windows would be made with a single pane of glass, however double glazing is, of course, the norm of most modern windows. As such, modern sash windows tend to use an ultra thin double glazing installation (such as vacuum glazing) with glazing bars placed on the outside of the window to give the illusion of a single paned window, whilst allowing you to still benefit from the insulating properties of double glazing.
From Aluminium Sliding Doors to Window Frames: Why Aluminium?
When you think of the applications of aluminium as a building material, it’s highly likely that your mind goes to industrial structures and commercial buildings, such as warehouses, shop security fronts or garage doors. We appreciate that you probably don't associate aluminium as a primary material used for window frames.
However, we think it’s time to change that association. Aluminium makes for an excellent window frame material for numerous reasons.
Firstly, it is considerably more resistant to the outside elements than other materials, such as wood or uPVC, making it much less likely to warp, discolour or rot. This makes aluminium window frames incredibly long-lasting.
Next, it is also an incredibly strong material with a high strength-to-weight ratio; as such, it is much harder to dent and offers more security to your property. Furthermore, this allows you to have much thinner window frames without compromising on strength, giving an unassuming, sleek and modern appearance that compliments the overall aesthetic of your property.
Aluminium Sash Windows vs Other Materials and Designs
Sash windows are a highly popular window design due to their aesthetically appealing appearance. Whether you’re looking to add a traditional touch to a contemporary home or find a window style that fits in with your home’s existing architecture, sash windows are one of the most appreciated heritage styles and can even add to the value of your property.
On top of this, using an aluminium frame is a great way to bridge the gap between this traditional window style and contemporary architecture.
With the popularity of period dramas on television and streaming platforms, along with the ‘cottage core’ aesthetic on social media platforms such as Pinterest and TikTok, the appearance of old country-style homes and cottages that feature sash windows have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years.
Appropriate for Period Properties
When it comes to renovating or repairing period properties, certain modern architectural design features may look out of place, whilst certain heritage properties are limited in the features that are even allowed to be installed.
Rather than a modern casement or awning window, both of which open on a hinge, sash windows look much less out of place when used in period properties, since they better match the architecture and style of the time period that these houses were built in, enhancing the overall aesthetic.
In conservation areas where there are heritage properties and listed buildings, it may also be a requirement that sash windows are used, since renovation works often stipulate that architectural features, such as windows, must be designed to look as close as possible to the units the original building would have had.
Strength and Durability
Aluminium sash windows are a highly secure and durable window choice. Firstly, using aluminium for the frame reduces the need for maintenance and ensures the longevity of your windows. Aluminium is extremely strong and durable, making it much more resistant to dents and scratches, as well as offering better security from potential property damage and intruders.
On top of this, they are better resistant to weathering damage, not sustaining damage caused by rain, wind or ultraviolet light, meaning aluminium sash windows won’t be subject to discolouring, warping or rotting unlike wooden frames, which are another popular alternative material for sash window frames.
It’s also relatively easy to incorporate extra safety locks and devices to sash windows, allowing them to be opened slightly and locked into place - beneficial for both keeping children and pets in and intruders out whilst allowing air to still flow into your home.
Great in Hot Weather
Sash windows are actually the best window type for ventilation. Because both the top and bottom sash can be opened, they are great for promoting convection and ventilation. This is because warm air can escape from higher levels out the opened top sash, whilst cooler air is drawn into the room from the opened lower sash, dropping to the floor and pushing more air to the ceiling, thus repeating the process and inviting cooler air into the room at a faster rate.
As well as promoting fresh, clean air in your home all year round, this is especially useful at keeping your home cool in periods of hot weather.
High Initial Cost
Compared to uPVC windows, which is the most popular material used for the majority of new window frames in the UK, aluminium window frames tend to have a high cost to install, due to the sourcing and production of this material being more expensive. Sash windows also have the potential to be more expensive than other window styles due to their sliding mechanism.
However, despite this higher initial installation cost, they can still work out as more cost efficient in the long run, since their longevity and durability reduces the likelihood of maintenance being needed and the costs associated with this.
In comparison with timber sash windows, they are more cost efficient still, since timber frames tend to be some of the most expensive and require the most maintenance and repairs over time.
Not Always Suitable for Homes in Coastal Areas
Whilst aluminium is incredibly durable and withstands most types of weathering, it is prone to corrosion. This is what occurs when metal, such as aluminium, is exposed to salt in the air or water. In areas by the coast, homes are exposed to much more salt due to their proximity to the sea and exposure to sea mist.
This means aluminium sash windows may corrode quicker when used on homes by the coast than they would when used on homes inland.
Potential for Condensation in Colder Months
Whilst sash windows are great for ventilation in the warmer months, they can have the potential to encourage condensation in the colder months. This is down to two particular reasons. The first is whether or not your sash windows are single pane or double glazed.
Whilst ultra thin double glazing is used with most modern sash windows, if you have a listed building then you may be limited to only using single pane sash windows due to conservation reasons. The issue with this is that single pane windows don’t warm up with the room temperature and instead stay almost as cold as outside, with this temperature difference leading to condensation.
The other cause of condensation could be on the actual frame itself; due to aluminium being a metal, it conducts heat differently to other commonly used materials. The way it conducts heat means it will stay cold to the touch in lower temperatures, meaning condensation is also more likely. Although, modern aluminium frames are often made with built-in thermal breaks to keep them better insulated and reduce the chances of condensation occurring.
Double Glazed Window and Door Solutions
Whilst aluminium sash windows have their disadvantages, their benefits certainly outweigh them when comparing the two, making these an excellent window choice for an array of modern properties. If you think they’d look great in your home, then look to us here at True Window & Glass Centre to get them installed.
Specialising in glazed windows and doors for both domestic and commercial properties, we also offer an array of other window designs if you have an alternative preference, as well as a range of doors, including french, patio and concertina doors.
For more information regarding our products and services, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today and together we’ll find the right solution to suit your needs.