Sash Window Restoration by SPS Windows: A Case Study in perfectionism

February 16, 2013 (PRLEAP.COM) Lifestyle News
SPS Sash Windows has been refurbishing period windows for more than 10 years. The company's founder, Steve Carter, has a genuine passion for their beauty and timeless elegance but says he's often contacted by homeowners who feel they have no option but to go down the replacement route. As he says, "Period sash windows don't actually require a huge amount of upkeep - with the right maintenance they can last for centuries - but to keep them in prime condition they should be professionally treated every 5-8 years." Unfortunately though, many sash windows have been neglected to such a degree that people mistakenly think they're beyond help. In Steve's experience, this is rarely the case.

Late last year Carter was contacted by a couple who'd recently bought a beautiful Edwardian house in the heart of Dulwich Village. It was in a considerable state of disrepair and the windows had fallen victim to decades of weather abuse. The south-facing sashes were particularly neglected and had deteriorated to the point where they were literally falling apart. The owners had received visits from numerous so-called experts who all said the same thing: the damage to the windows was so extensive that the only option was to replace them. It was then that the Dulwich couple came across a recommendation for SPS Windows on a local internet forum.

On inspection of the windows Steve says he knew replacing them would not only be unnecessary, it would also be very costly. Indeed quotes from local joiners had priced replacements at between £20,000 and £28,000. Rafick Ramadan, the owner of the house, remembers feeling incredibly disheartened. "Even though we were told that the new sashes would be identical to the originals, it just didn't feel right tearing out these beautiful - albeit extremely dilapidated - windows. They were an essential part of the house's history. So when Steve came along and said he could salvage them, for a fraction of the price of replacing them, I was naturally delighted."

Steve and his team pulled out all the stops, spending weeks expertly treating the windows. Despite their poor condition, the only part that was rotten and therefore beyond repair was a single cill. This was raked out and replaced. When the windows were dismantled and pared back to bare wood, it was plain to see that they were still as solid as the day they were made. Underneath the many layers of flaking paint, the wood was in perfect condition. Steve says "Sash windows were made to last. People just can't see beyond the failed putty, wet rot, sticking and draughts. There are many solutions out there and here at SPS we will always strive to restore rather than replace. Not only can we reinstate a window's original beauty, we can actually make it function even better than it did when it was first put in. Draught proofing is a one-off treatment that pays dividends for the rest of the window's life span. It stops rattles and draughts and dramatically reduces heat loss. As well as saving on fuel bills, future maintenance will also be less expensive. And the best thing of all, there's absolutely no change to the window's outward appearance."

Professional refurbishment is a painstaking process. Everything is removed, repaired where necessary and re-fitted. From weights to parting beads to pulley wheels, nothing is overlooked. In the case of the Dulwich Village project, the SPS team replaced broken panes, rebalanced the lead weights and re-roped and re-shaped the sashes to ensure they slotted seamlessly into their box frames. After that they were fitted with discreet brush pile draught proofing rods and then meticulously painted internally and externally numerous times over. "The preparation and labour that goes into restoring each sash cannot be overestimated," concludes Steve, "but the end result is well worth it. These windows, if treated to a coat of paint every now and then to keep out the weather, will easily last another 100 years. You can't say fairer than that."