Sash windows, with their distinctive sliding design, have graced buildings for centuries. From historic manors to modern homes, these windows combine striking aesthetics with practical functionality, and they have become ubiquitous on UK streets, especially in London. They transformed the appearance of British property and went through a series of iterations during the Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian eras.

The History of Sash Windows

The origins of the vertical sliding sash window remain a topic of speculation and debate. While some attribute its design to Holland in the late 17th century, others believe it has French origins due to the word “sash” being derived from the French term “chassis.” The earliest recorded mention of a sash window dates to 1589, describing windows with “levys goynge up and downe.”

Thomas Kinward, master joiner under Sir Christopher Wren, documented one of the earliest fully developed counterbalanced sash windows at Whitehall Palace around 1669. With royal endorsement, wooden sash windows became a status symbol across Britain and its colonies. Notable examples include Chatsworth House, Kensington Palace, and Hampton Court Palace. Their symmetrical design complements the Georgian era, Victorian era, New England-style homes, Edwardian sash windows and even new build homes. Sash windows exude elegance and character, making them a favourite in period properties. With the advancement in modern materials came the traditional look without any of the cons of timber.

Double glazed sliding sash windows

Benefits of Sash Windows


Tall sash windows allowed substantial daylight into interiors, transforming living spaces. Their elongated shape allows for larger glass panes, maximising the entry of sunlight. Double-hung sash windows consist of two movable sashes and some double-hung sash windows feature hinged sashes, further simplifying cleaning to the middle of the window by allowing access to both sides of the window from indoors.

Maximise natural light

By adjusting both the top and bottom sashes, homeowners can control ventilation and light. Lowering the top sash allows warm air to escape while raising the bottom sash brings in fresh air and light. These divided panes create an elegant pattern while allowing light to filter through. The slim timber effect frames minimise obstruction, ensuring more glass surface area. This flexibility lets occupants adjust the amount of light entering the room. Whether fully open or slightly ajar, sash windows maintain a balanced appearance. Double or triple glazing reduces heat loss while still allowing ample sunlight.

Highly secure and energy-efficient

Modern sash windows come fully equipped with highly secure mechanisms, offering peace of mind to homeowners. With an A++ energy rating and impressive low U-values, they excel in thermal retention, helping to reduce energy bills. Compared to other window styles, their unique design allows sashes to open cooling your room quickly and efficiently, especially in warmer months. Letting a good breeze pass through your home is incredibly important when household air pollution causes an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year (via the World Health Organisation), and sash windows can also be a wise choice for emergency safety. In the tragic event of a housefire, a moveable upper and lower sash window provides an easy escape that could even save your life.

Arched sliding sash window

Modern adaptations of sash windows

While timber remains a classic option, there are modern materials available for sash windows such as uPVC, aluminium, and timber effect that offer better durability. Modern sash windows retain the traditional look but also benefit from advanced materials which include improved pulley systems and balance mechanisms making their operation smoother. Additionally, modern hardware provides better security and ease of use for homeowners. There are various glazing options to choose from, including obscured glass for privacy. Custom finishes are available for personalisation. Modern sash windows can incorporate acoustic glazing, reducing external noise, and come in a wide range of colours, making them ideal for homes located near busy roads or in urban areas.

Sliding Sash Window

Are sash windows low maintenance?

Modern sash windows are easier to maintain and keep clean compared to traditional timber windows. A simple wipe with soapy water is enough to maintain their appearance. Unlike timber windows, modern sash windows made from durable materials such as uPVC, aluminium or timber effect don’t require frequent sanding or repainting. This saves time, effort, and the cost of hiring professionals for regular maintenance. High-quality uPVC sash windows are weatherproof, resistant to rot, warping, and decay, and withstand harsh elements without deteriorating, reducing the need for ongoing repairs. Plus, with proper care, modern sash windows have a long-life expectancy and can last for decades without significant maintenance.

Sash windows are a popular choice for traditional homes. They are available in many different colours and finishes, including a photo-effect “wood” finish. uPVC frames are a cheaper alternative to timber, costing around 40% less. Timber effect sash windows are becoming increasingly popular due to their traditional look and modern material benefits. They require less future maintenance, reducing all the cons of timber sash box frames. These windows retain the classic look of wood stains on the inside, while the outside is extremely low maintenance, able to withstand all weather conditions. Modern sash windows incorporate double glazing, which enhances insulation, reduces heat loss, and comes in all sash window styles and widths. Draught-proofing techniques can further improve energy efficiency, even in conservation areas. Vinyl sashes and movable panels with spiral balances incorporate Georgian and Victorian buildings, making them a great option for any traditional home.

Why choose sash windows?

Traditionally styled sash windows continue to captivate homeowners, architects, and listed buildings alike. Their timeless elegance, combined with practical features, ensures they remain a cherished architectural element in both historic and contemporary buildings. Improving ventilation, enhanced insulation, increased security, and a high aesthetic appeal. Whether you’re restoring a period property or installing new sash windows, their enduring and timeless appeal is undeniable.

Why choose Emerald for your next home improvement project?

With years of experience transforming properties in Swindon and beyond, we pride ourselves on providing homeowners with quality installations, exceptional customer service, and competitive pricing. For more information on how we can help with your next home improvement project, contact our team of experts for a free quote. You can also visit our double glazing showroom to browse our extensive product range for yourself.

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New uPVC windows transform Swindon home’s energy efficiency

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Emerald provide and install home improvements in all materials – uPVC, aluminium and traditional timber. No matter what material you choose, you can be sure we’ll provide you consistent quality – our work is always finished to the highest standards, whether you’re installing 2 windows or 20!

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