Looking into timber

Richard Dollar from The Sash Window Workshop discusses what self-builders should consider when choosing wooden framed windows for their home, in order to ensure that the windows not only look right, but also help make it more comfortable to live in

Installing the wrong windows can leave your home feeling cold and ruin the property’s aesthetics, reducing its value.

It is important to check the quality of the material being used for your windows as this will have a big effect on their longevity and performance.

There is a misconception that timber windows are cold or need a lot of maintenance. For good quality timber windows, this simply isn’t true. Don’t be misled into thinking that timber windows can’t offer the same or better benefits as other materials.

Make sure that the timber you choose is stable and durable. Although it may be more costly upfront, this will help reduce problems in the future and often save you money in the long term. One popular choice is Accoya, which is a sustainably sourced wood known for its stability and durability and which comes with a 50-year anti-rot guarantee. Accoya also requires minimal maintenance.


The most common styles of windows in the UK are sliding sash windows or casement windows. The style of window you choose should depend on the aesthetic look of the property. This is an important decision as the wrong window can result in your home standing out for all the wrong reasons and can drastically reduce the value of your property.

If you are building an extension, consider having the same style windows in both the new and existing sections of your property for a cohesive finish. If you are building a completely new home, you may find it useful to see what other nearby properties have done.

If your home is a completely different design to the surrounding properties, ask a specialist window company to suggest some different designs and see which you prefer.


When choosing the type of glass for your windows you will want to consider carefully what you are looking to achieve, for example the thermal, acoustic, and aesthetic requirements. There are lots of different glass options to choose from, covering a wide range of applications. Don’t be misled into having standard types of glass if there is something special that needs to be achieved.

For example, did you know that simply replacing single glazing with double glazing doesn’t necessarily reduce noise? If you are concerned about noise coming into your home, acoustic glass is the
best option.

Also, remember that there are legal requirements with regards to safety glass that need to be met for windows and doors.


It is important to check that your new windows will come fully factory finished, with multiple coats of paint (or waxed or stained if you prefer). This means that you won’t need to source a decorator to finish your new windows before they can be installed.

It is worth noting that the type of finish you choose will make a difference to how often the windows need to be mainwindow ained going forwards. Darker finishes often need more regular painting. The level of exposure and climate will also affect this.

Most ironmongery generally comes in three finishes: brass, polished chrome or brushed chrome. The ironmongery you go for is generally down to personal preference. However, it is worth noting that not all ironmongery will fit all types of windows, so it is important that you first speak to the company who is quoting if you would like to install any bespoke ironmongery.


Check whether the timber is sustainably sourced. To do this, look out for companies using timber that is FSC certified. According to Heriot Watt University, sustainably sourced timber windows are a lot better for the environment, saving around 160 kg of carbon dioxide per window compared to plastic windows.

Using timber sourced from sustainable forests is a proven way to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is because timber stores the carbon from the atmosphere and more trees are planted than chopped down.

You can also check any steps that the supplier is taking to reduce their own carbon footprint. An increasing number of companies are now taking steps to assess their own carbon footprint. Any company taking sustainability seriously should be happy to discuss what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint as a business.


It is worth buying from a company that manufactures its own windows in the UK. Ask for a tour of their workshop. This will allow you to see the level of detail and care that goes into manufacturing their windows and allows you to check the quality yourself. It’s one thing for a company to have a good-looking showroom – the important thing is the quality of the windows they manufacture for their customers and a workshop tour will allow you to assess this first-hand.

Richard Dollar is the managing director at The Sash Window Workshop