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Sash Windows

Exceptionally wide sash window (approximately 2 m wide)

A sash window or hung sash window is made of one or more movable panels, or "sashes", that form a frame to hold panes of glass, which are often separated from other panes (or "lights") by glazing bars, also known as muntins in the US (moulded strips of wood). Although any window with this style of glazing is technically a sash, the term is used almost exclusively to refer to windows where the glazed panels are opened by sliding vertically, or horizontally in a style known as a "Yorkshire light", sliding sash, or sash and case (so called because the weights are concealed in a box case).

The oldest surviving examples of sash windows were installed in England in the 1670s, for example at Ham House. The invention of the sash window is sometimes credited, without conclusive evidence, to Robert Hooke. Others see the sash window as a Dutch invention.

The sash window is often found in Georgian and Victorian houses, and the classic arrangement has three panes across by two up on each of two sash, giving a six over six panel window, although this is by no means a fixed rule. Innumerable late Victorian and Edwardian suburban houses were built in England using standard sash window units approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) in width, but older, hand-made units could be of any size.

Mechanism and application

To facilitate operation, the weight of the glazed panel is usually balanced by a heavy steel, lead, or cast-iron sash weight or counter-weight concealed within the window frame. The sash weight is connected to the window by a braided cotton sash cord, or a chain, that runs over a pulley at the top of the frame, although spring balances are sometimes used. Repairing a broken cord requires disassembling parts of the window frame.

Issues

Traditional problems with solid wooden sash windows include rot, swelling or distortion of the woodwork or rattling in the wind (due to shrinkage of the wood). These problems can be solved by careful repair and the introduction of draught stripping. It is also a common problem for painters to paint the sash stuck. The sliding mechanism makes sash windows more vulnerable to these problems than traditional casement windows. Sash windows are relatively high maintenance, but offer advantages in return (style, aesthetics, abides by laws (relating to older houses and buildings), natural resources etc.). However, well-maintained sash windows should last generations without needing parts replaced. It is also possible to clean all the glass from within the building by sliding the two panes to different positions.

 

 

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20 May 2019

References

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