Sash window FAQs

Is the answer to your problem here?

If you haven't found what you are looking for elsewhere on the site, take a browse through this FAQs page - the questions and answers are based on queries I have received.

I have been trying in vain to find a suppler of sash weights. Where can I get them?

All the suppliers I know of are listed in the directory. Other possibilities worth pursuing locally are architectural salvage companies, lead merchants, architectural ironmongers (unlikely, but ask just in case) and scrap merchants just in case they have any they haven't yet sent for smelting. Be cheeky and ask uPVC window companies or their fitting teams if they have removed any recently, and if so what they do with them. Look for old established building firms with untidy yards!

Can you tell me where there is a good company that can fit seven sash windows and not charge the earth to do it?

All the info I have about companies that specialise in sash windows is in the directory - sorry I can't be of more help. It's worth a look through Yellow Pages display ads in the sections listing carpenters and joiners, joinery manufacturers, window installers, manufacturers etc. some mention sash windows work even if they are not specialists. Any good joiner should be able to do such work, though many may not have great deal of experience with them these days. If you do find someone who you feel you could recommend, please let me know, or get them to contact me with a view to getting listed.

The weight mechanism in one of my windows is malfunctioning on one side so I cannot lower the top sash without using excessive force. Should I replace the window?

Please don't replace the window! The commonest "weight mechanism" used in sash-windows is simply a counterbalancing weight suspended on a cord that runs over a pulley. The usual cause of this problem is a broken sash-cord which allows the sash to hang crookedly in the frame. It may also be due to a broken axle-pulley or a weight jammed in the box. Very occasionally weights do get broken, though this is very rare.
There are instructions for replacing the sash-cords on the site, so you shouldn't need to replace the window. If an axle-pulley or weight needs replacing, and you can't get one locally ironmonger there are suppliers listed in the directory.

I have recently had my single-glazed sash window double-glazed but it won't work on the pulley system because the window is now heavier. What can I do about it?

You will need to use weights that are almost double the weight of the originals, but you may find that there isn't enough room in the boxes for them. If your existing weights are cast iron, lead ones of the correct weight may fit. Another alternative is to fit spiral balances
A strictly DIY approach I have used successfully is to fix one sash and double up the weights on the other - it has worked without a hitch for years on the one window I tried it on. I was expecting the weights to jam in the boxes at some point but they never did.

I have a broken cord on one of my windows. Where I can get some new cord?

Any good DIY store, builders merchant or ironmonger should stock sash cord. There are two common sorts of sash-cord polypropylene, or the more traditional waxed cotton-covered jute. For really heavy sashes there is a thicker, heavy duty cord.

What I can do after I have stripped my sashes. Do I need to seal them with something other than paint? Where exactly do I paint and do I wax the place where the sash meets the frame?

Basically if you can see it with the sashes open, or closed, paint it! First of all apply a good wood preservative and let it dry thoroughly, then use a good quality primer and undercoat for maximum weather resistance and finally a good quality topcoat.
Alternatively a microporous paint system can be used - these will let the timber breathe, which helps reduce decay by allowing moisture to permeate out of the wood.
Waxing should not be necessary, but would help stop the newly painted surfaces sticking, however it may cause problems with subsequent painting.

What is the best knot to use to fasten a sash weight to the sash cord so it won't fall off?

A bowline. There's a good web page showing how to tie one on Grog's Animated Knots website. Make the loop a snug fit to the eye of the sashweight rather than letting it hang in a longer loop. With some styles of sash-weight you can tuck the loose end of the knot into the eye to avoid any chance of it catching on anything inside the box.

© 2022 Nick Iredale