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What Is a Window Sash? Advantages, Disadvantages, Types & FAQ

wedding dress on bay sash windows

Incorporating a window sash is very important when building the windows in your home. It holds the glass and window framework around it, keeping it in place. Usually, window sashes are part of the window frame, and depending on the design, they may or may not be movable.

If you are not familiar with this window function, don’t worry. This post will discuss what it is, where it is usually placed, its advantages and disadvantages, and the various types of window sashes. This information may come in handy when the time to build, repair, or update them comes.

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How Does a Window Sash Work?

Window sashes, also called box sashes, allow you to push the window up and down when closing it. Typically, window sashes come with two sliding sections, referred to as sashes. In addition, they have pulleys and weight functions that allow them to slide up and down smoothly.

When you open a window sash by pulling it up, the weight counters with a weight placed inside the window frame for balance. The weight also serves to connect the opened sash through a cord that runs over the pulley set at the top of the window frame. This mechanism is known as the cord, weight, and pulley mechanism.

Most window sashes are designed to make them aesthetically pleasing, which means that the mechanism is hidden from sight. The sash cord is usually positioned under the window frame to conceal it. At the same time, the counterweight, made of lead and iron, is typically connected to the window by a hidden cord.

On the other hand, modern window sashes use a loaded spring mechanism instead of the typical weight and cord mechanism. The spring losses or tightens whenever you slide the window sash open. It works by creating tension that creates a counter force.

wedding dress on bay sash windows
Image Credit: Jeremy Wong Weddings, Unsplash

Components of a Window Sash

To better understand how a window sash works, it’s essential to know all its components, where to find them, and how they work.

1. Lead weights

They come in a pair to create a balance when sliding the window sash. They hang on the sash cord and are usually hidden from sight for aesthetic purposes.

2. Weight pockets

The weight pockets are made from timber lining and are placed on both sides of the window. The two lead weights are positioned in these weight pockets.

3. Sash cord

The purpose of the sash cord is to hold the lead weights into position. It runs through the pulley system allowing it to maintain the weights properly.

4. Pulley wheel

It allows the sash cord to pass above it and creates balance.

5. Parting bead

This holds the upper sash in place while also creating functional paths for the sash to run through.

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Different Types of Window Sashes

There are traditional and modern window sashes, which come in different types. They differ in cost, aesthetics, and functionality. Some types of window sashes are:

1. Venetian Sash

The Venetian sash is a triple sliding box sash window with two fixed outer panes and the center sash slide that slides open. This window sash type is a traditional type that was popular 100 years ago and primarily used in terraced windows.

The lead weights are in the typical outer weight boxes made of timber filling, which allows them to move smoothly and retain the narrow aesthetics. One of its distinguishing properties is that the sash cord on this design can be a metallic chain or tension cord.

2. Traditional Sliding Sash

sash window
Image Credit: PxHere

The traditional sliding sash was first invented in London during the 17th century. Its purpose was to transform British architecture through the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Its proportions are elegant and slim, which makes them both beautiful and efficient.

Traditional sash windows require more maintenance than other types of windows. They are prone to rot, swelling, warping, and rattling in the wind due to timber shrinkage. Their sliding mechanism also makes them more vulnerable compared to their traditional casement counterparts, making them more expensive in the long run.

3. Georgian Sash Windows

georgian sash window
Image Credit: Derick McKinney, Unsplash

Georgian sash windows are one of the oldest varieties and are still in use. They are elegant, and people mainly incorporate them in their homes to evoke the style of this era. The distinctive six-panel grid design on the top and bottom of the sashes helps them achieve this look.

It is also one of the most extensive window sash designs since Georgian architecture demanded large windows to let in enough light. The design is charming, authentic, and distinctive. These windows also require plenty of maintenance to look their best since they are at the mercy of the elements.

4. Victorian Sash Windows

victorian sash windows
Image Credit: Erol Ahmed, Unsplash

Victorian Window sashes tend to have a run-through sash horn, the first window sash to incorporate this. They also tend to favor rose design which is easy to replicate by fixing a single astragal bar on a piece of glazing.

Since these windows were used in Victorian buildings, they are more lavish than all other window designs. The sash horns on these windows were added to offer additional support to the larger and heavier panes used. They also provide a lot of extra additional light while offering an additional degree of authenticity.

5. Edwardian Sash Windows

Edwardian Sash Window on a black building
Image Credit: Jelle van Leest, Unsplash

Edwardian sash windows were built and installed into buildings at the start of the twentieth century. They were elegant and in style at the time, which made them increasingly popular. Like the Georgian sash windows, this design favored the six panes over the two panes design.

The large window panes allow extra light into the house while giving it a classic aesthetic at the same time. However, they require additional support since they tend to be heavy, requiring the use of sash horns.

6. Yorkshire Sliding Sash Windows

As the name suggests, Yorkshire sash windows originated from Yorkshire. These sash windows are often wooden and custom designed to replicate and mimic the appearance of the original Yorkshire windows.

They are usually expensive since they are made from high-quality hardwood and require excellent craftsmanship. The mechanism includes concealed rollers, sash fasteners, and sash stops, improving their security and efficiency.

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Where Do Window Sashes Work Best?

Window sashes are very important when constructing a window. Ideally, they should be multi-chambered, fashion-wielded, and reinforced to ensure they don’t distort and warp over time. Structural reinforcement of the window sash also ensures it won’t sag or bow.

Sash windows are perfect for homes in conservative areas, especially if they are supposed to look as close to the old building in the area as possible. Also, suppose you buy a house in a conservative place with a window sash; you are expected to repair it when it gets spoiled instead of replacing it with another window type.

Also, if you want adequate ventilation in your house, consider adding dual window sashes. They can open at the top and bottom, which provides the house with good ventilation. The convention flow cools the house better than other window types, especially during summer.

red sash window
Image Credit: Mari Madriz, Unsplash

Advantages of Window Sashes

Sash windows only come second to casement windows in popularity regarding window varieties. Some of their pros include:

1. They Look Good

When it comes to making your window more aesthetically pleasing, window sashes take the lead. They add a touch of traditional elegance that helps elevate specific properties and add value to the building. Adding window sashes might be a great idea if your windows look bland.

Window sashes are also versatile. You can put them in a traditional home or a modern building, and they’ll still look good.

2. They are Secure

Window sashes increase the safety and security of a home. Since only one window panel can be opened at any given time, it is more challenging to climb through than casement windows.

If you live in an insecure neighborhood or fear people breaking into your home, consider getting window sashes. It also makes it easier to incorporate locks, child locks, and other safety features.

3. They are Low Maintenance

Most window sashes, such as aluminum and uPVC, require minimum or no maintenance. Aluminum window sashes come coated from the factory, while uPVC is naturally white and needs zero interference.

Also, window sashes are not at high risk of warping or rotting since they are mostly made of metal and plastic. This quality makes them an excellent choice for windows that are hard to reach.

4. Durable

Most sash windows are made from solid materials such as aluminum, plastic, or wood. They can last long without damage, making them a worthy and long-term investment.

5. Easier to Clean

Sash windows are easier to clean than casement windows, especially if you have a double-hung sash window. It allows flexibility when cleaning since it opens from the top or bottom.

sash window on a raindy day
Image Credit: Danielle Dolson, Unsplash

Disadvantages of Window Sashes

Despite the several advantages of using window sashes, there are also a few disadvantages. They include:

1. Poor Ventilation

Sash window panels are built in a manner that allows them to slide behind another, like sliding doors. This feature can increase the risk of condensation inside the sliding windows.

Also, insufficient air might come in depending on the size since you can only open one window pane at a time. Therefore, airflow is not as consistent and continuous as in other windows. Sometimes, this makes people go for casement windows instead.

2. Not Energy Efficient

Some cash windows are not energy efficient compared to other window types. They are only energy efficient if they are double-hung and modernized. Otherwise, if they are an older variety, they end up not having any energy-saving capabilities.

3. Not Easy to Install

Only a professional or person with prior experience can correctly install sash windows. Most people struggle to replace window sashes if they break, which can mean higher maintenance and repair fees.

4. They are Expensive

Not everyone can afford to purchase and install sash windows since they are more expensive than other window frames. There are many materials used, all of which come at different costs making the cost vary between one window sash and the other.

5. Don’t Let Much Light Through

Sash windows are very small compared to other window types and may not be enough to bring in adequate light. If your home is a bit dark, the solution might not be window sashes.

multi-grid sash window
Image Credit: Alex Padurariu, Unsplash

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Can You Draught-Proof a Sash Window?

Yes, you can. You can draught-proof each sash window individually. It takes most professionals a day to complete 3 or 4 windows.

What Is the Purpose of a Sash Window Lock?

Typically, a sash window lock is used to prevent intruders from gaining access through the window. The lock is made of metal bars connected to the frame, making it inaccessible from the outside.

What Are the Materials Used to Build Window Sashes?

You can make a window sash from several materials such as aluminum, plastic, and wood. If you choose wood, consider using hardwoods such as oak and paint to reduce the chances of rot.

Can You Repair a Window Sash?

Yes. If the glass on the window sash breaks or the damage is localized, you can replace the window sash only. In more severe cases, you might have to replace the whole window.

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Bottom Line

Not only do window sashes add to the aesthetic beauty of a house, but when installed correctly, they also increase the home’s resale value. They come in various forms, and you can pick the one that best fits your aesthetics and needs. If possible, ensure you get a professional for installation.

The tips in this article should help you decide whether to install one and be prepared for the pros and cons of having one. Window sashes can last far longer with the proper maintenance.

Featured Image Credit: Jeremy Wong Weddings, Unsplash


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