26th January 2018

Blog: Timber Windows

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Posted by: Carly

Very simply put, if you look after timber, or wood, it will last for centuries. One only has to visit some of the stately homes, listed buildings and old houses to find the evidence! So why has timber and timber windows come in for such bad press, and what is the reality today?

Before we look at this directly, let’s just have a little look at some basic wood technology.

Wood is a ‘hygroscopic’ material which means that it absorbs and loses moisture according to its surroundings. If wood is kept in dry conditions, it stays dry. If wood is kept wet, it will absorb the water – and herein lies the problem.

The other little factoid that we need to know is that the fungi that eats the wood and causes the rot, only likes wood that has a moisture content over 25%. In normal conditions in the UK, if a piece of wood is left outside and is not in contact with the ground it will reach maybe 20% moisture content.

So why have our timber windows been rotting I hear you ask, and what’s changed?

I guess the first problem is that we went from beautifully made joinery products made by craftsmen who really understood timber as part of their craft, to mass produced products made in factories where cost took priority over quality control.

The second problem is to do with the paint finishes and the maintenance thereof.

Older timber windows and doors that are still in good condition today were made by craftsmen with high quality timber, selected for straightness of grain and, for longer sections, radially cut, both of which give a relatively stable piece of timber. The mass-produced timber windows and doors abandoned these two woodworking principles, to their eventual cost.

Secondly, oil-based gloss paints which provide a non-flexible coating over the wood to protect it were used. This as a treatment on stable sections of timber was ok, the problem comes when the wood moves because it’s been allowed to absorb too much water. The paint cracks, more water is allowed in and over a few years the wood under the crack becomes attractive to fungi and the rot sets in.

So, what’s changed?

Two very fundamental things.

  1. Modern adhesives when used to join two pieces of wood together actually produce a joint that is stronger than the timber it is bonding. If you try to break the joint then the wood fibres around the joint will rupture before the actual joint. This allows us to bond two or three pieces of thinner wood to make a section that is very stable.
  2. Microporous paint is flexible, water based and allows the wood to breath. The wood can expand and contract on a micro level with the seasons, but the paint will not crack. No cracking = no water ingress = no rotting!

A modern factory-finished engineered timber window is the best investment you can make when choosing new windows for your home. An engineered timber window will have a working life of 60 years.

Choosing timber for your windows gives you so many options. Round windows, oval windows, pentagons, hexagons, all possible with timber. It is the same with timber doors. They can be designed to your requirements because timber allows us that flexibility.

European Redwood is a softwood and grown more slowly and therefore is denser and therefore more durable and stable. Meranti Hardwood or Oak are also available.

If you’d like to speak to one of our Timber Windows Specialists, please contact us or request a quote.

You may also be interested in reading the following blogs:
What is the Difference between Solid Timber and Engineered Timber?
What is the Benefit of a Factory Finished Timber Window?
Timber Bi-Folds

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