Two Common Timber Sash Window Problems and How to Fix Them

17 June 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Have you taken on an older property with timber sash windows that are sticking or not opening? Would you like to try fixing them yourself before calling in an expert? This guide will walk you through two of the most common causes for sticking windows and solutions you can try yourself.

Swelling Due to Moisture

In a poorly ventilated house with noticeable condensation, your wooden windows may be sticking due to moisture causing the wood to swell. Either the window or the frame may be swollen, and in some cases, it may be both. This should be addressed immediately, as excess moisture can cause the windows to rot.

Ideally, it's best to remove the sash windows from the frame to deal with this problem. However, if this feels a little beyond your skill set, you can leave them in situ and still address the problem.

First, you'll need to strip the wood of all paint. Once stripped, leave the bare wood to dry out. It can take up to a week or two for the wood to dry, depending on the conditions. When thoroughly dried, the window should move smoothly without sticking. At this point, you can repaint the windows using a micro-porous paint or a linseed paint.

If the frame is also swollen, you should treat it the same way -- remove all paint and allow it to dry out thoroughly. It may take longer to dry the frame as it's partially outside. Once completely dried, treat the wood with linseed oil or a water based primer.

To minimise moisture swelling in the future, avoid painting the sides and bottom of the windows. Leaving these unseen areas bare will allow the wood to breathe. This makes it easier for the sash to dry out in the event of it getting wet. Leaving these areas unpainted also reduces the chance of sticking due to paint buildup.

Paint Build Up

If you're unable to open your windows, it may be due to a paint buildup. You should examine the area where the window and frame meet to see if paint has sealed the two together. This is a common problem with sash windows that have been poorly painted.

While it's tempting to get a chisel out to deal with the problem, it's not a good idea. A chisel is likely to be too thick and may cause damage to the wood. If the following suggestions do not remedy the problem with your windows, consult a company that deals with timber sash window repairs. You don't want to cause damage that results in an expensive repair or replacement.

Start by scoring along the area with a sharp Stanley blade to separate the two parts. If the paint is deep and the blade does not work, use a flexible steel scraper and a small hammer to tap it gently into the joints. This is usually sufficient to separate the two parts of a window sealed by paint. Once you've separated the parts and have managed to open the window, you can take a candle and rub it along the runners of the frame; this will help the windows to move smoothly.