The front of a building is its face, the windows its most noticeable feature. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; but balance, symmetry and proportion are always important factors. We’ve all seen rows of houses where one property looks perfect and the one next door looks just…wrong. More times than not, the difference between beautiful and beastly is down to inappropriate replacement windows.

Windows make a major contribution to the character of period properties and every effort should be made to retain them. They also tell us a lot about the history of a building including changes in architectural taste and style, social hierarchy and traditional craft skills.

However, older windows can often be draughty as over time they can suffer from lack of maintenance, building movement and weakened joints. Adequate ventilation is important in older buildings but excessive air leakage through windows wastes heat and is uncomfortable for occupants.

Often the first thought people have, is to replace their old windows with new, usually incorporating modern double glazed units. This is costly and often completely unnecessary along with the fact that double glazing has a limited life before units break down and need to be replaced. Original windows can almost always be repaired and at a fraction of the cost of replacement windows.

Secondary glazing can then be installed to the room side of existing windows and the original window remains in position. Secondary glazing is available as open-able, removable or fixed units. The open-able panels can be either side-hung casements or horizontal or vertical sliding sashes. These allow access to the external window for cleaning and the opening of both the secondary glazing and external windows for ventilation.

Once complete, the installation of quality secondary glazing enhances the comfort of the property by giving better thermal efficiency, and in turn reduces energy bills and helps with condensation problems. Secondary glazing also offers better acoustic performance and provides an additional barrier to entry, therefore providing improved security for the property.

Why then is there such divided opinion about secondary glazing? Let’s deal with a few myths.

‘Secondary glazing is ugly’
Poorly constructed and installed secondary glazing can be unsightly, but there are companies producing quality secondary glazing specifically designed for the period property and heritage sector. Properly manufactured and fitted, secondary glazing is barely visible, inside and out.

‘Secondary glazing is obtrusive’
There’s an art to fitting secondary glazing in older properties. Out of true window frames need to be accommodated and balanced to the eye. When it’s accounted for and fitted properly, all you see is the unique, original window.

‘Secondary glazing is a cheap alternative to double glazing

Yes, it is: it usually costs much less than replacing original windows. No, it doesn’t need to look cheap. Choose your supplier carefully, and it won’t look cheap at all. The historic buildings in the pictures shown all have secondary glazing fitted. Good secondary glazing pays equal attention to appearance, performance, practicability and price.

Maintaining character

When owners of period properties seek to improve the energy efficiency of their home, most people initially think to replace the existing single-glazed windows with double glazing. Ecology-wise, why scrap a potentially serviceable window, only to replace it with twice as much material, adding to landfill and energy consumption? Property owners should first consider whether altering the windows is beneficial or necessary and, secondly whether double glazed replacements are genuinely the best solution.
 
In conclusion, secondary glazing maintains a building’s character, offers up to 60% better insulation performance, reduced noise and greater security along with the benefits of retaining the original windows – ideal for those of us wanting to preserve our property, do our bit for sustainability and benefit from lower energy bills.

Clearview Secondary Glazing for significantly improved acoustic and heat insulation to period property; achieved without the disruption of replacement windows, and without damaging the character of the building.

Clearview systems are custom-made and supplied fully assembled. The result? A clean, unobtrusive installation – even in the most difficult situations. Clearview Secondary Glazing is suitable for all types of building, including  grade I and II listed buildings. There are solutions for virtually every project and budget. A full design, supply and installation service or custom-made DIY, ready-to-install kits – with step-by-step fitting instructions. Clearview is proud to be a supplier to the National Trust.

For more information visit www.clearviewsg.co.uk, email info@clearviewsg.co.uk or call 0114 279 2875.

This is an article from ProjectBook which provides a wide range of information for the conservation, restoration, care and repair of period and listed buildings.

Established in 2008, Projectbook provides recognition and support for the Uk’s leading conservation and heritage professionals as well as putting property owners in touch with the right people and information.

Clearview are members of the Products Directory which provides a showcase for specialist products, suitable for use on traditional properties. Updated daily with new content, the website features the Heritage Register, a products directory, informative articles, current news, events around the UK and more. For more information, visit www.projectbook.co.uk.

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  • S A Longden

    One problem with secondary double glazing that slides left/right is that the runnells collect plenty of dead insect life, dust and water. This is quite hard to clean out and if you don’t get the condensation water out it gets mouldy and that runs up the window etc. The sections of this kind are very heavy to lift out and replace in order to do a thorough clean.