Sash and case windows are common in the Edinburgh area, but can be prone to certain problems if not properly looked after. These traditional windows are often over 100 years old, which is testament to the fine craftsmanship of those who made them. They are comprised of many component parts, all of which need to been maintained and looked after. With the wear and tear of day-to-day life, it’s likely that one or more of these parts will become faulty if neglected. This can lead to problems such as rattling, draughts and poor functionality.

Problems with Sash and Case Windows

Renovating and refurbishing sash and case windows is one of our specialities. As such, we have a pretty good grasp on the common issues that occur! If you’re experiencing problems with your sash and case window, read up on some of the potential causes.

Timber Decay

When the paint on a window isn’t maintained properly the timber beneath becomes exposed to the elements. This induces decay and rot, meaning the frame will become weak, cracked and may start to fall apart. This reduces the functionality of the sliding mechanism and can cause the timber to fall away or swell. This means either the window becomes loose in its frame or stuck in the case, refusing to budge.

These issues can be avoided by regular repainting and looking out for telltale signs of decay. Catching the problem early will mean a simpler job repairing it.

Things to look out for: You can catch decay early by noticing a damp smell. Be es especially aware of this around the windowsill as this will be most prone to decay.

Poor Operation

Sash and case windows can be tricky to open and shut if the sliding mechanism is experiencing problems. This might be because the windows have been painted shut, the sash cords have broken, wear to the sides of the sashes or cases, or water ingress causing the timber to swell.

If this happens you’ll often need to have extensive work done in order to repair the damage. If the sash cords have broken or the timber has swollen then you will most likely need to completely remove the sash and have various parts replaced.

Things to look out for: If you notice your top or bottom sash doesn’t slide as smoothly as it once did, this could mean it needs looking at. Get in touch if you’re concerned about your sliding mechanism.

Broken or Old Sash Cords

Over time the various parts of a sash and case window will experience problems due to wear and tear. This applies to sash cords, which will make the window extremely difficult to open since the counterweights will become detached from the sash. If these break, you’ll find it near impossible to shift either the top or bottom sash! The counterweights to which the cords are attached are there to counteract the considerable weight of the window. These make it easier to smoothly open and close the window. Without them, though, the mechanism will not function.

General maintenance will keep the window working as it should, and will mean you can replace any parts that are looking worse for wear before they cause a serious problem which can have knock-on effects for the rest of the window.

Things to look out for: If it’s been a while since any work has been carried out on your window, it’s probably a good idea to have it checked! As previously said, these windows last for 100 years. It’s likely that the cords will become weak and snap in this time, so get them checked out before they create bigger problems.

Loss of Putty

Putty is used on sash and case windows to hold the glass in place. However, over time it can become hard and crack, loosening its grip on the glass. This allows water to soak into the timber, causing a multitude of further issues such as damp, swelling and decay.

Things to look out for: Just check the putty! If it seems past its best, it’s definitely a good idea to have it replaced. If it perishes then the glass may be prone to rattle in the wind, and the sash and case will be at risk of water ingress and the myriad problems this incurs.

Wooden vs. Plastic Sash and Case Windows

Sash and case windows are a hallmark of buildings in and around Edinburgh. These traditional features have been around since the 17th century and have been a popular feature of homes across Scotland ever since.

Today, though, lots of people are opting for plastic over timber windows for the sake of convenience. Plastic can seem like the better option by being more resistant to water ingress and other problems common to sash and case windows. However, homeowners sacrifice a huge amount in terms of aesthetic – and there’s really no need to!

With proper maintenance and care there is no reason that a freshly renovated, timber sash and case shouldn’t last another 100 years. We offer a number of services that ensure you get the most from your windows.

Our Sash and Case Services

Our services will breathe new life into your windows and make them better than ever with the installation of Slide and Seal draught proofing. We also offer installation of double glazing, so you can improve your home’s energy efficiency without sacrificing the unique charm that sash and case windows offer.


There’s lots to keep track of when looking after your sash and case windows, but it’s so worth it! A smooth operating, well-maintained sash and case window is a wonderful feature for any property. So, even if they do take a bit more work you get a great reward at the end of it.