Painting timber sash windows & traditional French doors

Painting your timber sash windows & traditional French doors helps preserve them for longer. Discover why it’s so important and the process we follow.

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The general consensus is that uPVC sash windows are better than timber because timber needs to be painted and uPVC doesn’t. But this means that if your windows or doors are looking a little tired and worn, you’ve got the hassle and cost of replacing them.

Believe it or not, the cheaper and more sustainable option (in the long run) is painting your timber sash windows and traditional French doors every once in a while. It’s actually not as difficult as it sounds either.

The history of paint

In Victorian times, they didn’t have much choice when it came to painting because all they had was oil-based paint to choose from. This paint was made from white lead, linseed oil, turpentine and a pigment of choice.

Gloss paint was the standard option; to compensate for the fact paint dulls over time. But oil-based paint wasn’t ideal. It was potentially poisonous and didn’t apply well to the wood unless it was bone dry. If there was any water inside the wood, it would make the paint blister and peel off over time.

The logic here was that oil-based paint would repel water, but the oil in the paint made the paint really thick.

Fast forward to now, and things have changed. These days, paint is a lot safer, protects for longer, goes on well, looks nicer and is quick to apply.

What we use to paint your windows and doors

We use water-based, micro-porous paint that has multiple benefits over oil-based paint.

It’s a lot thinner and is sprayed on in a workshop under a controlled environment to achieve a beautiful finish that provides greater protection against the elements.

What’s more, because the paint is micro-porous, any water that’s inside the wood can escape rather than staying where it is and rotting the window or door from the inside.

But with micro-porous paint technology, the timber can breathe. Water passes through the paint when the weather’s warm and there’s minimal damage for you to have to get fixed.

Our painting process – explained

It’s actually quite straightforward, but it’s the finer details that make a real difference to the final (all-important) finish.

We use two undercoats (primer) and one topcoat, which doesn’t sound too complicated. But when crafting, it’s all about the preparation and method.

  1. The timber is sanded multiple times. The finished window or door is then sprayed with a thick layer of undercoat to create a base for the topcoat to bind to.
  2. The undercoat is then sanded with fine grit sandpaper to create a smooth, even surface, and any holes or imperfections are filled. Another undercoat is applied to create a thicker base and sanded with even finer grit sandpaper.
  3. We apply the final topcoat with the glass in. Other companies think we’re MAD! Any good decorator will tell you that the topcoat should overlap on to the glass by about 1 or 2mm to seal in the glass and prevent water from coming in.
  4. Once the window or door is ready for the final coat, we install the glass with a sealant that, when cured, turns into rubber. This means the glass is guaranteed not to let any leaks in through the areas that meet with the wood. It also means the double glazing lasts a lot longer.
  5. Once the glass is installed, we mask up the glass (just like a decorator would) and then spray the final topcoat.
  6. Once the paint is dry, we quality check it. If your timber sash window or door doesn’t meet our standards, we’ll fill, sand and apply one final topcoat.

Why satin finishes matter

According to an old wives’ tale, if you have glossy windows, it protects against the weather more.

This most probably came from the fact that the glossier the window was back in the day, the more oil content it had, which made it potentially last longer.

But this isn’t true. Modern paints can be applied glossy or satin, depending on what your prefer.

We only stock satin paint because it has a nicer, cleaner finish and fits in better with the character of period properties.

Looking after your paint finish and redecorating

When you think about repainting your windows every 4 to 6 years, you probably think, ‘I need to take the paint back to the timber to do it properly.’ In actual fact, because we’ve done so much work in our workshop, this isn’t the case at all.

You only need a fine grit sanding sponge to take off any dirt that’s stuck on to the paint, fill in any chips, cracks or dents and lightly apply another coat of micro-porous paint.

Because this paint is thinner, it shouldn’t affect you opening or closing your doors or windows. It also means they aren’t going to be painted shut. It’s not an evasive process at all, and nothing like repainting original timber sash windows or traditional French doors.

A decorator needs about 1 day per window to redecorate an original Victorian sash window properly. With our windows, they should be able to get 3 or 4 painted in a single day, which is why we say repainting new windows is a whole lot cheaper than painting old windows.