Historic Metal Casement Windows | Repair & Restoration Guide
With care and routine cleaning historic metal casement windows can last just as long as a modern day replacement. Whether cast, wrought iron or steel, corrosion is generally the primary cause of any issues that might occur. This guide aims to give a historical context to non-galvanised (pre 1950) metal casement windows and the distinct development of material and form over the years, advice on a best practise maintenance routine, signs of deterioration to look out for and likely restoration and repair techniques when metal windows are in need of intervention. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure this guide is informative, this is not a definitive resource to historic metal window restoration and specialist advice should always be sought when necessary. The first metal windows in the UK were reserved for the noble or papal. Exceptionally expensive, glazing was not affordable for most meaning the earliest examples of metal windows in the UK are predominantly found in ecclesiastical buildings and country manors. Initially, windows were made by medieval blacksmiths from wrought iron. Installed directly into the building secured with copper or lead ferramenta bars, the windows were fixed closed and fairly simplistic in design. Casement windows, those with at least one light or pane that could be opened, required significantly more skill and craftsmanship, since they required mechanical components. The majority of 14th - 17th century windows took this form, made up of a series of leaded light panels, in diamond shapes (known as quarries) joined together using strips of lead (cames) to produce one casement glazed area framed with wrought iron. In the 18th century, wrought iron casement windows were predominantly superseded by the latest fashion - timber sash windows which we see so much of today. Still, metal casement windows with leaded lights continued to be used in ecclesiastical settings and in lowlier domestic houses, and a mini renaissance occurred in the 1800's with the boom in gothic architecture, the arts and crafts movement and the industrial revolution. The developments in manufacturing processes in the industrial revolution led to traditional wood sash windows being reproduced in cast iron. Once a craftsman's job, metal windows could now be mass produced by the new 19th century factories. The final stage historically in metal window development came in the 1850's when Sir Henry Bessemer, an English engineer and inventor, developed a new mass production process for hot rolled steel. This allowed for new innovations in the manufacture of casement windows and as a result they became predominantly made from steel. Through the Art Deco and World War periods, owing to the versatility of the material architecturally, steel window production flourished. One of the largest and most well-known producers of the time were Crittal - now a well-used term for steel windows - which are still in production to this day. To find out more about the metallurgy and a historical context of the particular metals used in these windows have a look at our tech spec guides for wrought iron, cast iron and steel. In the case of older non-galvanised metal windows made of wrought iron, cast iron or steel, a maintenance routine should be developed to ensure your windows last as they should. Some of the most prevalent problems that occur with metal casement windows include: Corrosion, although slightly different dependent on the fabric of your window casement, is generally the primary cause of any issues that might occur, and good care and routine cleaning will keep this to a minimum, protecting both the metal and glazing. If in any doubt, seek professional advice before attempting to clean metal windows. Check metal frames for sitting water - whether resulting from heavy rain or condensation. Gathering to excess can accelerate the corrosion process. Some steel casement windows will have small holes along their base (weep holes) to allow sitting water to drain away. Check these regularly for blockages and keep them clear of any obstructions Light rust can be removed by hand with a wire brush or sandpaper, however, more severely corroded metal windows may need to be cleaned professionally. Oiling moving components of window furniture regularly will help reduce the chances of rusting or fusing shut. A thin oil (such as 2 in 1) should be used on iron and steel window moving components to keep free. You can clean historic ironmongery gently with soft cloths or brass brush. Do not to use any abrasive cream or solvents and ensure you dry the ironwork completely after cleaning. Signs of Windows in Need of Intervention There are certain signs to look out for that may indicate some of the above conditions may be occurring, at which point, restoration/conservation advice should be sought. Fusing between catches, stays and pivots (never force windows open or closed if they are stuck!) Blistering to protective paintwork where metal underneath is corroding Lifting / falling out of putty around glazing Often, metal casement windows will look a lot worse than they actually are. Since rust by volume is greater than un-oxidised iron or steel, what looks like a terrible mess may in fact be fairly easily rectified by a professional. Once restored, metal casement windows can last as long as a new replacement would if maintained. Original historic metal windows bring character and aesthetic to your building, and should never be replaced with uPVC or other crude alternatives. Replication, where repair is not possible, should be sensitive to the character of existing windows using matching sections, original fittings, and where necessary, traditionally produced glass. An important note should be made on window furniture. It is of great importance that the existing furniture is both maintained and preserved where possible and re-used during any repair or alteration works. These points are even more relevant where the building is listed or in a conservation area and planning consents maybe required. In restoration, glazing and old putty will often need removing from the metal frames. Existing glazing will be carefully cleaned and reinstated and replacement putty installed. Where the metal frames are in need of attention, dependent on the fabric, dent-straightening, cold stitching (if thick enough), fire welding, modern welding and patching are typical repair techniques which may be used. Whilst light corrosion can be removed by hand, serious rust may require using acid pickling or shot blasting. Which techniques are employed will often depend on both budgets and the historical context of the windows. A zinc based paint will often be used as a primer to provide a protective layer to bare metal prior to painting with a suitable system. It should be noted, that removing all coatings from the metalwork can destroy evidence of previous historic paintwork. As such some paint samples should be taken and if possible layers should be left behind in a small area where rust has not occurred to provide a context for future owners. These restoration methods should only ever be carried out by a skilled and experienced professional. Click below for guides on other architectural metalwork features:1. I am a 13 year old girl. And i LOVE bands like Paramore and alternative music how should I decorate my room?Paint your entire room a neutral color. Find a wall screen of worn out brick, cover the wall behind your bed and the wall adjacent to it in the screen. Keep your floor bare. Put posters up of the band you like on the walls without the brick. Get a bed, desk, beside table, and chairs with metal frames. Also be sure to get a great stereo system. Hope this works out for you!2. Eyeglass wearers: Do you prefer plastic frames or metal frames?Plastic because they are not pliable and they show me as the geek I truly am :]3. A Guide to Choosing Glasses That FitAnyone who has ever worn glasses understands how uncomfortable a pair can be if they are not properly fitted and adjusted. While industry pros are capable of only slightly adjusting plastic frames, there are a variety of ways that metal frames can be adjusted for an ideal fit. Experts know that the one of the most common ways of adjusting metal frames is through the nose pads. Read on for a quick guide to some of the most popular types of nose pads used on metal frame glasses, and how an Optician can select the right ones for their client. While optical nose pads are available in a wide range of materials, professionals know that there are two types that are most common: plastic and silicone. Graduates of optician programs know that silicone is generally the most comfortable material for nose pads. It is soft and flexible, and moulds to the contours of the wearer's nose. However, silicone nose pads are not perfect, as their porous material easily absorbs sweat and dirt. Causing a slight discoloration to occur about every six months. Once you have earned your optician diploma, it is important to have your clients check in with you at least twice a year to have their silicone pads switched out for new ones. Plastic nose pads, on the other hand, have a much more rigid feel compared to silicone ones. Opticians know that nose pads made from this material tend to be much less comfortable than the silicone pads, and do not contour to the face the same way. Opticians Choose the Best Method to Mount Nose Pads Students enrolled in Licensed Optician courses will learn that there are several ways that nose pads can be mounted onto a pair of metal frame glasses. Dispensing Opticians always have screw on nose pads on hand, since these are the most popular type. They are held onto the frames by a tiny screw that slides through a hole beneath the nose pad and the frame's guard arm. If a customer should need replacement screw on pads, it is important to recommend that they see a certified optician. A screwdriver must be used and it can easily slip and scratch the lenses. Snap on nose pads are also quite common. They come in a variety of materials and are very easy to replace. They can be found at virtually any eyeglasses store and they simply click on and off of the frames. Professional Opticians Understand the Importance of Nose Pad Shape and Size Professional Licensed Opticians know that nose pads are made in sizes. Ranging from approximately 9mm to 24mm, and they come in many different shapes. It is important that an Optician select the right size for his or her client, depending on their specific features. Symmetrical nose pads are all identical and can be used on both the left side and the right. These are ideal for opticians as the guesswork usually involved in differentiating the left from the right pad is eliminated. Asymmetrical nose pads consist of a pad designated to wither the right or left side of a frame. Experts know that the flat edge of these pads should always face away from the face. Would you like to learn more about optical retail? Find out more about Stenberg College's Optician Diploma Program!