CE Marking – how will this affect you as a buyer of hardwood windows and doors?

From July 1st the windows and doors manufacturing industry will be legally obliged to put a CE mark of approval on all products that are made and sold after this date.

At first glance you may feel that this is an unnecessary burden on manufacturers which can only add to the cost of the production which will result in the customer paying for that in the end.

In many cases you may be right but it may not be all doom and gloom. Let us try and explain what the processes are and what benefits they may bring to you as a customer.

What is a CE label and why should it appear on handmade windows and doors?

The CE marking or formerly EC mark, is a mandatory conformity marking for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1993. The CE marking is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product he sells meets the requirements of the applicable EC directives.

All in all it means that the manufacturer has to verify that the product complies with all relevant essential requirements such as safety, health and environmental protection requirements of the applicable directive.

It is also obligatory for all such products made in third countries (non-member states of the European Community) sold in the EEA. In this case, the importer has to make sure that the manufacturer outside the EU has taken the necessary steps that allow him to affix the CE marking.

What does a windows and doors manufacturer have to comply with to get a CE mark?

CE Marking on windows and doors covers a raft of performance characteristics via BS EN 14351  which can be distilled down to the three fundamentals that are required for regulatory compliance in the UK; the U value, the load bearing capacity of safety devices and confirmation that no dangerous substances are released under normal use.

To qualify for a CE Mark products must achieve the prescribed levels of performance as outlined but also be manufactured in line with a factory production control system (FPC). This clearly creates issues for those fabricators and installers who buy-in frames and glass separately.

However, requirements are not designed to be a difficult process – we as joinery manufacturers have to declare a few characteristics to show the products performance; most manufacturers do this already and this is just asking for some mandatory requirements to be declared.

So what are the benefits to you as a potential purchaser of timber doors and windows?

In short, you as a customer can satisfy yourself on a number of levels that your products are manufactured and fitted to recognised (and normally high) standards of quality. The wood will be from a sustainable source and the processes of manufacture will have been agreed with a factory production control procedure to measure it.

As an industry however the onus will be a burden and particularly on the smaller joiner and the smaller installer. Those that do not comply run the risk of legal action and punishment by fines or worse in more serious cases.

However, for those that do comply it means that there is a recognised level of quality about the product they sell which will be of particular reassurance to those purchasers that may be about to spend a small fortune on products that they previously had no idea of how they came to be.

Obviously there are cowboys In every industry and sadly there will still be some in this one. But this system of marking will begin to wheedle them out. So if you are faced with an installer who is just about to fit windows or doors that have no marking ask him to provide you with is declaration of conformity. He must provide it. It will be in your interests to do so as although we don’t know now, it may become important when the time comes to sell your house.

 

Hardwood timber doors, floors, staircases and mouldings create rich natural colors with handcrafted quality.

And thats why I wanted to tell you more about why should consider changing to hardwood wherever you can in your home. I know it can be costly but over time it will prove a far wiser choice than other cheaper alternatives.

hardwood is beautiful

Some quick reasons why you should choose hardwood:

  • Natural, warm, authentic color.
  • Simple, yet decorative for any room in the house.
  • Rugged, yet charming.
  • Durable and easy to care for.
  • Beauty that’s hard to tire of.
  • Lasts the lifetime of the home. No need to renew doors or other fittings.
  • Adds real value to a home. It can be a great investment.

Simply put hardwood introduces stature, quality and charm to any room and becomes more valuable as time goes by. Hardwood will enhance any environment in which it appears.

Hardwood transcends time and over the long run it’s probably the least expensive option. If you come to sell your home in a few years time a prospective purchaser will be guaranteed to be impressed with the quality and creaftsmanship of your fittings. He will also understand that no further investment on his part will be neccessary. And, thus, your asking price will very likely be met.

So to keep your investment in tip top condition you will be pleased to know that it is very simple to keep that sheen that so impresses one and all.

Generally, you have three options:

  1. You can use a refresher to enhance the shine
  2. You can lightly screen and re-coat with urethane polishes and varnishes to bring back the original luster
  3. You can completely sand and refinish the surface to make the wood look brand new.

Also, a urethane-protected hardwood surface provides so much durability you may never need to choose any of the above options.

And you are spoilt for choice too. If you have a favourite wood just tell us and we will tell you if we can produce what you are looking for from it.

There are many varieties of colours and species of hardwoods. From the lighter colours of natural oak to the rich reds of Cherry hardwoods will bring naturally diverse colours into any room. Other colours and species include Oak, White Ash, Mahogany, Walnut, Beech, Chestnut, Idigbo, Yew, Lime, Olive and so many more.

Generally, the harder the wood the more durable. However, grain and color must be considered because light colors with less grain may actually  show more wear than “softer” woods. The hardest woods include Idigbo, Maple and White Oak, while American Cherry and Walnut are softer hardwoods.

So there you have it a basic introduction as to why we think an investment in solid timber hardwoods will pay dividends for you. Good luck.

traditional timber sash window in yorkshire cottageFurther to my first blog about the history of sash windows I thought it timely to tell you how they continued to thrive before falling out of favour during the 20th century until today where they are again enjoyingtheir rightful place in the nation’s popularity.

Later Improvements

As the 18th Century progressed, the construction of sash windows improved,glazing bars became steadily thinner and became the norm. In more expensive work, these bars were sometimes constructed of iron or brass and often
painted to appear like wood.As the century progressed and larger panes of glass became available.

Window construction also improved and by the end of the Century the basic construction, that is familiar today, had developed.
Later cast-iron and brass sash pulleys superseded the earlier types, illustrating the care, thought and invention, that went into the improvement of sash windows.

Although early sash windows were mainly constructed of oak, imported Baltic softwoods became widely used for sash windows. However oak remained common for window sills, the rest of the window being constructed of soft wood.

Glass & Glazing

The most common form of glass throughout the Georgian period was Crown glass. This was made by blowing, with a central bull’s-eye.

By the 1850′s, more expensive villas and terraced houses were built with plate-glass windows to front facades whilst glazing bars were still used in basements,attics and on less important elevations.

The most widely used design were four-paned sash windows. Sheet glass was common in Victorian Gothic villas and terraces, and by the 1870′s the four paned sash was the standard for cheaper terraced houses, although there were regional variations.

In the 1870′s and 1880′s the influence of architects such as Philip Webb and Norman Shaw, and the Queen Anne Revival style, led to the return of glazing bars, which often imitated Queen Anne windows with Victorian modifications, such as sash windows horns.

Many patents were taken out for sash windows in the later 19th Century, One of these may be seen in hotels and public buildings in particular with a device which allowed the sash to pivot inwards to facilitate cleaning.

Victorian & Edwardian

After the First World War, although sash windows were still used in larger houses in the neo-Georgian style, a revival of vernacular styleswas seen. Oan sash window. Banks Hall Yorkshire

The construction of sash windows involved sophisticated techniques and mouldings,with added labour costs, and this was probably one of the major reasons why mass-produced steel and timber windows became popular, particularly for housing estates.

Twenties & Thirties

During the twenties and thirties, chains often replaced sash cords in the domestic setting. Chains had been employed for large plate-glass windows in the 19th Century, but were then rare in houses. By 1939, the use of sash windows was confined largely to neo-Georgian buildings, particularly post offices, banks, public houses and local
authority housing estates.

After the Second World War, the sash window popularity declined. The steel spiral balance began to replace the pulley and weights, which were expensive to make. Mass-produced casements became universal, and the sash was considered
“old-fasioned”.

By the 1950′s, many owners of older houses were replacing sash windows with up-to-date steel casements and by the 60s with plate-glass, often with louvered vents at the top, thus disfiguring many a splendid Victorian house.

By the mid 1970′s the aluminium window, with its sealed glass unit, began to supersede the idea of internal double glazing, and window replacement began on a scale never before seen in this country. By the early 1980′s, this process increased. It became quite usual, not only for the actual sash to be replaced, but for the whole frame to be replaced by a hardwood frame and an aluminium double-glazed unit-totally unsuitable aesthetically for an older house.

I believe this disfigurement on such a large scale has been a motivation behind people’s decision to return to the sash window as a replacement style for their homes.
Hundreds of years of nurturing a classic style cannot be wiped out purely for financial practicalities alone and the enduring appeal of the sash window is now seeing a revival.

Long may it continue and long may we at Croxfords provide you with timeless and durable traditional timber sash windows for your home.

traditional sash windows

I recently came across a nostalgic old film that made some great viewing for me and I thought that I should share it with you . Whilst a lot of the old processes have gone many still remain but you will see where a lot of the old craft comes from.

The first half  of the film uses the house under construction to demonstrate the difference between rough (basement joists and cross ties) and fine (windows, doors and cabinets) carpentry, and then goes on to show how other woodworking jobs exist in factories supplying the construction trade. It shows the processes (and jobs) involved in creating plywood,laminates and fine furniture although it makes a point of mentioning that, because of the added cost, there is a limited market for the latter.

Tell me what you think and tell me if you like it.

We often get asked to produce sash windows for clients and I enjoy the challenge of producing these classic windows every time. I think it must be something to do with the beauty of them and how they have so heavily influenced classic design in Regency, Georgian and Victorian architecture.

So I thought I would share some of my knowledge of their origins with you and over the next couple of weeks tell you how they evolved to the point that they are making an impression on design in the twenty first century.

Origins
Whoever made the first sash windows has been the subject of many a debate and speculation and, until recently, the general opinion was that sash windows were invented in Holland in the late 17th Century.

Sash Windows supplied by CroxfordsHowever recent research work undertaken by Dr Hinte Louw, of the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, suggests that sash windows could have been invented earlier in the 17th Century in England whilst some historians suggest that sash windows originated in France as the word “sash” derives from the French “chassis” , which means frame. I like the idea that they came from the Yorkshire sash which slid horizontally and without weights.But in the end, who cares, sash windows are as traditionally British as cricket and Yorkshire puddings, and have become synonymous with all kinds of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

Early Use
The earliest-known use of sash windows in this country was in the later part of the 17th Century, at Chatsworth (c1676-1680), Ham House, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace. Ideally suited to the “perfect canons of proportion” with their subtle style and elegance, sash windows were one of the most important visual elements in buildings of the 18th and 19th Centuries and together with Royal patronage and adoption by Sir Christopher Wren, sash windows very quickly became both fashionable and a status symbol in old and new buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

The development of sash windows was timely as they had enormous aesthetic and practical superiority over the older casement windows.

These wrought-iron hinged metal windows, with their mullions and lead cames, were not only dark and draughty, but weaknesses in the leaded casement restricted the use of larger sheets of glass.

Casement windows, when open, detracted from the facade rather than enhance it, whilst the new sash windows were smart with their white frameworks and larger sheets of glass. The crown glass in these early sash windows created beautiful reflections that could not be matched by the small panes of earlier windows.

People who could afford the new sash windows ruthlessly cut out their leaded-light windows, which explains why so many larger 16th and 17th Century houses have early 18th Century windows.
This fashionable modernisation was often lavished only on the principal facades, and early casement windows often survived on the less prominent facades. The earliest sash windows had thick glazing bars to the sashes, which were usually constructed of oak, the weight box being set almost flush with the outer wall.

Next week I will bring you up to date with the history of sash windows and how they are now seeing a revival in the twenty first century.

Croxfords Joiners and CarpentersPlease welcome me to the world of blogging. I am new at this but having said that I am certainly not new to the world of carpentry. And it is joinery and carpentry that I will be talking to you about.

My father who was a skilled craftsman taught me all I know and he also started the firm that I am now proud of running. We have existed as an organisation for 44 years having been established in 1968.

I will tell you more about the history of Croxfords over the coming weeks and months and you will hear a tale that will be typical of a small hard working family business that is true to the roots of traditional wood working. We are a Yorkshire family and I have been settled in and around  Holmfirth near Huddersfield all my life.

I will also be introducing you to members of our staff and  be giving you a tour of our modern workshop. I will show you some of the impressive machinery we use to prepare the highest quality handmade hardwood doors and windows which are our speciality. I will show you projects that we are working on so you can see, for example, how a traditional wood staircase is put together. Have you ever wondered how to put together a Georgian sash window?

I  will show you some of the tricks of the trade a specialist joinery manufacturer uses to achieve such exacting results.

Finally I will show you some of the work we have done over the years and tell you some of the landmark buildings we have worked on. You will be surprised at the number of well known establishments that have our seen our craftsmanship.

In all I hope to bring you an interesting insight into our world of specialist joinery.

Please follow me and click the like button. That way I will know if any one is listening to me.

Or will it be like home !!!

 

 

Sasy window restoration projectThe window above (photo on the left)  has had the sash box fully refurbished and new double glazed draft proofed sashes installed. It meets current 2011 building regulations, is registered with FENSA, was approved by the local conservation officer and comes with a 5 year insurance backed warranty.

To achieve this result has not been easy. Georgian bar Sash windows are notoriously difficult to double glaze sympathetically. Most conservation officers are well aware of this and often insist that windows remain single glazed. The main problem is the width of the glazing bar, this can be as narrow as 16mm but more typically it is in the 19-28mm range. It’s all the Georgians needed – as there was no spacer bar to conceal, then a circa 6mm glazing rebate would suffice.

Achieving the look of single glazing with double glazed sashes requires care. It is essential to match all the dimensions of the original sash exactly, including the glazing bar and as can be seen on the final picture, where our double glazed Georgian sashes are adjacent to a property with the original single glazed windows, it is exceptionally hard to tell which one has been double glazed.

So how do we achieve this result? Well if you’d like to find out our secrets learn how you can double glaze your Georgian sliding box sashes without compromising your period look, then give us a call and we can come out and do a free survey on your property.

Croxfords – Specialist  Joinery Manufacturers