Timber Casement Windows: What Are They And Where Did They Originate?
Historically speaking, timber casement windows were the dominant window style in the home building industry for years. Traditionally a European creation, they came to America with early settlers.
Many historical American homes boast the original, albeit restored, timber casement windows installed when they were constructed.
A casement window, the first manufactured, opening window, is side-hinged. The classic timber casement window swung inward with externally mounted shutters that swung outward and locked from the inside.
Compared with sash style windows, timber casement windows were much easier to build and maintain, but function alone does not account for their continued popularity.
Benefits of the Timber Casement Window
Although today’s timber casement windows have improved, there are benefits over other windows that have always been evident.
1) Timber casement windows are the only windows that fully open the framed area to the outside.
2) Timber casement windows can utilize either a single or a double casement.
3) Timber casement windows can swing either inward or outward, depending on design requirements.
4) Single casement windows can have hinges on either the left or right side of the opening.
5) Timber casement windows lock more securely than other styles of windows.
6) Casement windows are unrestrained to a large degree by the size of the opening that they fill; French casements commonly function as doors.
Improving the Timber Casement Window for Today’s Homes
Despite the architectural appeal of traditional timber casement windows, some issues have created problems in the past. One drawback to timber construction windows is that, without proper maintenance, they are subject to damage by the elements.
This issue is not restricted to timber casement windows, but effects all windows constructed of wood as highlighted by the following:
1) Wood swells correspondingly as the humidity of the environment increases; surface treatments such as paint can minimize but not eliminate this effect.
2) Moisture from sources such as snow, rain and even condensation will cause wood to deteriorate. Again, painting the wood will delay the onset but not eliminate this effect.
3) Constant swelling and contraction from exposure to moisture and then heat causes movement that loosens joints and the adhesion of bonding agents used in assembly as well as any surface treatment.
4) The loosening of joints and bonding agents creates the condition of loose fitting pieces that allow air, dust and, if severe enough, water to enter the home.
Fortunately, today’s materials, manufacturing technology and design improvements have all but eliminated the bulk of the problems associated with wood construction. Window elements that see external exposure are often clad in aluminum that does not deteriorate like exposed wood or require painting to protect it from the elements.
Internal improvements have created a seal to the outside that is impervious to the elements thereby protecting the home from drafts, dust and moisture. Overall, with the advances in manufacturing technology, it is now possible to enjoy the architecture of the past without the drawbacks.