Traditional windows are important to the heritage of your listed properties. However, the old age of the windows itself may cause problems to its functionality, such as the rotting of the frame, poor energy efficiency, and hardware problems. This may lead you to the conclusion of replacing them altogether, and here’s what you need to know before that big decision.

Repair over replace

Repairs are always prioritized over replacements, and that is because the windows from listed buildings hold a significant history within its architecture. Replacements for the timber frames are not as durable as the classic timber, and crown glass panes for the windows are not manufactured anymore. That is why it is important to salvage what you can from the traditional windows before replacing any material that was used from the old ones.

You might also want to check out: Listed buildings: regulations and permissions for restoration

Permissions for alterations

Listed buildings are legally protected from any alterations or demolitions that are to be done unless they meet the terms for the building regulations. Certain permissions are necessary to be able to make changes to the windows, especially if the materials to be used are not like for like. Consult your local planning authority about these modifications to know more about what you can do to your windows. Afterwards, you can apply for a Listed Building Consent and get them approved to start replacements.

General approach on replacements

If repair is not possible anymore, then replacement may be done to the windows. However, these are also subject to the terms of the building regulations, and Historic England has listed several items to which they may approach replacement of these historic items or materials.

  1. Historic windows which make a contribute positively to the significance of the listed building should be retained and repaired. If repair is not possible, replacements should be accurate copies.
  2. Current windows that already serve as replacements but still follow the historic pattern of the building should also be repaired and retained. If this is not possible, then replacements should also be accurate copies.
  3. For historic or replacement windows with historic pattern without the historic glass, slim-profile double-glazing should be installed given that there will be no damage to the windows, a common issue with thick double-glazing.
  4. Replacement windows which do not follow the design from historic patters should be replaced by new windows which adhere to the architectural design of the building. Single-glazed or slim-profile double-glazing may also be incorporated with no additional harm. This increases the significance of the building.
  5. When replacing or re-glazing the windows, reflective properties should be considered, especially when multi-paned windows are proposed. Broken reflections by individually glazing each pane can add to the aesthetic and should thus be taken into account. Matching the other windows may also be considered.  

These information along with more details are made available through this publication by Historic England.

Historic windows are an essential part of your listed property, and you should take every step to preserve it and its history. When all else fails, however, you have these tips with you to tell you how you can replace your traditional windows with ease!

This article was written on behalf of Boulton & Boyce by Pieter Boyce. Pieter has an intense passion for English Architectural history and has been specialising in the conservation of original wooden windows and doors for decades. His exceptional knowledge of timber windows and doors, both listed or non-listed, is attributed to his hands-on approach to learning all aspects of the complete restoration of original features as well as having personally surveyed thousands of items throughout his long tenure as a head surveyor for one of the largest window and door restoration companies in the UK. He now runs a boutique wooden window and door consultancy and fervently champions the retention of original windows and doors. To learn more of Pieter’s services, visit his website at

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