There are certain home renovation tasks that I always think of as grown-up things I could never imagine myself doing. This year, I decided to take on one more of them and replace all the windows of our house as well as the sliding glass door and fixed panel that led to the garden.
The sliding door and fixed panel had always been a bugbear. Heavy, old and impossible to clean, we’d been using them for years until we realised one reason that they squeaked was that a bolt at the bottom of the sliding door had been thrown and was scraping along the track. Moving this helped but it still required using most of my body weight to open the door.
In some ways, I’m glad I’ve left this project so long because a few years ago when I looked into it, the options I was presented with in my price bracket were nearly all white or woodgrain frames. However now, more manufacturers have caught on to the demand for aluminium and anthracite grey frames, with the latter being a bestseller.
Despite having written about windows and doors, it’s only when you take on your own project do you discover everything you need to consider. I was unprepared, beyond having learned a few terms about sightlines and slave doors with which to impress the double glazing salesmen who were about to traipse around my house while exhaling thoughtfully.
One of the first decisions I made was to get rid of the fanlights. Not only did we rarely use them for the minimal ventilation for which they’re intended, they were yet another bit of frame blocking the light from our north-facing house. Instead, the PVCu windows I chose can be slightly open yet locked at the same time – perfect for a light breeze without the wind whipping a panel further open than required.
Next, I decided to get rid of a second opener for the main bedroom, so that it’d balance with the window below and again, let in more light. Finally, I swapped the bathroom’s impossible to open fanlight for a half-pane side-opener instead.
The aluminium bi-folds were more tricky to figure out. First, they all have to open the same way, meaning that if my slave door opened inward, then my bi-folds would have to stack the same way. Neither in or out opening was entirely the best option – stacking outside would take up space on the balcony, stacking inside would cause havoc with anything by the window – but in the end, we went for the latter. It’s meant we’ve had to move our curtains over by about 10cm and clear the floor of anything in the way, but so far, getting in and out of the house is infinitely easier.
So here’s the resulting whole house window swap – anthracite frames, fanlight-free and more balanced for a bit more kerb appeal:
One project rarely stands by itself, so the next task is swapping the perversely narrow front door for a new, wider one. There’s going to be masonry grinding, a few space-saving tricks and everything. Stay tuned!
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- Kitchen design diary: Slow progress
- Kitchen design diary: Fitting begins
- Kitchen design diary: Rebuild and restore