How to Maintain Wooden Windows

Cleaning a wooden window

Many home-owners opt for wooden windows because of their natural finish and traditional look. In order to care for timber windows and keep them looking their best, it’s important to maintain them regularly.

If you’re wondering how to maintain wooden windows, when to treat them or how often to clean them, here are some helpful tips and suggestions to ensure you get the best out of your timber windows.

What are timber windows?

Timber windows have a wooden frame, whether it be solid oak hardwood or an engineered softwood. They come in a variety of colours and textures, with different glazing options and can be made in any shape or size. They are typically used in period properties and historical buildings but are also used in contemporary builds due to their aesthetic beauty.  

Timber windows are known for their unique material properties, which are very different from PVC or aluminium windows:

  • Versatility – timber can be made to fit a bespoke space and suit all types of properties
  • Ease – they are generally low maintenance
  • Finish – wooden windows can be painted in different colours, stains or varnish 
  • Practicality – they can be double or triple glazed, helping to keep out noise or cold weathers
  • Efficiency – timber has a high thermal and optical performance
  • Durability – wood is naturally strong and hard-wearing, even against tough weather conditions
  • Sustainability – they are considered a more environmentally-friendly option

There are various different types of timber windows available, including sash windows, flush casement windows, stormproof casement windows or fully reversible windows

Certain buildings may need to use particular types of timber windows due to their conservation status or historical nature. For these buildings you can choose timber conservation windows or timber bespoke windows

How regularly should you treat timber windows?

Due to the natural properties and flexibility of wood, timber windows need to be protected and strengthened with the correct paints, stains, varnishes or sealants. Even with these protective layers, it’s not indestructible and there will be natural movement over time.

However, it is possible to increase the longevity of your timber windows with regular maintenance. You should clean your timber windows once or twice a year (usually in the drier, summer months) and this regular inspection will allow you to spot any potential problems that might need attention. 

How much maintenance your windows will need depends on how they are used and how they have been treated. 

  • A professional finish (such as three layered coats with a quality opaque paint or varnish) should last around 5-10 years, depending on the day-to-day exposure to weather or the location of the property. 
  • A seafront property finished in white paint, for example, may need more frequent maintenance than a low-level home in a sheltered environment. 
  • A translucent stain may have a lesser lifespan – around 3 to 4 years. The manufacturer’s instructions for your choice of stain or paint will give you an idea of how many coats are required and how long it should last. 
  • For stained wood, you may even want to re-stain the windows each year to maintain a strong colour tone and ensure complete water resistance. 

How to clean timber windows

Perform this standard cleaning routine once or twice a year.

Step 1:

  • Before cleaning timber windows, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications to see if they suggest any specific instructions.

Step 2:

  • Gently wipe down and wash the windows using a soft cloth and a solution of warm water with washing-up liquid. You may need to start with a dry wipe if it is particularly dusty.
  • Be careful to use mild detergents, such as washing up liquid, or a homemade natural solution. Some harsher chemicals or household cleaners could react with the natural wood.
  • Be careful not to use a harsh abrasive brush as this could damage the glass or the wooden frame.

Step 3:

  • Any remaining grease or oil marks can be removed with undiluted washing up liquid.
  • Give them a final wipe with damp cloth (taking care not to soak them) to rinse off any remaining cleaning products.

Step 4:

  • You can now clean the window panes, making sure the glass cleaner does not go on the wood.

Step 5:

  • Finish off by cleaning the weather seals and vents in the same way. 

As you carry out the clean, look out for marks, scratches or cracks in the timber. As these start to appear it may be a sign that you need to treat your wooden windows by repainting or refinishing them.

You may be able to repaint or refinish wood windows yourself. Depending on the level of disrepair or how difficult it is to access the windows, you might prefer to try a DIY treatment to save money on booking a professional painter or decorator. 

Cleaning a wooden window

Maintaining wooden windows

First of all, choose your paint, stain or varnish and check that it’s suitable for timber windows. A general exterior paint or a different product such as yacht varnish may not work as well and may require more frequent maintenance.

  • Prepare the area by cleaning the frame and the glass (as above) and letting it fully dry.
  • Gently rub down the frame using fine abrasive paper to get rid of any dirt.
  • Dust away the dirt and debris with a damp cloth, then wait until it’s dry.
  • Cover (or remove) any ironmongery or glass to protect it from the paint.
  • When re-coating windows, apply at least 2 coats of your chosen paint or stain. 
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions and note down the drying time.
  • Use a high quality brush.

Refinishing wooden windows

Even if you don’t feel confident about repainting your timber windows completely, you may be able to take care of small chips or scratches yourself, to increase the time needed between professional treatments. 

Scratches or chips should be re-painted or re-stained as soon as you see them – any marks in the frame may expose the timber to moisture.

  • Lightly brush down the area with a sheet of fine abrasive paper.
  • Wipe down the frame to remove all dust and dirt.
  • Use a timber filler to fill any chips or cracks and create a smooth surface.
  • Check the instructions for your filler – make sure you leave enough drying time before you continue with the next steps.
  • If required, brush down the area with a light sandpaper to smooth any bumps and dust off the area with a dry cloth.
  • Depending on your colour choice or the type of timber used, you may need to apply a primer and/or undercoat.
  • Re-apply your paint or stain using the instructions above, allowing time for each layer to dry thoroughly.

If your windows are passed their best and you require replacements, we have a wonderful selection of timber windows and JELD-WEN windows. Browse our range and get in touch with our knowledgeable team to find out more. 

Timber Windows:

Opening Hours:

Monday – Friday: 8:30–5pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed


01205 363 999


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With our expert advice, we can help you find the best style for your property all whilst you benefit from modern high performance and security advancements. Enquire about your bespoke windows today!