Wood or uPVC sash windows – comparing the life-time cost

Sash windows in Bedfordshire

sliding sash windows.

Divide the purchase cost of sash windows by the number of years they will be usable for, and you’ll find that in the grand scheme of things, they don’t cost all that much – regardless of what they are made from. However, there are differences to be aware of between wood and UPVC sash windows, if you are concerned about life-time cost.

Purchase cost

UPVC sash windows cost less than wood sash windows. To give you an example, you could replace a wooden sash window with a UPVC unit for around £800, while a like-for-like timber unit would cost nearer £1,600. This means that you could, theoretically, purchase and install two UPVC sash windows for the price of a single wooden one with the right deal.


Many Victorian-era properties still have their original wooden sash windows, which is proof that if looked after, wooden windows can last a lifetime. In comparison, UPVC windows are not rated for nearly as long by the manufacturer’s themselves. For instance, most sash windows have a 10-year guarantee on the frame and mechanisms. If these crack or break, it will cost more to put them right than with wood, which can be reworked and spliced.


Wooden sash windows should be periodically re-painted and re-sealed to ensure that the wooden frames are weather-proof so that they do not rot. UPVC windows meanwhile need no maintenance whatsoever, except for the odd clean. The long-term maintenance cost of wood windows, then, is higher than that of UPVC windows. Most people re-paint their wooden sash windows every few years and check the seals around the windows every year.


Lastly, it’s important to remember that double-glazed windows are always more efficient than their single-glazed counterparts. So, efficiency savings are possible if you’ll be replacing single-glazed windows with double-glazed windows – regardless of material. With regards to the UPVC versus wood debate, both types of sash window can be as efficient as one another. The efficiency depends on the glass itself, the quality of the seals and the u-value.

So, which windows have a lower lifetime cost?

UPVC windows have a lower life-time cost than wooden windows. However, due to their longer lifespan, wooden sash windows run their UPVC counterparts very close. For this reason, it may be worth considering wooden sash windows despite their higher purchase cost. Wooden sash windows are as efficient as UPVC windows and are a traditional choice, making them the best option for period properties.