Maintenance of traditional buildings

Windows and doors

The repair of traditional windows and doors is often a better and cheaper alternative to wholesale replacement. Draughty and ill-fitting windows and doors often only need stripping of old paint layers. For reducing noise and draughts, secondary glazing and draught proofing are very effective alternatives to sealed unit double glazing.

Traditional window designs are fundamental to the character of local buildings. When replacement windows are installed these should match the original designs. Modern top hung night vents and large sheets of fixed glazing are rarely appropriate. Timber windows and doors are generally appropriate.

Modern framing materials such as UPVC and aluminium do not look the same as timber, and generally have poor environmental consequences.


Paint is the traditional finish for external joinery, although native hardwoods such as oak (which is naturally durable) were usually left unfinished to weather naturally. Timber stains and varnishes are modern introductions, and need to be chosen with care to avoid inappropriate colours and finishes.


The re-pointing of stone walling and brickwork should always be undertaken with great care, as the visual character of a building or boundary wall can be destroyed by ill-advised work. Hard cement-rich mortars and raised ribbon pointing should be avoided. Rubbing with hessian bags or brushing is the traditional finish for mortar joints in the District, rather than finishing with a trowel.

Roughcast render on stone buildings is a traditional finish, and should usually be retained where existing. Removal of render finishes can expose poor quality porous stone to unacceptable weathering. External finishes of this kind were often an essential part of the original architectural concept and, in this case, should be retained or restored wherever possible.

Stone or brick walling should not usually be painted as this can trap moisture and lead to damage of the walling materials, as well as resulting in dramatic visual alteration.

For further design advice, please contact a member of the Conservation and Design team.

West Oxfordshire District Council
New Yatt Road
OX28 1PB