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Batainte

Timber frame windows on a 70x12 good idea?

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Hello everyone,

quite a long one, so TLDR for this reason is down below.

 

Been a long time lurker and have acquired a wealth of knowledge on here over the past years which has led to starting a project of my own.

 

Recently embarked on a 70x12 liveaboard which was fabricated from scratch and is at a "soon-to-be delivered" stage. Therefore making everything watertight whilst reducing condensation and heat loss to bare minimum is an essential part of the project. Apart from windows, the vessel will also have skylights so quite a few holes to cover. This being a new build and intended for full- time living, therefore it is important to choose the most efficient option for windows and actual frames as well as considering their potential pros and cons of future performance, maintenance, cost effectiveness, etc. This is where my knowledge is limited only to onshore dwellings where its common to find either uPVC or timber frame units. As other users on Canalworld have shared their existing skylights- the said two dog/ pigeon boxes most likely will be fabricated in mahogany sapele using double glazed glass for insulation purposes. This leaves the decision on window frames in a great limbo.

 

So far have explored various options for window frames- uPVC (great heat insulator, but doesnt look appealing), aluminum frames with thermal break (currently seems to be the optimal standard), but never seen anyone share about timber frame windows.

For premium comfort, when planning for a newbuild onshore one would choose timber frame windows, whether the budget allows paying the premium price in comparison to regular plastic uPVC. Apart from aesthetical reasons, timber frame windows have higher insulation than steel or aluminium, they also have increased "breathability" factor this allows for an indoor air exchange thus improving on air quality (it doesnt get stuffy stale air compared to uPVC windows), this can be observed especially during autumn/ winter months.

 

Initially, due to reasons above was leaning more towards timber frame units (either oak or mahogany sapele) to be used on the boat instead of aluminum with thermal break, however i have no real life experience with these on boats. Big concern is condensation and moisture buildup between the steel plate, battens and window frames itself. It would be a shame to invest in something of high value just to have everything torn out and repair in a few years time becouse certain aspects were not taken into account.

 

Does anybody have timber frame windows on their canalboats, do you have any issues with them not lasting what they are meant to, any other issues, would any expert boaters actually suggest going down this potentially risky route etc...? Perhaps someone has changed their windows from aluminium to wood or vice versa- did you notice any difference?

 

Thanks for taking your time.

 

 

 

 

TLDR;

 

70x12 newbuild, potentially installing timber frame windows throughout, however unsure of their performance or any potential condensation buildup between steel plate, battens and window frames themselves.

 

Does anybody have experience with these?

Perhaps changed their windows from aluminium to wood or vice versa- did you notice any difference?

 

Aluminium vs. Wood frames?

Any comments, suggestions...

Edited by Batainte

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15 minutes ago, Batainte said:

they also have increased "breathability" factor this allows for an indoor air exchange thus improving on air quality (it doesnt get stuffy stale air compared to uPVC windows), this can be observed especially during autumn/ winter months.

 

 

I can't see that the difference of air permeability of wooden or uPVC window frames will make any difference at all. The presence or otherwise of stale air is down to how much ventilation of the cabin space is provided.

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Point taken.

Nevertheless, the reason for leaning towards timber frame windows is due to their insulating properties as well as the potential of lasting longer than average windows.

Besides that, an acquaintance of mine is a joiner so this could come in handy as well.

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4 minutes ago, Batainte said:

Point taken.

Nevertheless, the reason for leaning towards timber frame windows is due to their insulating properties as well as the potential of lasting longer than average windows.

Besides that, an acquaintance of mine is a joiner so this could come in handy as well.

From what I have read you may have more problems keeping a good seal between the wood and steel as they expand at different rates with heat and moisture. I don't think I would do it.

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23 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

From what I have read you may have more problems keeping a good seal between the wood and steel as they expand at different rates with heat and moisture. I don't think I would do it.

True also.

However the timber frame expands and contracts in regular homes on average of 1-4 mm (depending on the location ofcourse) during different seasons/ weather conditions. This can be especially be observed at periods of high humidity when closing a timber door or windows whilst it catches the bottom frame itself due to having absorbed more moisture.

 

If using proper quality mastic sealant when installing the frames, in theory it should minimise this effect.

 

Wouldn't aluminium and steel expand/ contract at different rates as well as they are different metals?

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Decent hardwood Windows won't provide you with any real savings in the short term but will certainly need regular maintenance to keep them looking acceptable. I think the best method of proceeding is to remember that all boats are eventually for sale. Bearing that in mind anything hat makes the boat out of the ordinary will seriously detract from the value.

To my eye the only place where wooden windows are a visual success are Dutch barges. There is a thread on here entitled "leaking Skylights" have a look at that before ordering up the roof lights/ dog boxes, there are a some very poor but expensive designs out there.

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Brass portholes seem the obvious choice to me.

 

 

But surely fitting brass portholes to a fugly is a waste of good portholes ? 😀

 

..................Dave

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Brass portholes seem the obvious choice to me.

 

 

Was aware only of aluminum frame, what would be the difference in the performance between them?

Would you know of any decent manufacturers?

1 hour ago, Mike Jordan said:

Decent hardwood Windows won't provide you with any real savings in the short term but will certainly need regular maintenance to keep them looking acceptable. I think the best method of proceeding is to remember that all boats are eventually for sale. Bearing that in mind anything hat makes the boat out of the ordinary will seriously detract from the value.

To my eye the only place where wooden windows are a visual success are Dutch barges. There is a thread on here entitled "leaking Skylights" have a look at that before ordering up the roof lights/ dog boxes, there are a some very poor but expensive designs out there.

A proud owner of your book ;)

Will be using the blueprints to fabricate the roof lights.

Its important to maintain the vessels' resale value, was actually theorizing that wood frame barge style windows in mahognay sapele would actually make a great look and add value as a result.

Been following "Leaking skylights", it appears that condensation is an enemy that cant be avoided.

 

Edited by Batainte

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26 minutes ago, Batainte said:

it appears that condensation is an enemy that cant be avoided.

 

Condensation is best reduced by adequate ventilation. You breath, you will cook and boil kettles for warm drinks, all will produce water vapour, unless this is ventilated out, you will get condensation.

This is not just a problem for boats, many modern houses have issues with condenstion, even to the extent of causing mould, mainly due to the occupants living in them not allowing enough ventilation, even though there is provision, they keep vents shut to keep in the warmth, but are making themselves damp problems

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1 hour ago, Batainte said:

Was aware only of aluminum frame, what would be the difference in the performance between them?

 

I'm with Dave on this. Stuff the performance, looks are paramount and trump everything!

 

'Windows' on a boat look ridiculous in my personal opinion, portholes look the part. 

 

CP-014-1575953777.jpg

https://www.midlandchandlers.co.uk/products/porthole-ph5-11-9-16-14-1-2-11-brass-cp-014

 

 

 

 

  • Greenie 1

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I have wooden windows, roof lights and wheelhouse and as you can see that is a lot of wood. The boat is now more than 12 years old and the windows are still perfectly ok, The back doors have had some repairs, the two pigeon boxes/roof lights/dog boxes whatever you like to call them have been renewed last year. BUT the boat has vertical cabin sides so the water drains quite readily. The front cabin windows open, the rear cabin windows have opening tops, everything opens as it was built for hot weather in France. I would not recommend wooden windows on sloping sides at all, Lord knows what that lot would cost if you had them made  by someone and especially as they all open. I made them from a job lot of brown hardwood of unknown species so it was really cheap (roof lights are recycled oak) everything gets repainted every couple of years in Sikkens expensive wood stuff and its not a huge job but it is definitely necessary.  If you have sloping sides I really, really would not bother with timber. There are ways of doing it but even so the maintainance is  ongoing and you will have quite enough to do anyway. Would I do it that way again? On that boat yes, on a boat with sloping sides? No.

111793216_2008-06-1612_52_18.jpg.5e7b042ca0ab872abd101703b88b94fa.jpg

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2 hours ago, Detling said:

Condensation is best reduced by adequate ventilation. You breath, you will cook and boil kettles for warm drinks, all will produce water vapour, unless this is ventilated out, you will get condensation.

This is not just a problem for boats, many modern houses have issues with condenstion, even to the extent of causing mould, mainly due to the occupants living in them not allowing enough ventilation, even though there is provision, they keep vents shut to keep in the warmth, but are making themselves damp problems

Making a passive boat would be a great idea.

Although its another power-hungry device, wouldn't a proper de-humidifier dramatically reduce the amount of condensation given there is an ongoing access to power?  How about 3M strips?

 

1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I'm with Dave on this. Stuff the performance, looks are paramount and trump everything!

 

'Windows' on a boat look ridiculous in my personal opinion, portholes look the part. 

 

CP-014-1575953777.jpg

https://www.midlandchandlers.co.uk/products/porthole-ph5-11-9-16-14-1-2-11-brass-cp-014

 

 

 

 

Cheerio

 

1 hour ago, Bee said:

I have wooden windows, roof lights and wheelhouse and as you can see that is a lot of wood. The boat is now more than 12 years old and the windows are still perfectly ok, The back doors have had some repairs, the two pigeon boxes/roof lights/dog boxes whatever you like to call them have been renewed last year. BUT the boat has vertical cabin sides so the water drains quite readily. The front cabin windows open, the rear cabin windows have opening tops, everything opens as it was built for hot weather in France. I would not recommend wooden windows on sloping sides at all, Lord knows what that lot would cost if you had them made  by someone and especially as they all open. I made them from a job lot of brown hardwood of unknown species so it was really cheap (roof lights are recycled oak) everything gets repainted every couple of years in Sikkens expensive wood stuff and its not a huge job but it is definitely necessary.  If you have sloping sides I really, really would not bother with timber. There are ways of doing it but even so the maintainance is  ongoing and you will have quite enough to do anyway. Would I do it that way again? On that boat yes, on a boat with sloping sides? No.

111793216_2008-06-1612_52_18.jpg.5e7b042ca0ab872abd101703b88b94fa.jpg

Looks like a nice setup.

Although i wouldnt mind retreating the frames every now and then as a small day project during the summer (accepting it as a part of boating lifestyle), the biggest concern is the fact that steel is a great conductor and having timber frame windows may impact their life in longterm, especially without having proper thermal break options.

Have you done any internal refit around the windows since owning her?

Some time ago was doing work on a 1990 41ft narrowboat where it was stripped down to bare steel around the windows (made of aluminum frame), the holding frame and battens around had plenty of damage on them- some even holding so much moisture it could actually be squeezed out (despite having no evidence of this on interior wall linings) see the pictures below. When stripping everything off and removing old ply holding frame from steelwork, where the wood sat was totally damp on the plate itself- leaving a wet imprint in the shape of the wood piece on the wall Perhaps back in the days they didnt have high performing sealants/ paints available on the market to improve on waterproofing, but seeing the state of holding frame/ battens underneath everything was the main reason for reconsidering the original idea of having wood frame windows and posting on here.

 

 

1.gif

2.gif

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5 hours ago, Batainte said:

the said two dog/ pigeon boxes most likely will be fabricated in mahogany sapele using double glazed glass for insulation purposes.

Consider using Utile instead of Sapele. It’s not much more expensive and gives a superior finish. Better still would be Iroko but the price reflects that. 

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34 minutes ago, Batainte said:

Although its another power-hungry device, wouldn't a proper de-humidifier dramatically reduce the amount of condensation given there is an ongoing access to power?

Is this going to be a 'cruising boat' or a 'floating (non-moving) flat ?

 

If you are on a permanent mooring with 230v hook-up then a de-humidifier is a no-brainer.

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1 hour ago, WotEver said:

Consider using Utile instead of Sapele. It’s not much more expensive and gives a superior finish. Better still would be Iroko but the price reflects that. 

Thanks, was under the impression that when it comes to timber choices then sapele is used as a standard on canalboats. At least wheelhouses and pigeon boxes usually are made of this material. Iroko or teak would definitely be the best option due to its composition, but these probably suit more on yachts costing over 6 figures.

 

56 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Is this going to be a 'cruising boat' or a 'floating (non-moving) flat ?

 

If you are on a permanent mooring with 230v hook-up then a de-humidifier is a no-brainer.

It is going to be a continuous cruiser, with a generator, solar system and largish battery pack. Never actually used a de-humidifier in life, but would it suffice in reducing any internal condensation to minimum and how long would it need to be running for to perform well?

 

1 hour ago, Murflynn said:

After learning more about this topic, it appears that it would best to fit aluminum ones, and was thinking about double glazed with thermal break system.

 

 

So far found that Channel Glaze and Caldwells are what most of community talks about - would anyone know what their primary differences would be?

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Still all original on the inside, it is painted t&g, no rot but I reckon that the paint could well cover a bit of staining, As for treating the wood etc. it is constant, last summer the decks and cabin roof(s) were painted, this summer its all the burgundy paint and some black stuff on the hull above the waterline and next year I suppose it could be back on dock again, every summer there is a bit of cracking of the Sikkens stain stuff to fix and so it goes on - and on and on. Oh and the Vacuflush needs a damn good sort out and there's that odd electrical problem .......

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8 minutes ago, Batainte said:

Thanks, was under the impression that when it comes to timber choices then sapele is used as a standard on canalboats. At least wheelhouses and pigeon boxes usually are made of this material.

Utile looks very similar to Sapele but is a little more expensive. It mills and finishes better than Sapele. You’d be hard pushed to immediately be able to tell if something was made of Sapele or Utile. That dog box shown in the ‘leaking skylight’ thread was made from Utile. Having said that, Utile is lighter and softer than Sapele so for something that’s going to get knocked and bashed about, like say a wheelhouse, Sapele might be a better choice. 

http://thompsonmahogany.com/african-mahogany-vs-sapele-vs-utile/

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20 minutes ago, Batainte said:

It is going to be a continuous cruiser, with a generator, solar system and largish battery pack. Never actually used a de-humidifier in life, but would it suffice in reducing any internal condensation to minimum and how long would it need to be running for to perform well?

Yes it will work and will reduce (potentially to almost nothing) the condensation.

 

You will need to work out the volume of the boat and buy a de-humidifier suitable for that volume.

In the Autumn / Winter you may well need to run it 24/7

 

Have you undertaken a power-audit so you know what size battery bank you will need, and what you will need to produce to re-charge the batteries.

Edited by Alan de Enfield

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Each time their own but to me wooden window frames on steel boats look out of place and given the choice I would never have wooden frames on a house. Even really good hardwood frames need  staining or oiling every couple of years. 
 

double glazed units are they way to go for sure amazing how long it’s taken for them to become normal on new build canal boats

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There was a bit of boat wisdom a few years ago (appears to all be getting lost recently), minimise the amount of external wood on a narrowboat, do as much as possible in steel. Mebe it don't apply on widebeams cus they are more like 'ouses?

 

................Dave

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20 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Yes it will work and will reduce (potentially to almost nothing) the condensation.

 

You will need to work out the volume of the boat and buy a de-humidifier suitable for that volume.

In the Autumn / Winter you may well need to run it 24/7

 

Have you undertaken a power-audit so you know what size battery bank you will need, and what you will need to produce to re-charge the batteries.

Solar in winter can produce nothing some days and a tiny bit of power on others, everything else has to be generated by burning fuel which gets expensive a kilowatt hour from the electricity grid will be around 15p from diesel or petrol nearer to £1.00. Charging batteries in winter is expensive so use as little power as possible.

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1 hour ago, Detling said:

Solar in winter can produce nothing some days and a tiny bit of power on others, everything else has to be generated by burning fuel which gets expensive a kilowatt hour from the electricity grid will be around 15p from diesel or petrol nearer to £1.00. Charging batteries in winter is expensive so use as little power as possible.

And, unfortunately, is the time of highest demands on power long dark, cold nights, (heating , TV, computers, charging things, lights, etc)

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On 23/02/2020 at 19:06, Bee said:

I have wooden windows, roof lights and wheelhouse and as you can see that is a lot of wood. The boat is now more than 12 years old and the windows are still perfectly ok, The back doors have had some repairs, the two pigeon boxes/roof lights/dog boxes whatever you like to call them have been renewed last year. BUT the boat has vertical cabin sides so the water drains quite readily. The front cabin windows open, the rear cabin windows have opening tops, everything opens as it was built for hot weather in France. I would not recommend wooden windows on sloping sides at all, Lord knows what that lot would cost if you had them made  by someone and especially as they all open. I made them from a job lot of brown hardwood of unknown species so it was really cheap (roof lights are recycled oak) everything gets repainted every couple of years in Sikkens expensive wood stuff and its not a huge job but it is definitely necessary.  If you have sloping sides I really, really would not bother with timber. There are ways of doing it but even so the maintainance is  ongoing and you will have quite enough to do anyway. Would I do it that way again? On that boat yes, on a boat with sloping sides? No.

111793216_2008-06-1612_52_18.jpg.5e7b042ca0ab872abd101703b88b94fa.jpg

very "jaunty"

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