See our expert buyer's guide to replacement windows
Bronze frames are a low-maintenance choice as they need nothing more than a regular wax coating to make them last and look good. Timber frames are a little more demanding and need to be rubbed down and repainted with a good-quality exterior woodwork paint every five to seven years. Older windows should be regularly checked for rot and the sash mechanisms overhauled and serviced if necessary.
Steel window frames are the easiest option as they can last 15 to 25 years without any work. Their steel frames are polyester powder coated so, with a regular wipe down, will last the life of the frame. uPVC windows are also wipe-clean but some frames can discolour in sunshine – you might want to use a specialist paint, such as Ronseal Stay White uPVC paint, to refresh them every few years. However, good-quality examples should hold their colour long-term as their lengthy warranties imply.
Finally, if you have aluminium windows, the hinges will need cleaning and oiling annually and, at the same time, it’s worth doing a general check of the handles and other jointed areas that may need oiling as well.
Before you add any extras, such as shutters, bars and grilles, read the small print. Security-related DIY might invalidate your warranty. The top firms offer their own clever security options – look out for the Secured by Design logo, which indicates that the locks meet the security requirements of this police-backed scheme; find out more at securedbydesign.com. Always check, too, that windows are tested to BS7950 enhanced security performance standard.