Crittall windows – everything you need to know about steel frames

A timeless and long-lasting choice, black steel-frames are growing in popularity. Here's why!

What’s black, timeless, super-chic and shows no sign of waning in popularity? Steel-framed windows – or to give them their proper name – Crittall windows.

Originally developed in 1884 by Essex ironmonger Francis Henry Crittall, they were first manufactured in the UK in 1889.

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Only windows made by Crittall Windows Limited can legally be called Critall. However, rightly or wrongly, the term is often used in a general way to refer to black steel-framed windows.

Do all properties suit Crittall windows?

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Image credit: Colin Poole

Crittall windows have been associated with Art Deco and Modernist movements in early 20th Century architecture. You’ll see them in many notable buildings across the UK, including the Houses of Parliament and Tower of London.

That said, they’ll suit most styles of property, from Victorian semis to new-build townhouses.

Steel looks good, but 
is it practical?

Crittall-windows-need-to-know

Image credit: Colin Poole

Modern steel windows are 
double glazed and thermally efficient to meet the latest building standards. Like all windows, 
they will benefit from regular cleaning – just ask your window cleaner to wipe down the frames 
at the same time as the glass.

A quick annual lubrication of hinges, pivots, handles, stays 
and catches will help ensure 
they stay in good working order.

Will Crittall windows rust?

Manufacturing techniques vary, but the most popular modern option is to galvanise the steel frames in a hot dip, then apply 
a polyester powder coating to protect against rust. Most new steel windows won’t need to be re-painted for at least 20 years.

Are Crittall windows secure?

Unlike a single pane of glass, the multi-framed design of steel windows and doors makes it harder to gain entry by smashing the glass.

Many manufacturers offer extra security via multi-point bolts on windows and security mortice deadlocks on doors. 
Also look for Secured by Design certification. This means they have passed strict standards 
and tests set by the police service.

Can I get original Crittall windows restored?

Kitchen-diner

Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez

A huge number of Crittall windows installed in the Thirties, and some even earlier, are still in use. If you’re lucky enough to have originals, it is possible to have them overhauled on site with minimal disruption.

Services range from basic ‘ease and adjusting’ for smooth opening and closing, to a full refurb. For 
a really thorough job, they can be removed and restored in a steel workshop – hopefully to last another 80 years.

Where should I buy Crittall windows?

Search online for a certified member of the Steel Window Association near you. This trade organisation offers lots of information and is happy to answer questions.

‘We recommend products that are made from recycled steel and fully recyclable themselves, as well as being slim, strong and durable,’ says the association’s spokesperson, Darren Lloyd.

Related: Replacement windows – everything you need to know

Fabco offers steel frames in a huge palette based on the RAL colour system as standard or, for an additional fee, you can colour match frames to any shade your heart desires.

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