Crittall windows – everything you need to know about steel frames

Crittall windows – everything you need to know about steel frames

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

Only windows made by Crittall Windows Limited can legally be called Crittall. 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?

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, and work brilliantly in extensions or orangery ideas like this one.

Crittall windows

(Image credit: Crittall)

Steel looks good, but is it practical?

Modern steel windows are double glazed and thermally efficient to meet the latest building standards. Fire-rated Crittall doors are also available.

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.

crittall doors and steel windows with wooden chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

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?

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.

kitchen cabinet with crittall windows and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Veronica Rodriguez)

How much do Crittall windows cost?

Priced at about £2,700 per sq m, authentic steel Crittall windows don't come cheap, but will create an instant high-end look in your home. For those on a tighter budget aluminium Crittall doors do exist, and although they're not the same quality, they are much more cost-effective and have quicker lead times, which impacts less on the building schedule.

Where should I buy Crittall windows or steel framed windows?

Crittall windows can only be purchased from Crittall Windows Ltd. However, for alternatives you can 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.

Where can I buy cheaper alternatives to Crittall windows?

If it's the distinctive design you're after, seek out companies that specialise in steel replacement windows made from thermal aluminium. Try Jennyfields for similar horizontal glazing bars, solid lock panels and fasteners.

New tech means aluminium frames are becoming thinner, too – Express Bi-folding Doors has a range with vertical profiles or just 30mm wide. Plus, for standard openings, aluminium exterior door sets are widely available 'off-the-peg' from builders' merchants, which is far cheaper than buying bespoke.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.