Living in a listed building is a unique experience that comes with its own set of responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is the careful preservation and maintenance of the historical features that make these homes so special. When it comes to timber windows in listed homes, maintaining the original character is of utmost importance. In this blog, we will explore the art of traditional putty pointing, its history, and why it is essential for preserving the authenticity of listed building timber windows in the UK, this is something we previously touched on while discussing the importance of installing traditional sliding sash windows 

The Art of Traditional Putty Pointing:

Traditional putty pointing is a time-honored technique used to secure and glaze windows in listed buildings. It involves using a special type of putty, which is a combination of linseed oil and whiting (a fine white powder derived from ground chalk or limestone). The putty is applied to the wooden window frame, securing the glass in place and creating an airtight seal, there is then a thick bead of putty applied that is then tooled to an angled degree, to allow water to run-off.

Historical Significance:

Traditional putty pointing has a rich history in the UK, dating back centuries. It was widely used in the construction of timber-framed windows during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The technique played a significant role in creating the iconic look of period homes, allowing very slim and elegant proportions to glazing bars in sash and casement windows.

Putty pointing can be applied to slim heritage double glazed units as well as single glazing, in a recent blog we looked at the different glazing options in heritage windows, which can be found here

Preservation of Authenticity:

For homeowners in listed buildings, preserving the original character of the property is paramount. Replacing timber windows in a like-for-like position is crucial to maintaining the authenticity of the structure. Traditional putty pointing is a key element in achieving this goal. Here’s why:

  1. Aesthetic Authenticity: Traditional putty pointing helps maintain the traditional appearance of the windows. The glazing putty blends seamlessly with the window frame, creating a cohesive look that honors the building’s history.
  2. Historical Accuracy: Many planning authorities in the UK require that replacements in listed buildings match the original materials and techniques. Traditional putty pointing is consistent with these guidelines and ensures historical accuracy.
  3. Durability: While modern alternatives may offer convenience, traditional putty pointing stands the test of time. It has been proven to provide lasting support for the glass and structural integrity of the window.
  4. Environmentally Friendly: Traditional putty is made from natural materials, making it an eco-friendly choice. Its longevity reduces the need for frequent replacements, reducing waste and energy consumption.

Preservation Challenges:

While traditional putty pointing is highly regarded for its authenticity, it does come with challenges. Over time, putty can become brittle and degrade, leading to issues like draughts, water ingress, and heat loss. in recent years there have been several advances in the material choice for linseed putty, modern compounds such as Hodgsons Heritage Putty and Tourpets Glazing putty offer the safe appearance as traditional linseed putty, but with the advantage of reduced drying times that allows decoration to be applied a lot quicker, while maintaining the putty pointed look.

To address these challenges, regular maintenance is essential. Re-puttying windows and ensuring proper upkeep can help listed homeowners enjoy the benefits of traditional putty pointing while avoiding potential issues.


Preserving the historical charm and character of listed building timber windows is a significant undertaking. Traditional putty pointing offers a reliable and authentic solution for homeowners looking to maintain the authenticity of their properties. By understanding its historical significance and embracing its benefits, you can ensure your listed home stands the test of time while making a positive contribution to the environment. Remember to prioritize regular maintenance to enjoy the beauty and durability of this time-honored technique.

If you live in a listed property and would like to discuss replacing your traditional timber windows then please contact us to discuss

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