It’s a common problem. A window gets used day in day out and after a few years becomes loose or stiff, or just won’t work at all.

But with a little thought and some key measurements window handles are actually fairly easy to swap out.

But the first thing to do is identify the type of handle you have. There are four common ones, and unless you’ve had something bespoke created for your windows you should be able to replace the handles easily.

It’s worth noting that if the handle doesn’t work well there could be a problem with the mechanism inside the window too.

Window Handles

Which Handle Do I Need?

Your window frames will clearly be made from wood, UPVC or aluminium. But the handles? They all look a bit similar don’t they? Getting the right handle is the first step in getting your handle replaced.

There are four common ones:

  • Cockspur
  • Tilt and Turn
  • Espagnolette
  • Bladed (or Spaded)

And each is usually easy to replace, provided you get the measurements right.

Cockspur Window Handles

Cockspur window handles are those often found on older UPVC and aluminium windows. The handle has a latch (known as a nose or arm) protruding from the handle. When you close the window the latch goes over a wedge on the window frame, securing the window from opening.

As well as getting the screw holes to match as closely as possible the important measurement is the distance between the latch and the handle. Called the stack height, if the distance is too small or too large the handle won’t secure the window properly.

If the screw holes and the stack height are good, getting the window replaced should be fairly quick. Fixing screws are often found under a cover on the outer of the handle and then under the handle itself once you lift it. The best way to fix the window handle is to do everything in the reverse order you removed it. And once the handle is lifted to get access to the screws keep the mechanism inside the frame in the same position until you have fixed the new one in place.

Tilt and Turn Handles

Tilt and turn handles go through a 90 degree rotation to enable the window to be moved into one of three positions – open, closed and tilt.

When you remove the handle you’ll find a spindle much like a door handle fixing that operates the window’s locking mechanisms. Espagnolette handles may look similar, because they have a spindle mechanism, but these won’t work on a tilt and turn window.

When it comes to wooden frames and UPVC frames the screws are usually a standard size – 43mm apart and the spindle will be 7mm square (although some wooden frames use an 8mm square spindle).

Matching spindle length is important too, but 38mm for a spindle is quite common in tilt and turn windows.

If you have aluminium tilt and turn handles (often used in commercial applications) it’s best to get advice from a specialist window fitter or store. The thinner nature of aluminium windows makes replacing these handles a bit different to replacing those on UPVC or timber frames

Espagnolette Window Handles

These operate using a spindle to turn the locking mechanism inside the window and are one of the most common types of window handle. Many have a standard size screw hold distance too, so changing them is straightforward.

But when replacing these you’ll need to make sure the spindle is the correct length, otherwise the window won’t work. Also make sure the handle is the right type for it’s placement. Espag handles are mostly inline, which means they are suitable for either left-hand or right-hand operation. But they are also available as cranked – so choose this if you need a specific left or right hand window handle.

Bladed Window Handles

Much like an espag handle, bladed handles have a spindle coming from inside the handle mechanism. Except on a spaded or bladed handle the spindle will be a flat, thin piece of metal. They’re often found on older windows and there are occasional circumstances where they are unique to a manufacturer and can’t be replaced by standard replacement window handles.

Blades are usually 15mm in height and 3mm thick, but the length may differ so check this to get the right type. Blades are also either flat or angled – a flat blade will come straight out of the handle, whereas an angled blade will come out of the handle angled to the left or right. Getting the wrong one could cause the blade to shatter when the handle is operated.

If In Doubt…

Most replacement window handles come with details about sizes and include all the important measurements. But if in doubt take the old handle to your local window hardware store and ask an expert.

Or send them an image via email. They will know what to get to save you a long battle with a simple window handle replacement.