Vinyl vs Aluminum Windows

Vinyl vs Aluminum Windows

Comparing vinyl and aluminum windows? We've got you covered in this post. We'll compare vinyl vs aluminum windows so that you understand the differences between these vastly different window materials before you decide on a product for your home. 

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Window Construction: How do vinyl and aluminum windows compare?

Vinyl window sashes and frames are constructed with polyvinyl chloride or PVC, a type of plastic. These windows sometimes have an internal metal structure for more strength and often include parts made of other materials but overall "vinyl windows" are primarily made of vinyl. One of the biggest reasons vinyl windows are so popular is because they are much more energy efficient than aluminum windows. Vinyl windows with multi-chamber design are better at insulating and stronger than single chamber vinyl windows. 

Aluminum is a type of metal that is easy to make into frames. It's also resistant against corrosion, lightweight, and durable. Aluminum windows were extremely popular before vinyl windows took off. To compete against vinyl windows aluminum window makers had to find ways to make the windows more energy efficient. If you're looking for aluminum windows make sure to choose aluminum windows with a thermal break. The thermal break is a non-metal insulating divider between inside and outside aluminum halves. In most cases these windows still won't meet energy requirements in the South but make sure to read NFRC label ratings before purchasing your windows. 

Aesthetics or Curb Appeal: Do vinyl windows look better than aluminum windows?

Vinyl and aluminum both have limitations but aluminum windows are typically available in more color options than vinyl. Aluminum windows are also known for being available in thinner frame profiles. Although aluminum is a lightweight metal it's strong and can hold the weight of large sheets of glass. The thin frame profile is one of the most attractive features of aluminum windows. Vinyl windows typically have thicker frames but manufacturers have been able to create slimmer vinyl window frames to achieve a similar look.

Durability: Are aluminum windows more durable than vinyl windows?

Aluminum and vinyl windows can both work well for decades. According to HomeAdvisor, vinyl windows usually last for about 20 to 40 years, and aluminum windows last for 20 to 30 years. With proper maintenance and construction, you can enjoy your windows even longer.

Vinyl windows don’t transfer as much heat as aluminum windows, so they can help you save money on utility bills. However, lower quality vinyl windows have been known to warp over time. This can also lead to drafts if they expand and contract when the temperature changes. The sun can fade darker vinyl windows, and they can absorb more heat than lighter colors, making your utility bills higher in summer. The best vinyl windows have metal reinforcements to increase their strength and make them less likely to warp.

Aluminum and vinyl are both vulnerable to scratches and dents, but according to Bob Vila↗, this issue is more likely with aluminum. Fortunately, you can repaint these windows to hide most scratches. Watch for corrosion if your aluminum or vinyl windows have steel or zinc fasteners or any other metal parts. You should replace these parts if you notice rust or rust stains nearby.

Maintenance: Which windows require more maintenance, aluminum or vinyl?

Both of these types of windows are easy to maintain. Clean your windows by dusting the window frames and other parts often and cleaning the glass with glass cleaner. Every few months, remove the screens on your windows and rinse them off.

Energy Efficiency: Are vinyl windows more energy efficient than aluminum windows?

Since aluminum windows conduct heat more easily than vinyl windows, they’re less efficient. You should avoid them if you live in an area that’s very hot or cold for much of the year. With both materials, you can increase efficiency with double-or triple-pane windows or low-emissivity (low-E) glass. Low-E glass has a special coating to reflect heat and ultraviolet light.

Availability: Is it easier to buy aluminum or vinyl windows?

Vinyl windows are more widely available than aluminum windows. You can get aluminum windows from NT Window or Ply Gem. Andersen makes aluminum-clad wooden windows. The availability of aluminum windows in your area will also depend on which area of the country you live in. Vinyl windows can be found anywhere.

The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows

Vinyl windows are energy-efficient and low-maintenance. However, they’re not available in as many shapes, colors, and designs as aluminum windows.

Pros of Vinyl Windows
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Affordability
  • Low Maintenance
  • Large Selection
  • Outstanding Warranties
Cons of Vinyl Windows
  • Less Variety in Colors & Styles
  • Reputation for Looking Cheap

The Pros and Cons of Aluminum Windows

Aluminum is less expensive than vinyl, and it comes in a variety of colors and styles. You can also repaint aluminum windows if you want to repair a scratch or try a new color.

Pros of Aluminum Windows
  • Affordability
  • Durability
  • Maintenance
  • Lightweight
  • Long-Lasting
Cons of Aluminum Windows
  • High U-Value
  • Condensation
  • Corrosion

Whether you’re constructing a new home or just making some changes to your existing house, vinyl and aluminum windows are both great choices. For more information checkout our related articles below.

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     -Bobby

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