This is a question we are asked often in our business. Which is why we decided to write down the difference these two materials and with that hopefully help you make the right decision for your home.
Over the years the reputation of PVC Windows has suffered a lot. This is due to the fact that manufacturers used as little material as possible to keep the costs down, which in turn made for very unreliable windows. To combat the short lifespan and host of other issues these windows brought with them manufacturers decided to reinvent themselves. First they had to switch over to uPVC a better alternative material. The biggest difference between the two materials is that uPV is unplasticized which makes it more rigid and non-toxic. A few other benefits of uPVC include :
Several manufacturers, specifically in the European Tilt-and-Turn window technology decided to add steel reinforcements to their window frames and sashes. This adds more stability to the frame, allowing the manufacturer to build bigger windows without running into problems of warping or bending. Another benefit of these reinforcements is that they add a layer of security, making it much harder for burglars to pry or drill a window open. Not only is uPVC now being used in windows alone, but it has also found its way into Lift-and-slide patio doors, roller shutters and entrance doors. However it does still pose limitation to certain sizes. That’s where aluminum comes in.
This material is strong, lightweight and durable. Aluminum is great for extra large openings in windows, Lift-and-slide patio doors and entrance doors. However aluminum is also a much better conductor of energy, which means it attracts both cold and heat a lot more. Many manufacturers use aluminum therefore only for commercial spaces where this fact is not important. But there is a new style of aluminum windows and doors that has entered the market which has resolved this issue for residential homes. These new type of aluminum frames are thermally divided into two parts with a vinyl insert between them. Since vinyl is a bad conductor this helps keep the energy apart from the inside and outside. Some manufacturers have even gone as far as injecting the vinyl mold with foam to add another layer of protection and thus helping in keeping the u-Value in windows and doors low. Other benefits of aluminum include:
For many years aluminum frames used to be only available in an anodized finished that looked very industrial. But innovation and development over the last ten years has introduced a few new finishes for this material. Once in particular very popular is a powder coat finish. Not only does this finish look great, it also protects the aluminum, thus leaving it looking good for many more years. The powder coat finish also opens the option of different unique finishes either in a smooth or rougher surface as well as a real wood look.
As you can see from this article both materials have much to offer. In the end it is really up to the home owner what makes sense to them personally. There is a price difference between uPVC and aluminium also, with aluminum being on the higher end. Then there is also the fact of sizing which is limited when it comes to uPVC. But all in all both materials are great to use for your windows and doors and you will enjoy either of them for many years to come.