Aluminum vs. Vinyl Windows

Confused over aluminum vs. vinyl windows for your home? Not sure about what the differences between aluminum vs. vinyl windows are or what the pros and cons are of each? Discover how these two frame choices stack up against one another.

“Aluminum vs. vinyl windows – both offer lots of design options, but if you are looking for large expansive panes of glass, aluminum may be a better choice. However, when it comes to energy efficiency, vinyl wins by a long shot.”

Aluminum vs. Vinyl Windows On Energy Efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency, vinyl windows win hands down over aluminum windows. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat and cold and can conduct heat about 1000 times faster than vinyl. This may be good for some things, but is not necessarily good for windows. There are ways to make aluminum frames into more energy efficient models, such as adding a thermal break barrier and selecting low-e coatings, argon fills and multi-paned glass, but even with those added features, vinyl replacement windows are the more energy efficient alternative. Aluminum windows may be in the running only if you live in a climate that is mild all year round with no temperature extremes. If you’re looking to save money on your energy bills, vinyl is probably your best bet.

Aluminum vs. Vinyl Windows Design Options

Both types of windows offer lots of design options, but if you are looking for large expansive panes of glass, aluminum may be a better choice. It is much stronger than vinyl (it’s more than three times as strong!) and allows for thin frames with large panes of glass. It is also easier to mold them into custom shapes and sizes. But, vinyl replacement windows are still available in plenty of shapes and sizes as well. The main issue you may have with aluminum windows is that since it is primarily used for commercial buildings, you will find fewer companies that offer residential options.

Cost Comparisons

Aluminum Window: $225 to $600
Learn more on aluminum windows prices.

Vinyl Window: $125 to $450
Learn more on vinyl windows price.

Install Prices: $40 to $250 (each)

Strength And Durability
When it comes to strength, nothing beats aluminum. This allows them to be made bigger and to hold larger panes of glass within smaller frames. It also adds to the security factor of the windows. But when it comes to durability, both window frames are very durable and long-lasting. They will both resist denting, rusting, scratching, swelling, cracking and corrosion due to moisture and insects. Vinyl windows can discolor over time due to prolonged sun exposure and can also warp when exposed to very high temperatures.

Noise Reduction
If noise reduction is big on your list of important features, opt for aluminum frames. They are much more effective at blocking out exterior sound because the material is much heavier and denser. Vinyl windows do not offer great noise reduction qualities.

Cost Comparisons
That depends. Each window framing material is offered by many manufacturers in different design options, as well as energy efficient options – all will affect the overall replacement window prices. In general, however, you can expect aluminum replacement windows to fall in the middle to upper end of the vinyl replacement window price spectrum. If you’re on a budget, then you can get vinyl replacement window styles that are cheaper, but they may not be as high quality.

Maintenance Requirements
Both aluminum and vinyl windows require far less maintenance than wood windows. Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance free and are usually available in a selection of stock and custom colors that you can choose from. Aluminum windows often now come with a baked-on enamel finish in a selection of colors so they require virtually no maintenance as well. The main difference is that if you want to paint aluminum windows, you can make them any color you want (but you’ll have to periodically keep repainting them), but vinyl windows can’t be painted. That means no additional upkeep, but also no option to change the color or spruce up the look of them. Both window frames are very easy to clean and require virtually no other maintenance.

The More Popular Frame
For residential installations, the market share of vinyl replacement windows has continually grown over the years while the demand for aluminum replacement windows has fallen. However, aluminum windows are the winner when it comes to commercial installations. But with newer features that make aluminum windows more attractive and energy efficient, the demand for them for residential homes may just start to increase again.

Related Topics

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Energy Star Options