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Differences Between Aluminum & Vinyl Windows

Homeowners who are thinking about updating their windows have more choices in materials, finishing, and style today than ever before...

There are many things to consider, such as energy efficiency, price, availability and style. While in the past homes in Canada were constructed with mainly wooden windows—and character homes or older homes can still be found with these enchanting features—vinyl and aluminum windows have become a popular choice for new installations and replacements.

Both aluminum and vinyl are naturally more durable, lower-maintenance, and less expensive than wood. 




What Exactly Are Aluminum Windows and Vinyl Windows Made Of? 

Aluminum windows consist of aluminum, while vinyl windows consist of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

While there are pros and cons of each type of window material, it is ultimately up to you to decide on what works for you and your home. These six areas are where the biggest distinctions between the two materials appear and where you’ll most likely find the information you need to decide which is right for your home project. 


When it comes to vinyl window frames vs. aluminum frames, there are many similarities on paper. Both offer a wide range of colors and finishes and are readily available in nearly any window design you could need (i.e., single-hung, double-hung, single-pane, multi-pane, etc.).
However, off-paper and in real life, these two frame material options look quite different. Aluminum windows are generally thin-framed, so most of the window is the glass pane. On the other hand, vinyl windows usually mimic traditional window frame features, though they come in a wide variety of colors and finishes so you can get a traditional style with a modern color.
If a conventional wood-grain look is what you are after, vinyl is a clear winner. While aluminum windows can be coated to look like wood, they do not quite achieve the convincing look that vinyl can.



Both options are durable, especially when compared to conventional wood frames. Aluminum tends to visibly chip or dent. In other words, if an aluminum window frame gets damaged, you are going to notice it. If vinyl window frames are damaged in the same way, you’re unlikely to see the chips or dents because the materials are consistent throughout.

Aluminum also faces corrosion and fading, whereas vinyl doesn’t. However, aluminum is the stronger window material option of the two. It has a higher impact ratio but can becoming frosty in extreme cold and does not insulate as well as vinyl in the colder months. Vinyl windows can survive in most weather conditions but might not fare as well as aluminum windows in extreme heat, as it can break down faster then if they are in a shady area. 



Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance-free when they’re installed properly. Aluminum windows are low maintenance, but they do require regular upkeep. Aluminum is prone to condensation, and extra moisture leads to rust and mold.

For that reason, aluminum windows need to be cleaned with an aluminum cleaner regularly. It’s also essential to keep the moving parts lubricated because aluminum windows tend to corrode and rust over time. 




Vinyl windows are the way to go If energy-efficiency and insulation are priorities for your project. Energy-savings or efficiency is one of the primary advantages of vinyl window frames. They’re incredibly effective at reducing heat transfer (heat loss) and light penetration and regulating a room’s internal temperature.

Alternatively, aluminum frames and sashes can actually conduct heat and warm up a room. Some thermally improved aluminum materials can help with energy loss, but they tend to cost quite a bit more.



The cost of new windows is typically one of the most important aspects that a home or building owner cares about. So which material is more affordable?
Vinyl windows cost significantly less than aluminum windows. On average, they cost between 33-58% less. Manufacturer, quality and additional features can all contribute to cost variations. However, when it comes to aluminum vs. vinyl window prices, vinyl wins the race. 



Both vinyl and aluminum windows should be installed by a professional. The keen-DIYer can do it themselves, but they risk making installation errors that diminish the advantages of the windows.

Vinyl is easier to install due to its flexibility. It tends to contract and expand and be much simpler to work with. Aluminum is not flexible so if the window’s fit is off by even a fraction of an inch, the window will not fit as it should. Aluminum’s inflexibility usually leads to a much more tedious and time-consuming installation process for professionals. 

With some of these points to consider, it is highly recommended to get professional advice along with learning more on the topic before making your decision or purchase. 




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