Window Frames : PVC Or Aluminium?
Whether your windows are sliding, folding-sliding, fixed, casement, hung or awning, there are several types of frames on the market. Traditional wooden frames, now mainly used during heritage-friendly renovations, require a lot of maintenance.
However, they have been replaced over time by aluminum, followed by PVC, and even by hybrid frames. Since the latter are more expensive and have not yet proven their strength or durability, we will stick in this article to the most cost-effective choices: PVC and aluminium.
Choosing an aluminium frame
Aluminium is a little less popular for dressing a house with conventionally shaped windows, as its cost is slightly higher than PVC. Strong, light and durable, this material is particularly suitable for huge windows, bay windows and original designs. The aluminum frames offer an almost infinite range of colors to match all exterior finishes. Sophisticated, this frame with a clean look blends perfectly with industrial and modern style homes.
Good points for people concerned about the environment, unlike PVC, aluminum is fully recyclable, in addition to offering a durability of up to 60 years (manufacturer’s warranty extending up to 30 years).
Since aluminum has a high thermal conductivity, it is necessary to create a plastic core inside the frame or to integrate thermal pads in order to increase its insulating performance. This is why it is necessary to ensure the quality of the frames and the thermos technology used before buying them. If in doubt, do business with a professional.
PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. This material is ideal for standard windows or in the case where a house has many medium-sized windows, since it offers good value for money. Less solid and 23 times less rigid, this type of frame is struggling with structural restrictions and therefore cannot offer consumers a wide selection of sizes or shapes.
PVC frames offer more and more color choices and architectural flourishes, but not as much as its rival, aluminum. On the other hand, there is less risk of scratching it during maintenance and it is resistant to rust.
Better insulator than aluminum, the PVC frame is however more flexible.
Even if its internal alveolar composition has evolved a lot in recent years, this material still requires steel reinforcement at the level of its central structure, otherwise it is subject to deformations due to temperature variations. Its durability and proper functioning directly depends on the quality and thickness of these additions.
Just because it is an option for smaller budgets does not mean that certain criteria should be omitted. It is about your long-term investment and not only in the immediate future. On the label or by asking the supplier directly, check these statements to make sure you are making the best choice:
- 2 to 3 gaskets;
- 4 or 5 thermal insulation chambers;
- Hidden hardware and lots of closing points for security;
- 15 to 20 year warranty.
So, PVC or aluminum?
With technology and a minimum of quality, the acoustic and insulating performance of these two types of frames come together. In addition, adding double or triple glazing to your frames will ensure increased efficiency.
Choose PVC frames if:
- you don’t have fancy tastes;
- you have no special structural or design requirements;
- you are ready to investigate quality and efficiency.
Choose aluminum frames if:
- your windows are bay or oversized;
- you want a longer life;
- you are ready to invest a 15% higher amount;
- you want access to more colors and finishes.