Homes and commercial buildings have unique windows based on their architectural design. The choices for this material are wide for the property owner who decides for the installation. It’s usually part of the construction or renovation plan before the entire project is carried out. But it’s not always perfect since there are crucial factors to keep in mind, such as aesthetics, design, colour, cost, and more. If you want excellent results in window installation or replacement, don’t leave any room for error.
Vinyl and aluminum are the most popular types of windows today. Both are cheaper, require lower maintenance, and are more durable than wood. However, they also have differences, which are discussed in this article to determine the right window type for your home or office. It’s a critical decision that requires analysis of facts since it’s a long-term investment. Read on and learn how one type of window might offer more advantages than another.
What is Vinyl Window?
Vinyl windows were developed in the 1970s and became immensely popular among homeowners in the 1990s. At the time, this product was considered a better alternative to wooden windows due to its cheaper cost and appealing qualities. It’s made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a synthetic plastic polymer.
Today, this type of window can be seen in many homes and commercial establishments. It’s proven to reduce electricity bills because of its energy-efficient insulation. The product also does not require costly maintenance like painting or scraping and could last over 20 years.
Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows
There are several reasons why vinyl window frames are used in many homes and commercial establishments. Unlike wood and other window types, it’s an energy-efficient, durable, and low-maintenance product. But there are also drawbacks to using this material. So, we present the pros and cons of vinyl windows for you to make a well-informed decision.
Vinyl windows are the least expensive of all window materials. Their price may range from $400 to $600, slightly cheaper than fibreglass windows. This affordable price doesn’t necessarily equate to low quality. Vinyl is proven durable and won’t rust or corrode. You may also save some bucks from the lower cost of installing and replacing this type of window frame.
- Lower Energy Costs
Most homeowners are looking for windows to reduce their energy consumption or electricity bills. If you have the same priority, you’ll be glad to know that vinyl windows can be the most energy-efficient option. This material reflects heat from outdoors and retains heat from indoors regardless of summer or winter, allowing you to save money on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
There’s practically no expensive maintenance when you use vinyl windows. They are nearly 100% scratch-free, so you don’t have to paint, scrape, or stain the material. You don’t also have to replace it more often as vinyl doesn’t age as fast as other windows. All you have to do is clean the material with soap and water at least once a week. This would spare you from the hassle of exhausting time and financial resources on maintenance.
You can choose from various colours, styles, and sizes for vinyl windows. If you value aesthetics over anything else, this product might benefit your needs. Another option has custom-made vinyl windows, which various manufacturers now offer. This feature will allow you to choose materials that would match your home or office’s interior and exterior design.
Some window types like wood could last for around 10 to 20 years before replacing. But if you use vinyl windows, you can extend the duration for up to 30 years. This durability will cut your expenses on home maintenance, which is very important if you have a tight budget. Unlike other varieties, this material also does not require expensive maintenance. However, proper installation is essential to ensure that you maximize its benefits.
- Customization Costs
Manufacturers will use an extrusion process when you order a customized vinyl window. It’s often a difficult task to shape this product so that the cost may be higher depending on the scale of the project. The design of vinyl windows isn’t that flexible, making it difficult to match specific window frames with distinctive features. Still, you can get custom products, but you have to pay higher than the standard price.
- Colour Customization
There are many colours available for vinyl windows, so you can choose one that suits your home’s colour. If you consider painting or staining the interior to match the decor, you should always choose a neutral control. But when you pick other specific colours, you can no longer change that. The interior of vinyl windows cannot be painted or stained; hence it may not be a flexible choice for all aesthetic considerations.
- No Standard Quality
Not all vinyl windows have the same qualities and features. The products are tailored to suit general needs, except those custom-made. But there’s no standard quality when it comes to this particular product. That’s why you’ll often find all sorts of vinyl windows with different attributes. Each brand is also different, making it a bit challenging to select the right product.
What is an Aluminum Window?
Aluminum windows were used as early as 1912 for railroad cars, buses, and streetcars. This product was considered highly efficient for weather tightness, low upkeep costs, excellent ease of operation, and superior strength and appearance. Over a century later, this type of window is still popular among many vehicles, homes, and commercial establishments.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Windows
You can find most aluminum window frames as lightweight, strong, and durable. The product can also be tailored for almost any frame shape. But unlike other types of windows, aluminum doesn’t have insulating qualities. It may be beneficial in warmer climates, but not in certain places with long winters. Anyway, it doesn’t mean that this is not a good option when you’re living in mostly cold areas. You might find it wise to analyze the product by looking at its pros and cons.
Aluminum windows are significantly cheaper than wooden frames. That’s why it offers a practical alternative for residential or commercial use. This product is also easy to manufacture and install. You can install high-quality aluminum windows in your home for $375 to $1,285. But the total cost of this project will also depend on the brand and labour expenses.
If you are looking for a lightweight window material, aluminum products would fit the standards. This is the lightest metal you can find, making it ideal for some vehicle windows and specific residential and commercial properties. It allows you to customize the design within specific configurations. The lightweight design also enhances the slim profile and sightlines.
Many homeowners are concerned about the cost and the time it takes to clean window frames. While it may seem easy, some materials require extensive labour and higher expense. But aluminum windows are another exception because they are easy to maintain. If you choose an anodized or baked-on finish, you don’t even have to repaint the product.
How long a window frame lasts is an essential consideration. This is where an aluminum type can be a great choice since it’s durable. It has a long-term value as the metal can withstand destructive elements. The material is not prone to water moisture or other issues from the home exterior. In other words, this product is built to last, and you don’t have to spend money for window replacement more often.
- High U-Value
The rate of heat transfer through a structure is the U-Value. Unfortunately, this is where the aluminum windows are poor at. Compared with other types, it’s the least favourable in this aspect. It’s not essentially appropriate in places with extreme winters. You might only consider this product in mild to warm climates. But new technologies like built-in thermal breaks are coming out to address this weakness.
Aluminum is durable, but it doesn’t mean it’s safe from corrosion. This is one problem that you might encounter from using this product. When the metal is exposed to salt in the water or air, it might lead to that issue. It’s because aluminum has a low resistance to salt, like any other type of metal.
This pertains to how the metal conducts heat and cold. Aluminum windows are generally prone to condensation, or the property that enables water vapour to turn into liquid. During winter, the material also gets cold, so it might not be best for window installation or replacement in a cold climate.
Vinyl Windows versus Aluminum Windows
There’s no other way to decide which type of window is best for you than to make an objective comparison. Vinyl and aluminum materials have emerged as the two popular residential and commercial windows choices. Let’s compare these two options to ensure that your project would provide maximum value in the long run.
Appearance and Composition
No single window frame fits all structures, designs, and sizes. At the very start of your project, you have to choose the window type for its intended purpose. It’s a good thing that both vinyl and aluminum windows can be custom-manufactured to fit your window shape or configuration. But these materials don’t have the same composition as vinyl has smooth and wood-textured finishes, while aluminum has smooth and powdered-coated enamel. Additionally, aluminum windows are more appealing because the frame is smaller. On the other hand, some vinyl windows may allow you to paint the frame, which is an advantage among homeowners.
Maintenance and Durability
Both aluminum and vinyl windows don’t require costly or tedious maintenance. All you have to do is schedule a regular window washing. They are also highly durable; hence you can use them for a long time. Another advantage is that neither type of window is affected by rain or wind, preventing water ingress and clouding between double panes. If you’re asking which is more durable between the two, aluminum has a higher impact ratio and can withstand every climate condition. But vinyl materials don’t suffer from corrosion which is common in aluminum.
Regardless of frame type, condensation of water on window interiors can occur. It’s also called sweating when warm and moist interior air condenses on cold window panes. If there’s more sweating, the water may gather around and cause sill damage and mold. This problem is likely to exist when you use vinyl frames with thermal-pane glass to prevent sweating. It’s a different story for aluminum, where sweating is expected unless the frame has a thermal break.
Aluminum windows cost compared with the vinyl price is more expensive, about 30% higher. It’s even twice as expensive if double-hung due to heavy-duty construction. On average, you can expect to pay from $450 to $1,200 for aluminum frames. At the same time, vinyl windows can cost between $375 and $775. When you are replacing windows in a 2,000 sq. ft. house, you would likely pay $8,000 to $24,0000. But the overall cost also depends on the quality and size of the product.
When it comes to insulation and improving energy efficiency, vinyl windows are an excellent choice because they minimize heat transfer. Aluminum windows tend to conduct heat and cold; hence they are less energy efficient. If you still prefer using the latter type but still want to maximize energy consumption, look for thermally improved products or consider installing thermal breaks to prevent energy loss. Another piece of advice is to find new or replacement windows that have an Energy-Star label, as it can reduce your energy bill by an average of 12 percent annually.
Hire A Reliable Window Installer!
Whether you choose vinyl or aluminum windows for your home, you need to consider hiring a professional installer. That’s because no matter how high-quality your product is, it won’t look appealing and last long if not installed correctly. An expert can guarantee to achieve your aesthetic goals, higher energy efficiency, and other essential priorities.
Elysian Construction has the expertise to attain your goals. We can install all types of windows. Our company has a reliable network with leading window manufacturers, which would offer you the advantage of selecting the best product in the market. You can trust our competent window installers to meet your expectations regarding aesthetics, durability, cost, and energy efficiency. Feel free to contact us anytime!