What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Aluminum Windows
Window replacements are a complicated process for many homeowners. In addition to it being one of the more costly home improvement projects, there is also an assortment of styles and materials used to produce them. That’s not even getting into what window installer company you decide to go with. Aluminum windows are a fairly common type of window.
Aluminum and vinyl have slowly started to replace wood windows as the most common style because they are both considered more heavy-duty and long-lasting. There are pros and cons to every type of window, including aluminum. In this article, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of aluminum windows.
Types of Windows
Before we get directly into aluminum windows, let’s compare it to other types of building materials used to construct new windows:
- Wood Windows: Wood windows are a staple in the market because they have been used forever and some people appreciate the natural look of the design. While wood always looks great, it’s more prone to rot and crack. Water can penetrate it easily and it damages the material over time. Therefore, it’s not the most practical material.
- Vinyl Windows: If you look at new homes getting constructed, you’ll notice that more often than not they are installed with vinyl windows. Why? Vinyl is not only affordable but also requires very little maintenance and upkeep. You don’t even have to repaint the frame periodically. The biggest knock is they lack the strength of other types of windows.
- Fiberglass Windows: Fiberglass is arguably the premium option depending on who you ask. The synthetic fiberglass material can replace the look of wood and is incredibly durable. It is resilient to the weather so it’s suitable for a number of different climates. The biggest drawback is that fiberglass windows are very costly.
Let’s examine aluminum now that you have a basic background on the other three types of material. They are considered more durable than wood and also very affordable, similar to vinyl. The amount of time and money needed for long-term maintenance is low.
The only issue with aluminum is that it’s not a universally sound option. Why? Aluminum doesn’t have the insulating qualities of some other types of windows. Therefore, it works well in warmer climates but not so great in other parts of the country with long winters.
Metal conducts an excess amount of heat which then becomes a problem in regards to your energy bill. So while aluminum may be a great choice in many aspects for your window replacements, it really depends greatly on where you live in the United States.
Advantages of Aluminum Windows
There are many pros to investing in aluminum windows. Here are some of the primary highlights:
- Affordability: Aluminum is one of the cheaper options for new windows. The only other type that’s competitive in cost is vinyl. Wood and fiberglass are usually much higher. Everyone likes a good deal and you get a lot of “bang for the buck” with aluminum.
- Durability: One of the primary reasons that wood windows are slowly being phased out by other styles is because they lack the same long-term value. Aluminum is durable because it’s metal and can withstand the elements. It is not as prone to suffer from water moisture and other issues from the exterior of the home.
- Maintenance: Aluminum windows are very easy to maintain. They are sold in a number of different colors and styles. If you invest in an anodized or baked-on finish you’ll never have to repaint it. Aluminum is hassle-free compared to wood.
- Lightweight: Aluminum is the most lightweight type of metal you can find. It can also get customized to fit within certain configurations. Also, the lightweight design translates well into a slim profile which subsequently improves sight lines.
- Long-Lasting: Since you’re going to spend a good deal of money on any window replacement, you might as well invest in something long-lasting. The good news is with aluminum considering its lower cost, is actually built to last. The warp-resistant corners are mechanically joined to maintain the same shape for years.
Disadvantages of Aluminum Windows
It is important to note that the manufacturing of aluminum windows has improved dramatically in the last couple of decades. In the 1970s and 80s, aluminum was considered kind of a cheap knock off.
However, technology has vastly improved. Still, there are a few disadvantages to installing new aluminum windows:
- High U-Value: The biggest knock on aluminum windows is how it conducts heat and cold. In an era where energy efficiency is really important for homeowners, aluminum is the least “green” of all window types. New technologies like built-in thermal breaks are attempting to address the issue yet is unlikely aluminum will ever be as good as vinyl or fiberglass in this regard. While it’s not a concern in mild to warm climates, aluminum is definitely not as appropriate in places with extreme winters.
- Condensation: Once again related to how the metal conducts heat and cold, aluminum windows are more prone to condensate. They are also cold to the touch in the winter, so once again not the best bet if investing in a window replacement in a cold climate.
- Corrosion: While aluminum is considered very durable, there is not a type of building material that doesn’t have at least one problem. That problem is corrosion. When metal gets exposed to salt in the air or water, it contributes to corrosion. Aluminum has a problem resisting salt just like any other type of metal.
Final Verdict: Aluminum Window Replacements
Homeowners in warmer climates benefit greatly from aluminum. The material is lightweight, durable, and affordable. The biggest problem is if you live in a place with a long, cold winter. In that case, aluminum windows are not your best option.
A qualified window installer can go over your list of options and what type of material works best based on where you live in the United States. It is a good idea to shop around and get multiple quotes.