Vinyl vs Aluminum Windows
If you’re in the market for replacement windows you may find that there are many different options to consider and costs to think about. There are many different reasons to replace old windows in your home, window replacement in your home can lower your energy costs significantly while also making your windows more appealing. When choosing new windows, homeowners have more choices in materials and styles than ever before.
Two of the more popular window frame materials are vinyl and aluminum and while they may look and function different, both have many positives. Here are the significant differences between vinyl and aluminum windows to help you make the best choice when deciding on what material to buy for your home.
Appearance of Vinyl and Aluminum Windows
When considering new windows, vinyl and aluminum windows check many of the same boxes. Both are readily available as single or double-hung, single or multi-pane, and both are available in nearly any color or design style.
Aluminum comes in a thin frame which gives your home a sleek, modern appearance and is commonly used in contemporary architectural designs. Many home owners prefer aluminum because of the sleek design and allows for more glass area.
Aluminum frames are also very easy to maintain and can be painted or powder-coated to match the desired color. Occasionally the painted coat can chip and reveal the metal underneath but can be easily repainted.
Vinyl window frames are traditionally thicker than aluminum frames and offer many options such as smooth, textured or faux wood finishes. The faux wood grain finish is a popular choice by homeowners because it gives them the appearance of a traditional wood finish with the durability of new materials.
Vinyl windows are typically thicker than aluminum because they’re made from PVC which makes them easier to clean. The downside to vinyl is that it cannot be painted so once they’re installed the color is permanent.
Aluminum windows are resistant to scratching and cracking which makes them incredibly durable, however the frames can be prone to dents. Aluminum can also be prone to corrosion and color change in strong sunlight.
If you’re looking for larger size windows then aluminum is generally the best option because their strength and structural integrity makes them preferred for larger windows. For homeowners who are in the path of hurricanes and inclement weather, the strength of aluminum will provide a high degree of impact resistance at a much lower cost than impact resistant vinyl.
In recent years, vinyl windows have become much more durable and the life span has increased significantly compared to earlier models. As long as the vinyl is protected from water pooling on the frame, experts believe vinyl will last longer than other window options.
Vinyl frames are constructed with the same material throughout which makes it less likely to show scratches or chips when compared to aluminum frames. Vinyl windows are durable enough to take a beating and still look great.
Energy Efficiency and Insulation
Homeowners are paying more attention to energy savings than ever before and it should be a big factor into your decision on which type of window you ultimately choose. When properly installed, vinyl windows are considered energy-efficient by Energy Star.
On the other hand, aluminum windows are notorious for acting as a radiator and can bring heat from outside into your room. Regardless of which type of window you ultimately decide on, if not installed properly, even the best energy-efficient windows will be less efficient.
Vinyl windows feature insulated frames to help keep your heated or cool air from escaping your home as well as keeping heated or cooled air from entering your home. Vinyl also does a great job at reducing outside noise than aluminum windows since they have a thicker foam filled frame.
Aluminum windows will not be as energy-efficient as vinyl because they’re actually a heat conductor and can heat up a room. Since the aluminum conducts heat it will cause your HVAC unit to work harder to cool your room. They can also conduct cold the same way as they attract heat so they must be protected by thermal breaks to compete with vinyl in the energy efficiency category.
Condensation on Vinyl and Aluminum Windows
Condensation can become a major issue when it’s ignored on your windows ultimately resulting in mold which can be bad for your family’s health if it’s not wiped away and cleaned.
Vinyl windows will create less condensation because they’re much more energy efficient and don’t conduct heat or cold air as much as aluminum windows will.
Aluminum windows will create more condensation because of the heat transfer that they’re known for. There will be much more maintenance with aluminum windows than you would have with a vinyl window.
Cost: Aluminum vs Vinyl Windows
A huge factor for homeowners when replacing their windows is the cost. When comparing vinyl vs aluminum windows you will almost always pay more for aluminum.
Vinyl is typically less expensive when compared to aluminum. It will cost you roughly between $530 to $740 to buy a 48-inch vinyl sash window, and it will cost you around $250 to install the same window. Ultimately coming to $780 to $990 per window.
When buying anything more efficient than a bottom of the line product aluminum windows are typically more expensive compared to vinyl. Prior to installation aluminum windows can cost anywhere from $450 to $1200 and it will cost you anywhere from $400 to $1200 to install each window. Ultimately coming to $850 to $2400 per window.
Vinyl vs. Aluminum Windows, Which is Better?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on your needs. If you’re looking for a more modern look and are not necessarily concerned with the cost then aluminum is more suitable for you. If you’re looking for a cost effective option with low maintenance, vinyl windows will be more suitable to your needs. When comparing vinyl vs aluminum windows, the durability, energy efficiency and cost all favor vinyl.
Once you have decided on which type of window is right for you, consult a window expert to give you a quote for your project, and to get your windows fitted by a pro.