Quotatis | Double Glazing Advice

Aluminium Windows vs uPVC: Which Material is Best?

While most people think the only modern option for windows these days is uPVC, there is actually another contender. Now that the technology around them has improved, aluminium windows are becoming the first choice of many homeowners.

Back in the 1980s, aluminium windows and doors were well-known for being poorly made and ugly. They often didn’t close properly and had an unsightly metal strip frame, which led to the rise in more and more homeowners choosing uPVC windows. They were much more durable and lasted longer without the need for much maintenance. But aluminium windows have come a long way since then.

These days, choose from sleek black frames or subtle greys for your windows and you’ll give your home a new life. Lots of people argue that they look better and give a high-end, contemporary finish. So aluminium vs uPVC windows: which material should you go for? Read on to find out how each material fares in a range of different aspects.

Maintenance

woman cleaning outside of uPVC window

Aluminium

Aluminium frames are pretty low maintenance. They don’t need treating with anything and the most you’ll have to do is wipe them with a damp cloth.

uPVC

uPVC window frames are pretty much the same as aluminium in terms of maintenance. They just need wiping with a damp cloth every now and again to keep them looking good.

Winner: It’s a tie

Durability

man in white hard hat fitting aluminium window

Aluminium

One of the biggest benefits to aluminium windows is that they’re durable. Modern-day aluminium frames won’t rust, warp or corrode in harsh weather conditions, and could last up to 45 years. Most frames these days are finished with a powder coating which enhances their durability. Aluminium is also lightweight and very strong.

uPVC

uPVC windows are also pretty durable, but less so than aluminium. They are resistant to rot and shouldn’t warp, but their lifespan is around 20 to 30 years. This is because they degrade, just at a much slower rate than wooden windows. You’ll start to notice the frames turn a yellowy colour after a few years.

Winner: aluminium

Versatility

Aluminium

Aluminium frames are versatile. It’s still believed that you can only buy aluminium windows in silver frames, but that’s no longer true. Some companies offer up to 200 colours, with the most popular colour being black. Now you can take advantage of the benefits of aluminium windows without having to sacrifice style.

uPVC

You can get uPVC windows in different colours, but lots of people dislike the finish. You can also get wood-effect uPVC frames, which can look quite realistic on a period property that would look odd with aluminium or white frames.

Winner: aluminium

Aesthetics

aluminium windows looking out to trees

Aluminium

One of the reasons that aluminium has become so popular in the last few years is because of the sleek styles that the frames offer. Because aluminium is so strong, the frames can be much thinner, giving a clean look and improved sightlines. So if you’ve got stunning views from a window, you’ll be able to see them much better with aluminium frames.

uPVC

Lots of people think the use of plastic on window frames looks unsightly. They’re often bulky, and most uPVC windows are white because it’s cheapest. However, as we mentioned, you can choose different colours and from woodgrain effects, so that can make them look a little more interesting and stylish.

Winner: it’s personal preference – but we’d go for aluminium

Flexibility

Aluminium

Aluminium is flexible. This makes them perfect for properties with unusually shaped openings as they can be moulded to the exact shape and size you require.

uPVC

uPVC isn’t as flexible as aluminium. It’s great for if you have standard-shape windows, but may be a problem if you have rounded openings as the frames will be more difficult to make.

Winner: aluminium

Energy efficiency

Aluminium

Aluminium frames used to have a reputation for having a low thermal efficiency, due to heat being able to pass through them very easily. However, now that technology has improved, aluminium windows and doors contain thermal breaks within the frames which prevents too much heat conduction. There are always differences between brands, so it’s best to check what the Window Energy Rating (WER) is.

uPVC

Like aluminium windows, uPVC windows vary between brands on how energy efficient they are. uPVC is not as conductive as aluminium, so it is naturally more thermally efficient, but again there can be differences between brands. Make sure you compare Window Energy Ratings between all the windows you’re considering to find the best ones.

Winner: it’s a tie

Soundproofing

Aluminium

There’s not really much of a difference between uPVC and aluminium in soundproofing. Aluminium may have slightly worse soundproofing properties, but there is not much difference.

uPVC

The only time when uPVC frames may be a better option for soundproofing is if you live in a particularly noisy area. But most of the time, there is little difference between the materials.

Winner: it’s a tie

It’s worth noting that most of the soundproofing properties of a window come from the glazing itself. So as long as you opt for high-quality double glazing, or even triple glazing, you shouldn’t hear too much noise from within your home.

Security

burglar looking in through uPVC window

Aluminium

These days, lots of aluminium window frames come with shoot-bolt locks, key locking handles and toughened glass, whereas in the past the security wasn’t brilliant.

uPVC

uPVC windows also come with multi-point locks and other security measures, and there isn’t much difference between the two materials. However, both aluminium and uPVC frames are more secure than wooden windows thanks to their durable properties.

Winner: it’s a tie

Cost

Aluminium

Aluminium frames can be expensive. The exact amount they will cost depends on a few things such as the size and the type of glazing you go for, as well as the quality of aluminium used. They are generally more expensive than uPVC, but as aluminium windows surge in popularity, the cost is coming down.

uPVC

uPVC window frames are, most of the time, cheaper than aluminium. But when you’re comparing prices, it’s best to try to compare like-for-like, as there will be different costs involved in lots of different elements. You’ll also find that there’s a difference in price between larger national companies and regional ones, as they all have different overheads.

Winner: uPVC, most of the time – but compare like-for-like

So, uPVC or aluminium windows?

So there are benefits to both aluminium and uPVC windows. It’s up to you to decide which is best for your home and what your budget is, but we can help you find the prices.

Simply fill in the form below and we’ll put you in touch with up to 4 companies who will be able to give you quotes for both uPVC and aluminium windows.

Emily Rivers

Emily Rivers is the Customer Experience Manager at Quotatis. She informs customers of the latest developments in a range of products so they can make the best choice for their homes and ensures they get the best out of our service.