Aluminium vs uPVC windows – it’s a longstanding debate as to which is better, and for homeowners it can be a tough decision to make when considering the installation of new windows. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of both uPVC and aluminium windows to help you make the right choice for your property and budget.
Durability of uPVC vs aluminium windows
uPVC (unplasticised Poly Vinyl Chloride) has been a popular choice for window frames since the 1980s. It’s a very durable material and resistant to rot, which means it has a
long lifespan and requires very little maintenance. However, frames can degrade over the years, albeit at a much slower rate than timber windows, and tend to require replacement after 20 to 30 years.
Aluminium is also a highly durable material, but high quality aluminium windows can last up to 45 years because they don’t degrade in the same way that uPVC can. Unlike other metals, aluminium will not rust, so you don’t have to worry about your window frames sustaining unsightly patches of rust in the future.
Energy efficiency of aluminium vs uPVC windows
One reason why aluminium has been deemed less favourable than uPVC in the past is due to its low thermal efficiency. Aluminium is a highly conductive material, which means heat can pass through it very easily. For a while, aluminium was therefore seen as a thermally inefficient choice for windows compared to uPVC.
However, technology has come a long way over the past couple of decades, and these days aluminium windows and doors feature innovative thermal breaks within the frames, which prevents too much heat from being conducted.
Some manufacturers, such as Origin, even use layers of Aerogel in their frames, which is such an effective insulator that it is used to insulate space shuttles and space suits.
Ultimately, the level of thermal efficiency offered by both aluminium windows and uPVC windows is variable and comes down to the quality of materials and manufacturing processes used.
Aluminium double glazed windows can be just as energy efficient as uPVC windows; just be sure to check the WER (Window Energy Rating) on the brands you’re considering. Any newly installed windows by law must be at least C rated, but both aluminium and uPVC are capable of offering up to A++ ratings.
Security of uPVC and aluminium windows
Thanks to their durable nature, both aluminium and uPVC windows are pretty secure, and significantly more so than timber windows which can be vulnerable to forced entry if they degrade. The level of security a window provides tends to be based on the quality of the locks installed with it.
No matter if you opt for aluminium or uPVC, provided that you have durable, modern, multipoint locks, you can rest assured that your windows will be secure.
Soundproofing differences between uPVC and aluminium
One of the advantages of uPVC windows over aluminium is that they tend to offer slightly better soundproofing. This doesn’t mean to say that aluminium windows are bad at soundproofing, but uPVC does slightly win out when it comes to blocking out exterior noise.
However, it’s worth noting that a great deal of soundproofing comes from the glazing itself, rather than just the frame. If you opt for high quality double glazing, your home should remain relatively quiet. Triple glazing even further improves the window’s ability to block sound.
If you live in a very noisy area, uPVC may be a favourable option, but for most homeowners the difference in soundproofing between the two materials is negligible enough that this doesn’t play a big factor in choosing between them.
Aesthetic differences between aluminium and uPVC windows
One of the reasons for the surge in popularity of aluminium windows in recent years is the sleek style that they offer. Aluminium window frames can be much slimmer than uPVC, which gives them a clean, minimal look that is very popular in modern homes. The other benefit of slim window frames is that they improve sightlines from the window, so if your home looks out over a stunning view, you might just love this aspect of aluminium windows.
It’s also worth noting that despite their slim frames, aluminium is robust enough to house large panes of glass. This means that if you have a large aperture, you may not be required to divide it into multiple panes, which means better views and more natural light being able to enter your home.
Aluminium windows attributes:
- Sleek style
- Improved sightlines
- More natural light
uPVC windows have a bit of a reputation for being bulky and unsightly, and the plastic look is not particularly appealing for homeowners who want something a little more unique for their property.
White uPVC tends to be relatively cheap which is why it is the most common colour seen in UK properties, but there are other colours available if you do want to opt for something more out of the ordinary. You can also get wood effect uPVC window frames.
- Various colours and finishes
- Plastic appearance
- Good value
Aluminium also offers lots of variety in regard to finish. Most aluminium windows are finished with a powder coating, which enhances their durability and their stylish appearance.
This powder coating is available in a huge range of colours, particularly when you opt for brands like Origin which offer 180 RAL colours as well as any British standard colour and Farrow and Ball shades.
Highly realistic wood effect coatings can also be achieved with aluminium windows, and this is perfect for those who love the classic, traditional appearance of real wood but prefer the durability of aluminium over timber.
Many aluminium windows can also feature different finishes on the inside and outside of the frame, which allows you to customise the look of the windows to complement your home’s exterior while coordinating with the individual décor of each room.
uPVC windows vs aluminium windows price points
Aluminium windows do tend to be more expensive than uPVC due to a higher cost of materials and manufacturing. However, when you consider that aluminium is less likely to degrade than uPVC, it can be a more cost-effective solution in the long run.
Furthermore, since aluminium windows offer a sleek, contemporary style, they can add a little more value to a property than uPVC which can make them a worthwhile investment.
So, how much do aluminium windows cost? This is a tough question to answer because there are so many variables involved, such as:
- Size of the aperture
- Number of panes in the window
- Glazing (double or triple)
- Locking mechanisms
- Colours and finishes
- Quality of aluminium used (prime aluminium billets or scrap aluminium)
It’s worth noting that aluminium windows are gradually becoming more and more affordable due to their surge in popularity. When manufacturers increase the production of their windows they can usually cut costs, and over the years these savings have trickled down to the consumer.
If you like the appeal of aluminium windows but aren’t sure if they will fit your budget, go ahead and get a quote; you may be surprised at how affordable they can be. Many manufacturers offer different models of windows for varying budgets, so it’s worth chatting to an expert to figure out what you can afford.
When considering uPVC vs aluminium price points, try to compare like for like where possible. Take into account glazing, frame colour, handles, locks, and accessories, because all of these factor into the overall cost of your windows.
Ultimately, the more thermally efficient a window is and the higher the security it offers, the more expensive it will be regardless of whether it is uPVC or aluminium.
Figure out how important each factor is to you and go from there. For example, you may opt for cheaper uPVC frames and select pricier, more secure locks. Alternatively, if style is very important, you could choose to spend more on aluminium frames and opt for double rather than triple glazing to make the windows more affordable.
Should you choose aluminium or uPVC?
Aluminium vs uPVC is a not a cut and dried contest – it all comes down to your personal preferences, your budget, and the factors that are important to you. Every homeowner is different and since uPVC and aluminium tie on so many factors – particularly thermal efficiency and security – it’s not as simple as saying one is better than the other.
Aluminium windows have come on leaps and bounds over the past 10 years in terms of affordability, durability, and thermal efficiency, and we expect them to only continue to grow in popularity. However, there will always be a place in the market for uPVC thanks to its affordability.
If you’re still struggling to decide whether you want uPVC or aluminium windows, why not go ahead and get quotes for both? Chatting to a windows expert will be a great opportunity to discuss in more detail the differences between the two materials and figure out which is most suitable for your property.