With summer over, it’s time for us to think about what important home improvements we need to make before the winter sets in and many homeowners are planning to upgrade their windows to make their homes warmer for the chilly months ahead.
The most popular materials for windows are uPVC and aluminium – but which one is best? Read on for more on the pros and cons of uPVC and aluminium to help you make the right choice for your home and budget.
Windows are an investment buy and homeowners naturally want to make sure they improve the look of their home. Aluminium frames are slimmer than uPVC, so they look very sleek and modern. Super-slim aluminium frames also help to improve the sightlines from the window, which is a definite bonus if you’re lucky enough to look out over a stunning view.
uPVC frames are bulkier than aluminium frames and they may not be as appealing for homeowners who want something more special for their property.
Despite their slim frames, aluminium is very strong, which means it can accommodate bigger panes of glass – perfect if you have a large aperture that you don’t want to divide into multiple frames.
On the other hand, uPVC is not strong enough to house as much glazing, which means uPVC frames won’t let as much light into your home as aluminium frames.
uPVC is a durable material and resistant to rotting, so it provides a long lifespan and is virtually maintenance-free. Frames can however degrade over time and will require replacement after 20 to 30 years.
Aluminium is a hard-wearing material too, but it doesn’t degrade in the same way as uPVC, which means aluminium windows can perform for up to 45 years. Aluminium doesn’t rust or warp like other metals, which makes it an extremely low maintenance material for windows.
Aluminium frames were once deemed to be less energy efficient than uPVC but, thanks to advances in technology, today’s aluminium frames can perform just as well as uPVC. Modern aluminium windows, like the ones from REAL Aluminium, are very effective in reducing heat loss, which helps to keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
These windows use a ‘thermal break’ – a non-heat conductive piece of material, which is designed specifically to prevent heat transfer through the frame. Made from high strength polyamide, it separates the internal and external sections of the aluminium frame to create a barrier to slow down the transfer of hot and cold air and reduce energy loss. This enhances the overall Window Energy Rating (WER) and U-value (a measurement of thermal and energy efficiency) of the window and ensures that the cold stays out and the warm stays in.
Make sure you check the WER rating on the windows you’re considering. All windows must be at least C rated, but both aluminium and uPVC can achieve A++ ratings.
So, how do aluminium and uPVC windows compare on security? Aluminium and uPVC are durable materials and, when fitted with quality locks, both types of window offer high levels of security.
The thermal break used in aluminium windows effectively dampens the vibrations between the outer and the inner frame and helps to block out exterior noise. And whilst uPVC windows do provide slightly better soundproofing than aluminium windows, the difference is minimal.
It’s worth remembering that a great deal of soundproofing comes from the glazing itself, rather than just the frame, so your home should remain quiet if you opt for high-quality double glazing. Triple glazing further improves the window’s ability to block sound.
Aluminium windows do tend to be more expensive than uPVC because of the higher cost of materials and manufacturing. When you consider that aluminium is less likely to degrade than uPVC it may be a more cost-effective option for you in the long run.
Since aluminium windows offer a sleek, contemporary style, they can also add more value to a property than uPVC which does make them a worthwhile investment.
Changing your windows is a big decision, so why not take a look at the REAL Aluminium range for more inspiration before you make your mind up?
You can find your nearest REAL Aluminium retailer here.