Vinyl vs Aluminum Windows: A Comparison Guide

There’s plenty to consider when choosing replacement windows. Cost, durability, efficiency, and appearance will all factor into your decision and not all windows are created equally. When planning your window replacement project, you’ll want a high quality window that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Two popular types are aluminum windows and vinyl windows. Find out how they compare and discover how a third option—aluminum-clad vinyl windows—might just be the perfect combination of the two!

Aluminum Windows: Strong and thin, but not built for harsh climates

Since aluminum is strong and durable, aluminum window frames are thinner and less bulky, allowing for larger windows. It’s a great look for modern contemporary or mid-century modern home designs, but the biggest drawback of aluminum windows is that they don’t work for all climates. 

Traditionally, all-aluminum windows are best used for homes in temperate climates. They aren’t a great option for the harsh extremes of Canadian weather. Generally speaking, aluminum windows are less energy efficient that their vinyl counterparts. Since aluminum is a heat conductor, there can be significant heat loss in winter or heat gain in summer, which puts an added strain on your HVAC system to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature in your home. Also, condensation on an aluminum window frame can lead to rust and corrosion which will affect the appearance and overall longevity of the window. 

To improve the efficiency, aluminum windows need a thermal break, which is a continuous barrier between the inside and outside window frames that prevents thermal energy loss. This extra insulating barrier also helps reduce interior condensation near the edge of the window frame. Naturally, the wider the thermal break the more insulating it is. A good rule of thumb for our northerly climate is to choose an aluminum window frame with a minimum thermal break of one inch or more. 

Vinyl Windows: The popular choice 

While they may not have the minimalist stylings of aluminum, vinyl window frames are more affordable and more energy efficient. This is why they are the trusted choice for many new home builders and for window replacement projects. 

Made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that is often “unplasticized” for greater rigidity (UPVC), vinyl is a better thermal protector than wood or aluminum, so vinyl window frames offer superior energy efficiency.  And when combined with multi-paned glass and Low E glazing options, PVC windows can help reduce heating and cooling costs even in extreme climates. 

Good quality vinyl windows are essentially maintenance-free and very durable, lasting longer than wood or aluminum. They also come in multiple styles — from sleek sliders to functional casement windows — and nearly limitless design choices. 

Aluminum-Clad Vinyl Windows: Beauty and function come together

Pairing the best features of aluminum windows (contemporary elegance and strength) with the best features of vinyl windows (low maintenance and high efficiency), Gienow’s aluminum clad vinyl windows offer the best of both worlds

More expensive than vinyl windows, aluminum clad vinyl window frames are a great option for homeowners who want the modern look, but do not want to sacrifice function and efficiency. 

Quick Guide: Aluminum vs Vinyl vs Aluminum-Clad Vinyl

PROS CONS
ALUMINUM
  • Labor-intensive process equates to higher installation cost; about 420 percent more expensive than vinyl siding
  • Lowest total installed cost of any exterior cladding
  • An independent agency ensures that certified vinyl siding installers are trained and tested on ASTM-accepted application techniques
VINYL
  • Over time pointing (the mortar used to attach bricks together) needs to be replaced
  • No long-term maintenance costs
ALUMINUM-CLAD VINYL
  • There are multiple colour options for brick, but choices are limited compared to vinyl siding
  • Difficult to paint brick evenly
  • Homes with brick often feature high-maintenance trim and finishes (such as wood) to complement the look
  • An extensive variety of profiles and shapes to suit virtually
  • any architectural style
  • A wide spectrum of colour choices
  • Comprehensive architectural trim options and accessories in matching and complementary colours

 

Looking for the efficiency of vinyl but the look of traditional aluminium windows? Gienow’s Aluminum Clad Vinyl windows offer both the durability and low maintenance with the elegance and sheen of aluminum. Contact our sales team for a free consultation.