When choosing between window construction material types such as aluminum clad windows and vinyl clad windows, there are four general areas of consideration you will need to keep in mind: cost, colors, efficiency, and maintenance.
Aluminum is generally more expensive to use as a construction material than plastic or vinyl. Thus, aluminum clad windows are more costly than vinyl clad windows. Aluminum clad windows also tend to cost more than vinyl clad windows because they often require extra sealants to improve their thermal efficiency and reduce the likelihood of condensation.
When clad windows first became available, the color choices were limited. Now, both vinyl and aluminum clad windows come in many different colors. However, make your final color choice wisely. Although both types can be painted if needed, it often requires a bit more surface preparation, effort, and specialized painting materials than when painting or refinishing a natural material surface such as wood.
Like most metals, aluminum conducts both heat and cold and is not a good thermal insulator. On the other hand, vinyl is a poor thermal conductor and serves as a better insulator. As a result, aluminum clad windows are less energy efficient, and more likely to allow the loss of cold and heat. Aluminum clad windows are also more likely to allow condensation between the glass panes.
The final consideration when choosing between these two window construction material types is maintenance. The exterior of vinyl clad windows will require virtually no maintenance after installation. Aluminum clad windows, on the other hand, are more likely to stick over time.