Aluminum Windows Pros and Cons

a person installing windows

When you’re ready to replace your old windows, you may choose from several options, including aluminum windows. The aluminum windows of today are a lot better than the older styles of the 1970s and 1980s. How good are aluminum windows, though? What are their good points and how do they compare to other styles?

Advantages of Aluminum Windows

One of the biggest advantages of aluminum is that it’s very light but still strong. It’s durable and doesn’t require much maintenance, especially with a factory-baked or anodized finish. If you have windows with unusual shapes, you might consider aluminum because it can easily be manipulated into the shape you need.

Disadvantages of Aluminum Windows

The great problem with aluminum is that it doesn’t hold heat in well. The thermal conductance of aluminum is high. Thus aluminum windows may not work well in cold climates. Condensation or even frost forms inside the windows and can present a variety of problems.

You can improve the problem by using non-conductive material between the two panes. The break between the two panes needs to be at least 1/4-inch thick. There has to be a complete break between interior and exterior aluminum parts; otherwise a thermal bridge will be established, and you will lose heat.

When Is Aluminum Ideal?

Aluminum windows can be a good option when cold isn’t an important factor. Modern aluminum frames are made to very high standards and tolerances. This means they keep heat in much more efficiently than they once did. They remain popular in commercial buildings because they are much cheaper than some other options.

Aluminum Versus Wood

Wood windows are generally more aesthetically pleasing than aluminum and often fit in better with the style of the house.

Additionally wood has a very low thermal conductance. It holds in heat very well so your house will remain warmer. Condensation should not form in your window unless there’s a fault with the glass or the thermal break that separates the panes of glass.

Wood requires more maintenance than aluminum and more care during the installation process to avoid any gaps. Both the interior and exterior of wood windows need to be finished or painted.

Aluminum Versus Vinyl

Vinyl windows require no maintenance once they’ve been installed. They also have a low thermal conductance so the inside of your house stays warm. Welded frames on vinyl windows mean water or air don't get through. Unlike aluminum, vinyl allows no condensation between the panes.

Vinyl windows are always easy to open and close without any sticking. Aluminum windows are better at keeping noise out of your house, even though vinyl windows can be very efficient too.