When it comes to the aluminium windows vs uPVC frame debate, there are strong advocates on both sides disputing which type of material is better suited for your home. But for those unsure of the difference between these two materials, this discussion can often lead to unnecessary confusion when planning home renovations.
Here at Express, for example, we produce our bespoke windows, doors, and glass solutions using exclusively aluminium frames. We do this for a variety of reasons, particularly because we love the strength and flexibility this material offers our customers.
Of course, an aluminium front door or window frames might not be the ideal solution for your home or building plans. So, to help you decide which material to choose when updating your doors and windows, we’ve explained the difference between uPVC vs aluminium windows below; including the advantages each type of material offers.
Aluminium frames are exactly what they sound like. They’re frames made from aluminium – specifically a combination of preheated, high-grade aluminium alloys that are pressed and joined together. This process ensures the frames are flexible yet extremely durable, making them an excellent building material.
A uPVC frame, or an unplasticized polyvinyl chloride frame, is a low-cost vinyl polymer that’s bound together using chlorine atoms to give the material strength. They’re a common choice for most home windows. In fact, they’re so common that you’ll likely visit at least one home built with these frames at some point in your life.
As we’ve already mentioned, aluminium frames have numerous beneficial properties that make them a well-suited material for window and door frames. The following are the main reasons why you might want to choose aluminium for your bi-fold doors and windows.
The greatest benefit of aluminium frames is the exceptional durability they provide to your home. Once you’ve installed your aluminium windows or doors, you won’t need to replace them for upwards of a decade at least, and they’ll usually last well over twenty years before needing replacements.
On top of this. aluminium frames are also exceptionally weather-resistant, meaning they won’t warp in the heat and cold. This minimises the build-up of drafts over time, and prevents excessive condensation and mould growth.
Thanks mainly due to their aforementioned durability, once installed, aluminium frames tend to require practically minimal maintenance to keep them in shape. A regular wash in warm soapy water is often enough to clear away any grime, and if you do find issues with your frames, these are usually quick to fix by getting in touch with the manufacturer.
Ideally, one of the main things you want from your windows is spectacular views and plenty of natural light. And thanks to the strong versatility of this material, an aluminium window can be produced with much thinner window frames.
Not only does this give you a much wider view, with near-uninterrupted sightlines of your garden and surroundings, but this strength also means aluminium framed windows use fewer panes, making them great for bay and picture windows.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to have fewer frames in your window design. If you want a complex pane set up of multiple-shaped windows for a distinctly unique look, then there’s no better material option than aluminium.
While aluminium on its own is very durable, this durability is enhanced further by the specialist methods used to paint it.
In most cases, aluminium frames are painted using baked-on powder paint. This method of painting provides a thick coating that’s smooth to the touch yet highly resilient. Powder paint also comes in a variety of colours, making it easier to find a shade you like.
Here at Express, we offer over 200 RAL colours, including wood grain and metallic finishes, and you can find out more about this kind of frame paint in our blog on what is powder coating.
For a long time, aluminium was considered to be a rather inefficient thermal conductor, typically being seen as less efficient than uPVC. However, recent research and studies have proven the opposite to be true, and in most cases, aluminium is equal to if not better than uPVC frames for retaining heat.
This efficiency is maintained in large part by the thermal breaks incorporated into the design of this type of frame, which uses a material with low thermal conductivity to prevent heat loss. So, even if your frames are cold to the touch, your home will still be retaining heat.
The last advantage aluminium has over uPVC is its environmentally friendly construction. Both the construction of the frames, and the powder paint used to coat them, are made with minimal toxic materials, much of which can be recycled for reuse down the line.
So, it’s clear that aluminium has many advantages for use in construction, but what about uPVC? Here are the most common benefits associated with using uPVC for your window frames.
Because plastic is a cheaper and more common material than aluminium, uPVC windows are almost always cheaper to source and make than those made with aluminium, and you’ll usually find it easier to locate providers of these frames close to your location.
Unlike aluminium-made window frames, uPVC windows work by keeping a layer of air between the glass panes to act as a layer of insulation. This prevents interior heat from being transferred outside through the glass, retaining a consistent indoor temperature.
As a result, uPVC is roughly as effective as aluminium when it comes to thermal efficiency, and in some cases even better. By using certain gases, like Argon inside a glazed unit, uPVC can actually surpass frames of aluminium for heat retention.
As you may have noticed, while the cost benefits offered by uPVC are enticing, there are several major advantages to installing aluminium framed products in your home, especially when it comes to aluminium vs uPVC bi-fold doors and windows.
Yes, aluminium is more expensive initially. However, in the long run, you may very well find that this type of frame is a better investment overall. Their durability is far superior to uPVC, meaning you’ll likely have to spend more fixing your uPVC windows with replacement parts over the years.
Simply put, the quality of your uPVC windows is going to come down to how well they’re installed. As aluminium tends to require specialist fitters, the quality of the installation is often more precise and thorough.
On top of this, uPVC windows tend to fade when exposed to direct sunlight, due to the nature of the traditional paint used to colour their frames. Combine this with fewer colour options and you may find it difficult to find a shade that matches your home aesthetic.
With all that being said, however, if the uPVC vs aluminium bi-fold doors and windows debate simply comes down to the initial installation price for you, then uPVC is likely the superior option for your home. Otherwise, there’s no reason for you not to choose a brand-new set of aluminium sliding doors or windows.
In fact, you can see all of our aluminium doors and windows by visiting your nearest Express showroom. Our Leeds and London branches even include replica house displays, so you can see how our products might look in your home.