When deciding to buy new windows for your home, the crucial thing is to choose an adequate frame material. With numerous options on the market, it can be pretty challenging. While our ancestors typically used wooden windows, many owners hesitate between vinyl vs. aluminum windows nowadays.
Both options come with numerous strengths and downsides, so you should be careful when deciding. For a start, it is crucial to compare both options’ durability, longevity, maintenance level, and price and pick out the one that fulfills your needs. Let’s take a look.
Strong aluminum windows have the structural integrity that allows the production of more sizable windows with thinner frames.
Unfortunately, this metal is a heat conductor, making those windows energy-inefficient. However, they are durable, reliable, and the best option for most modern commercial buildings you can find on the market.
- These lightweight windows are solid and safe
- Aluminum is a durable material with a long lifespan
- These stylish windows are an excellent option for urban commercial buildings
- They are affordable and require minimal maintenance
- Aluminum windows only come in non-traditional styles
- They are less energy-efficient and prone to condensation and corrosion
- Those windows are expensive
Durable and affordable vinyl windows are maintenance-free and resistant to rotting, corrosion, peeling, and chipping. Additionally, they provide ultimate insulation and energy efficiency properties, thanks to multi-cavity chambers.
- Windows made of vinyl have a traditional appearance ideal for residential use
- This durable material has excellent insulation properties
- It is soundproof and energy-efficient
- Vinyl is maintenance-free material
- It is an affordable option that comes with outstanding warranties
- Vinyl windows are available in limited shapes
- Dark vinyl frames can fade over time
Vinyl vs. Aluminum Windows
Even though both vinyl and aluminum are excellent materials for window frames, they may or may not fit your needs. Therefore, you should recognize the difference between them before purchasing.
Vinyl vs. Aluminum Windows
|American Craftsman, Pella, Kolbe, Simonton, Andersen, Ply Gem, and Jels-Wen
|Crystal, Atrium, Pella, Marlin, and Milgard
|Numerous colors, smooth or textured dyed vinyl
|Numerous colors, smooth or textured coating with enamel powder
|Durable in most climate conditions but hardly withstand extreme temperature changes
|Durable regardless of the climate conditions
|Not quite strong
|A bit stronger
|Approximately 20 to 30 years
|Up to 45 years
|Simple DIY project
|Professional installation recommended
|Customizable size, shape, and panes
|Customizable size, shape, and panes
|Minimal maintenance requirements
|Release carcinogen dioxin during the production process, making it an environment unfriendly material
|It is a recyclable material
|Highly popular option for homes
|Highly popular option for commercial buildings
|Awning is $375
Casement is $500 to $675
Sliding is $575 to $775
(price without installation)
|Awning is $450 to $600
Casement s $650 to $850
Sliding is $800 to $1,200
(price without installation)
Vinyl and aluminum window frames are pretty similar at first glance. They both come in a wide color and finish range, and you can find all possible configurations, like:
- Single-hung windows
- Single-pane windows
- Double-hung windows
- Multi-pane windows
However, these materials are entirely different. Aluminum frames are thin, so the glass pane is more sizable. Vinyl window frames are conventional, typically mimic traditional options, and are a bit thicker.
Nowadays, you can find a wood-grain vinyl window look, but the case is more complicated with aluminum. You can theoretically coat it to look like wood, but it can’t achieve a truly realistic look.
Your choice will depend on your home’s look. Vinyl windows are a better option for traditional houses and bungalows, while aluminum frames suit better for homes built in a modern style.
Since vinyl is versatile, you can find it in numerous styles and even apply texture or print patterns on its surface. On the other hand, aluminum is soft, making it an excellent material to mold into desired shapes.
As I have already mentioned, aluminum is soft, making it an unsuitable material for fasteners. Therefore, frames of this metal typically have screws and rivets made of steel or zinc. The downsides of these metals include fading, corroding, and consequential damaging the vinyl below.
Unlike aluminum frames typically molded of one piece of metal, vinyl has edges, seams, and corners. Additionally, vinyl warps and cracks quicker since it sheds heat slowly and can’t stand extreme temperature changes well.
Windows with vinyl frames are more attractive than those made of aluminum. Their advantage is that you can choose among numerous finishes, but their thickness is less appealing, particularly in modern homes.
It is pretty challenging to paint vinyl, and matching the exact color is almost impossible. On the other hand, you can re-paint aluminum window frames in the same color as the original.
Both window frame types are durable and resistant to damage, but aluminum is prone to fading and corrosion. Plus, fasteners made of steel or zinc corrode over time.
Vinyl is a consistent material, so any damage on its surface won’t spoil its look. The problem with painted aluminum frames is the visibility of even the slightest damage. As soon as something chips or scratches its surface, the metal will appear underneath immediately.
While vinyl hardly withstands extreme temperature changes, stronger aluminum is durable regardless of the environmental conditions.
You can expect your vinyl windows to last approximately 20 to 30 years. The problem is that temperature changes cause this flexible material to get distorted and warped over the years. Models made of aluminum have a longer lifespan and typically last over 40 years.
You can get vinyl and aluminum windows customized to your home style, but variation levels depend on the manufacturer. It is possible to bend them into desired shapes and even create circles and arches of aluminum.
It is better to hire a professional to install both window types, but it is possible to do a DIY project when installing vinyl ones.
However, such a decision can cause installation errors and diminish this flexible material’s advantages. Aluminum is a rigid material requiring complicated and time-consuming installation, so it is better to avoid doing it alone.
Aluminum windows require low maintenance, but properly installed windows made of vinyl are even better. There is no need to maintain them at all.
In most cases, you should solve the problem with condensation, rust, and mold growth when choosing an aluminum option. Plus, it is necessary to have the moving parts lubricated to prevent corrosion.
Vinyl windows are less prone to condensation than those made of aluminum. The heat transfer typical for aluminum causes condensation, particularly in cold regions. Once condensation seeps between the wall and window, you will face rot and mold development.
Since aluminum is recyclable, windows containing frames made of this metal are considered eco-friendly. Unfortunately, they are not energy-efficient enough.
Vinyl releases harmful gases during production and is not biodegradable, affecting the environment negatively. On the other hand, windows made of this material are more energy efficient, reducing electricity consumption.
A return on vinyl windows investment is about 74%, making this window type one of the best home investments. Most other window styles, including those made of aluminum, come with a return on investment of approximately 60%. In other words, vinyl windows have a better resale value.
Durable and affordable vinyl windows are a better and more popular option for residential use. However, they lack structural strength, making this window type inadequate for commercial buildings.
Thanks to aluminum strength, most modern urban commercial buildings have installed windows made of this material. Their price makes this option less attractive for residential homes.
The new window price is among the vital aspects when deciding to install them or replace old ones. Typically, vinyl windows are about 33 to 58% less expensive than aluminum ones. Their final cost depends on the manufacturer, window quality, and possibly required additional features.
You can find vinyl windows for $250 to $600, while aluminum windows come in a price range of $400 to $1,200. The vinyl window installation will cost an additional $250 per one, while aluminum window installation costs are higher. You should pay approximately $350 per piece.
Some experts estimate that replacing six vinyl windows costs about $3,155 on average. On the other hand, you should set aside approximately $4,700 for six replacement windows made of aluminum. Plus, you should add the cost of labor to that number.
According to the national average, the window installation costs $5,026, but the price depends on the region and amount of work. In most cases, you should set aside $2,585 to $7,480 for labor expenses.
Both window types are popular options among homeowners nowadays. They are durable, require low maintenance, and come at a reasonable price, so deciding which one is better can be challenging.
The best way to make the right decision is to pay attention to the details and compare both materials before purchasing.