Aluminum windows are structurally strong, come in many colors, and provide a sleek, modern look.
If you’re searching for a mid-priced window, aluminum is one to consider. These windows are a top choice for modern architecture and, unlike wood, are low-maintenance. Older aluminum windows have a bad rap for inferior energy efficiency, but many of today’s models feature thermally improved designs.
If you’re wondering if aluminum windows are a good pick for your home, here’s everything you need to know.
What are Aluminum Windows?
Aluminum is a lightweight metal that is soft and easy to shape. But aside from being malleable, it’s also strong, making it an excellent window material.
Aluminum windows are powder-coated with enamel and can have a smooth or textured feel. They come in numerous sizes, and you can get them in just about any color. Since aluminum is strong, these windows often have a sleek, low-profile frame suited to modern architecture.
Types of Aluminum Windows
You can find aluminum windows in just about any style, including:
Aside from the window style, there are a few types of aluminum frames.
In the past, aluminum was considered one of the least energy-efficient options since it conducts heat. But manufacturers now offer improved designs featuring a thermal break in the frame for increased energy efficiency.
Aside from thermally improved frames, you can find many aluminum-clad windows. These windows are typically wood, with an aluminum coating on the exterior. With this design, you get the insulative benefits of wood with the protection and low maintenance of aluminum. The window interior is wood, which you can paint or stain.
Although rare, some aluminum-clad windows have a vinyl frame and sash rather than wood.
What’s Cheaper – Aluminum or Vinyl?
Vinyl windows are about 30% cheaper than aluminum windows. While aluminum has a few benefits over vinyl, vinyl windows have lower maintenance and higher energy efficiency. Both options are durable and come in many colors and sizes.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Windows
If you’re considering purchasing aluminum windows, here’s a look at the pros and cons.
- Strong and lightweight – Aluminum is a strong but lightweight metal. Because of its strength, aluminum frames aren’t as bulky as vinyl.
- Comes in any color – The color choices for aluminum windows are limitless.
- Thermally improved windows available – An aluminum window with a thermal break will stop heat transference and improve energy efficiency.
- Low maintenance – While you need to clean aluminum windows regularly, you don’t have to worry about refinishing as you do with wood.
- Can repaint – Unlike vinyl, you can repaint an aluminum window if you choose to.
- Not as energy efficient – Since aluminum is a heat conductor, it’s less energy efficient than vinyl, fiberglass, or wood.
- Can dent, fade, and corrode – While damage to a high-quality aluminum window is unlikely, these windows can dent, fade, or corrode over time or when not well-maintained.
- More expensive than vinyl – Expect to shell out 30% more for an aluminum window vs. vinyl.
What Brands Sell Aluminum Windows?
Many top brands only carry aluminum-clad windows. But you can still find all-aluminum windows from a few leading manufacturers, including:
If you’re interested in black aluminum windows, you can find them from any of the manufacturers listed above.
When Should You Replace Aluminum Windows?
The average aluminum window will last between 20 and 30 years, depending on your climate and how well you take care of it. While aluminum is a low-maintenance material, you need to clean it at least 2-4 times per year, and the hardware and hinges should be lubricated as needed.
Are Aluminum Windows Cheaper than Wood?
While pricing varies by brand, most aluminum windows are cheaper than wood. An aluminum-clad window might be your best bet if you’re debating between the two.
These windows feature a wood frame with an aluminum coating on the outside. They’re comparable in price to wood windows.
What are the Best Alternatives to Aluminum Windows?
Not sure if aluminum windows are for you? These are the best alternatives:
- Fiberglass – Fiberglass windows are similar in strength to aluminum, providing a thin frame. They have a modern look, are energy efficient, and are maintenance-free. The biggest downside to fiberglass is that it doesn’t come in as many styles or colors and is a little more expensive.
- Vinyl – Many homeowners have difficulty choosing between vinyl and aluminum window frames. Vinyl is less expensive and offers higher energy efficiency. The most significant disadvantage is that it doesn’t look as modern as aluminum.
- Aluminum clad– Aluminum clad consists of a vinyl or wood window with an aluminum coating on the outside. The result is a more energy-efficient window with the look of aluminum you love. Plus, if you choose aluminum-clad wood, you can reap the benefits of an interior wood frame.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Should you have aluminum windows if you live by the ocean?
Standard aluminum windows are not a good choice for oceanside homes – the salty air can lead to corrosion. But brands like Marvin offer coastline aluminum products suited for coastal homes.
Can you paint aluminum windows black?
Yes, you can successfully paint aluminum windows any color, including black. But, before you give it a go, check your manufacturer’s warranty to make sure painting your windows won’t void the warranty.
Do aluminum windows sweat?
Older aluminum windows can “sweat” or produce condensation. Aluminum window sweating typically happens in the winter when it’s cold outside and hot in the house. Most of today’s aluminum windows with thermal breaks don’t have this problem.
Do aluminum windows rust?
Aluminum windows can rust – especially those that don’t have thermal breaks or protective powdered coatings. The best way to keep your aluminum windows from rusting is to clean them with an aluminum cleaner 2-4 times per year.
There’s a myth that all aluminum windows are bad since this material is a heat conductor. The truth is that many of today’s aluminum windows are thermally improved for better energy efficiency. Plus, aluminum is a strong, malleable material that manufacturers can mold into thin window frames and sashes for a modern look.
You can get aluminum windows in any color you’d like, with a few top brands still offering them. The biggest downside is that these windows cost more than vinyl and aren’t as energy efficient or low-maintenance.