Comparison of Vinyl & Aluminum Windows
Budget and location will determine the best choice
By Glyn Sheridan
Quality windows are a long-term investment in your home's value and beauty. Windows are an important component of any home, which only servces to underscore the importance of choosing the right kind. Two basic types of windows, aluminum and vinyl, can provide you with different benefits depending upon your budget and geographical location. Both window types are readily available from local lumberyards and do-it-yourself centers.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) offers a smooth, slightly flexible material for vinyl window sashes, frames and sills. Used for both new and replacement units, vinyl windows come in a handful of colors to match the homeowner's decor. Aluminum windows feature plain, clear-sealed or enameled color, and because aluminum is stronger than vinyl, the window unit may be less thick from back to front.
While homeowners choose vinyl windows more often than aluminum for looks and energy savings, commercial buildings opt for aluminum for its increased strength and security. Manufacturers of both aluminum and vinyl windows make stationary units, such as picture windows that do not open as well as operable windows that feature sliding frames, fold-out frames or roll-out casement ability.
In areas where winter temperatures are frigid, aluminum windows transfer the cold from outside to inside, making vinyl windows a more energy-efficient choice. However, special thermal breaks installed in some high-end aluminum windows reduce cold transfer and offer more efficiency.
Vinyl windows require little maintenance beyond checking and replacing caulking and weatherstripping annually. Since the color of vinyl windows runs all the way through the vinyl, a scratch or gouge will not reveal a different underlying color. Aluminum windows, however, feature enamel that may scratch allowing the exposed area to corrode. In cold climates there is the tendency for condensation to form on the inside of aluminium window frames, which can trickle down, leaving water on the window sill or on the wall beneath the window.
Standard aluminum windows are less expensive than vinyl windows, making them a budget-friendly choice for homeowners who live in temperate climates. However, the upgraded thermal-break aluminum windows are competitive in price to vinyl. Other window price considerations include the number of glass panes, window size, the inclusion of argon gas between the panes or UV protection.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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