All About Aluminum Windows
For a modern homeowner, aluminum windows are a great option. They are durable, have a slim profile, and are easy to maintain. Aluminum window frames are designed in the same shape as most vinyl or fiberglass windows. The aluminum is melted down and placed in a mold that gives it a bunch of hollow chambers within. Thermal breaks are strategically put into different sections of the frame to give it a higher level of insulation since aluminum is an effective heat conductor. These molded sections are usually screwed or welded together.
The Benefits of Aluminum Windows
Aluminum windows are a sleek attractive option for homeowners seeking a modern look due to their shiny and slim design. Aluminum is one of the most durable frame materials available and it will handle weathering and temperature changes well.
Most people choose to leave aluminum bare when having their windows installed, but aluminum can be painted as well. Painted aluminum requires more maintenance as it will have to be repainted periodically so if you decide to go with aluminum window frames, you might want to leave them as is to avoid extra upkeep.
The Cons of Aluminum Windows
Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. It’s used for wiring and in heat sinks in many electronic components. Heat travels more easily through the frame, making it less efficient than other frame materials. Aluminum frames usually come with thermal breaks and other insulating measures, but they still aren’t as efficient as other frame options available.
Aluminum frames are the second most expensive behind wood. While aluminum is very durable and holds up to weathering better than most other frame types, it can dent easily if mishandled. Dented aluminum windows are difficult to repair and often have to be replaced or filled and painted to mask the dent.
What are Thermal Breaks?
Thermal breaks are spaces between sections of an aluminum frame. Aluminum frames are mostly hollow on the inside and the chambers that make up the frame are disconnected from one another. Each open section where the two sides don’t connect is a thermal break, and within these breaks, insulators and resins are inserted. This makes the frame more durable and cuts down on the pathways for heat to travel through the aluminum.
When shopping for aluminum windows, it’s important to ask about the frame’s thermal breaks and to look at a cross section of the frame to compare the number of breaks between frames. A frame with more breaks will generally be more efficient overall.
While aluminum frames are more expensive than vinyl or fiberglass, they hold up to weathering more effectively and are aesthetically pleasing in modern homes. They are less expensive and more durable than wood frames and with the addition of thermal breaks, they are more energy efficient than the aluminum frames on the market 20 years ago.