All About Aluminum Windows
For a modern homeowner, aluminum windows are a great option. They’re durable and easy to maintain, and they have a slim profile. 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 hollow chambers within. Thermal breaks are strategically put into different sections of the frame for 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
- Durability: Aluminum is one of the most durable frame materials available and it will handle weathering and temperature changes well.
- Aesthetic: Due to their slim design, aluminum windows are a sleek, attractive option for homeowners seeking a modern look. Although it requires more maintenance, aluminum frames can be painted.
The Cons of Aluminum Windows
- Less efficient: Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. 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.
- More expensive: Aluminum frames are the second most expensive behind wood windows. 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.
Are Aluminum Windows Right for Me?
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’re also less expensive and more durable than wood frames—and with the addition of thermal breaks, they’re much more energy efficient than the aluminum frames on the market 20 years ago.