Comparing Aluminum And Vinyl For Your Replacement Windows

If you have an older home, there's a good chance you have aluminum windows. They were very popular years ago, but today, vinyl windows are often the top choice. If it's time to replace your windows because you're renovating or you just want better energy efficiency, you may wonder if you should stay with aluminum frames or switch to vinyl. Here's how the two compare.

Energy Efficiency

Vinyl windows are generally more energy efficient than aluminum simply because aluminum allows for more heat loss. However, aluminum frames can be more energy efficient if you buy higher-end models. Also, when it comes to the glass, both frames can hold double pane, energy efficient glass, which in itself will lower your power bills. Aluminum frames made today are more energy efficient than frames made years ago, but the basic frames are not as efficient as those made from vinyl.

Maintenance Required

Both aluminum and vinyl are practically maintenance free. They don't rot or succumb to insect damage. Neither needs to be painted, so you won't have to worry about painting the frames over the years. To keep the frames looking like new, you'll have to wash them occasionally, but that's about all the maintenance they need. Aluminum doesn't rust, but it does pit over time. You don't need to repair the pits, but they may detract from the appearance of the windows.

Vinyl may fade in color slightly due to UV exposure. White vinyl is a popular choice for windows, so fading is not noticeable. However, if you choose a darker color for the vinyl frames, the color may slowly fade as the years pass. You can paint both aluminum and vinyl frames to hide these imperfections, but if you do so, that increases the amount of maintenance you'll need to do since the paint will eventually flake and need to be reapplied.


When it comes to impact resistance and strength, aluminum frames are superior. This may not be an important factor unless your area gets a lot of severe storms. That's why aluminum frames are popular in areas such as Florida where hurricanes are possible. In other parts of the country, vinyl frames are strong enough to stand up to the usual storms and high winds. Aluminum frames are also sturdy, fire resistant, and harder for intruders to damage.

When it's time to make your decision, it may just be a matter of personal choice. You may not like the appearance of aluminum frames, or you may prefer aluminum because they are less expensive. One thing to keep in mind is you can buy aluminum clad and vinyl clad windows as well. That means the frames are attractive wood on the inside but energy-efficient and maintenance-free vinyl or strong aluminum on the exterior side. For more information on replacing your windows, check out a site like