What is the Difference Between Aluminium, Timber & UPVC Windows?
Aluminium, Timber & UPVC Windows – Which one would suit your home and how much do they cost?
If you have reached the point where it’s time to replace your windows, there is quote a lot of choice in the market for supply, but what type of window should you choose? Classic Timber, sleek Aluminium or versatile UPVC?
Here is a quick buyers guide to the main features and costs of each design.
1UPVC (PVC-u) Double Glazed Windows.
Opinion can quite often be divided about UPVC replacement windows. Some folks love them; others think they are just the worst thing ever invented.
If you have yet to decide which camp you are in, here are some points that may help you choose.
UPVC windows have suffered in terms of reputation over the years, mainly based on the very cheap and poorly made examples that can be found in the market. Having said that, if you do your homework and deal with a reputable supplier & installer, there are plenty of high quality UPVC window designs around.
UPVC does not expand or contract to the same extent as timber or metal, and so the frames can remain stable and not swell or shrink, which mostly leads to badly fitting windows.
The frames make use of chambers and metal reinforcing to aid strength, stability. The internal chambers also help a little with the energy efficiency.
It is also a natural insulating material. Also, for all intents & purposes, it’s inert and non-reactive to most air pollutants (Acid rain, salt from the sea air if you live on the coast, smog etc.). Woodlice, woodworm or other wood damaging insects don’t effect it either!
On the energy efficiency side, you can find A++ rated UPVC windows, which is the highest rating at present in the market.
White remains a popular choice, but in terms of other options, the range of coloured UPVC windows (foil colours) tops out at around 20. Not all suppliers may have all the colours in their range simultaneously. You can also select a wood-grain effect finished surface.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Cost is one of the biggest advantages. UPVC windows prices are some of the lowest in the market. But be prudent, because going for some cheap UPVC window products can store problems for you later on.
Supply is plentiful, you can get them wherever you live. There is also a huge style choice in terms of how you configure your window.
There is a decent colour range, which includes wood grain. Foiled colours (the coloured surface is a heat & pressure bonded film) go up to around 20 shades. You can have them painted to change the colour, but make sure you choose a reputable source. If you don’t do it right, the paint will peel.
Everybody knows that they last a long time and don’t take a lot of looking after. Keep them clean & the moving parts lubricated. You can expect 20+ years from them if you treat them well.
Disadvantages lie with poorer quality products. They can discolour, or warp. UPVC windows in some cases, such as a listed building or where they are out of character with the property, may not be allowed to be fitted by the local authority, so please check first.
- So, in summary, if you are looking for a versatile product that is priced reasonably, UPVC windows are a very good choice for your home.
2Aluminium Double Glazed Windows.
Once considered ugly, cold & cheap looking, the latest Aluminium window designs are now highly energy efficient, long lasting and come with top class looks.
Modern manufacturing techniques have allowed for the development of effective thermal breaks, virtually eliminating heat / cold transfer from one side of the frame to the other. As Aluminium is a very effective conductor, this is essential to give the design high standards of energy efficiency.
The newest powder coat paint finishes give a huge range of colour choice (more than 150 shades) and can also produce a wood-grain textured finish which mimics the appearance of timber.
Aluminium double glazed window frames are very light & strong. These properties make them perfect for wider & higher span openings, an area where UPVC frames may struggle to cope.
There is also a “Hybrid” product in the range. Aluminium clad windows use timber frames. However, an Aluminium skin is featured on the external surface. Inside, it looks like a traditional timber window.
On the left you can see a cross section showing the thermal break. On the right is a cross section of triple glazed Aluminium clad window.
Advantages & Disadvantages
The visual appearance of modern Aluminium windows is one of their top features, they look great. Especially when used with a wood-grain effect finished surface.
The frames don’t rust, or oxidise like in “the good old days,” and so they keep their look for decades.
The colour choice is huge; you can get almost any colour you like in RAL powder coat finish. The paint is “baked” on and bonds with the metal, so you don’t’ get peeling or flaking over time.
Maintenance requirement are very low, just keep them clean and lubricate the moving parts as required.
The only real disadvantage is the Aluminium windows price range. The cost of Aluminium windows is higher, especially when compared to UPVC.
- So, in summary, if you have the budget, Aluminium windows are an excellent choice for your home.
3Wooden Double Glazed Windows.
For some, the only window to have is a wooden window. Unlike UPVC or Aluminium, where sometimes the style of the home or planning regulations prevent it, they can be used in any type of home. No matter if is a historically significant listed building or a 1 bed flat in a high rise.
Softwood windows are thought of by some folks as “hard work” to look after. True, you will have to do more maintenance with timber than with Vinyl or Metal, but if you do look after your timber windows they can last 50+ years. In any event, most modern softwood or hardwood double glazed windows will be pre-treated with some form of preservative to help counter-act wood rot.
Hardwood is more durable than softwood for a window, but comes at a price premium. However, a “Wood Window Alliance” product can be certified to last at least 60 years.
Triple Glazed Timber Window Cross Section
An alternative is to look for engineered timber windows. This wood is a laminate of wood sections that is more stable and less susceptible to swelling or shrinkage that natural timber.
With regard to energy efficiency, much like Vinyl, timber is a very good insulator, greatly reducing heat / cold transfer.
Of course, you can paint or stain timber windows to any colour you like (within reason!), meaning you can match or contrast your home as you prefer.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Hardwood or Softwood windows look great and can sometimes make you home more attractive to a potential buyer (especially if they hate UPVC!). That can often translate into getting a better price when you sell.
You can get them in almost any shape or size for any location in the UK. You can fit them to any home, with no potential planning restrictions from your local authority. If you look after timber windows properly, they will outlast UPVC by decades.
The disadvantage that most often comes to mind is having to re-paint or stain them every few years. People also have concerns about wood rot or insect damage degrading the timber over the years.
Hardwood windows prices are likely to be amongst the highest in the market.
- So, in summary, timber windows can look great & last a very long time if you look after them properly. But you will need a bigger budget than for UPVC if you go for hardwood.
Cost guide: Aluminium, Timber & UPVC Windows
It’s not that simple to compare like-for-like when it comes to replacement windows prices, but the cost guide below can give you a general idea of the likely cost to fit windows to the whole house.
How much does it cost to fit replacement windows?
To get an accurate cost for your replacement windows, it’s best to have your property surveyed & measured in order to produce a written quotation (there is a general price guide here)
If you would like free quotation for the cost of double glazing in your home, simply send us a few details from our quotes page using the button below: