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Aluminum Windows vs Vinyl Windows | Replacement Windows Aluminum vs Vinyl | Comparisons & Compare Print Bookmark and Share

Replacement windows aluminum vs. vinyl - what is the better choice? These two window frame options each have very distinct pros and cons over one another. What is the right window choice for your home and family? That will depend on a host of factors, including your budget, where you live, the type of home you live in, etc. Our comparison of vinyl windows vs. aluminum windows includes a brief description of each window type, along with the specific advantages and disadvantages of each.

If you have additional questions relating to how different window frame or styles of windows stack up against on another, please refer to our comparisons of replacement windows.

Aluminum Replacement Windows

Aluminum replacement windows are versatile, come a wide variety of pre-set and custom shapes and designs and can be painted nearly any color. They are attractive, although they have an industrial or commercial look to them. Aluminum windows are very durable, have great strength (allowing a thin frame) and are effective at blocking out sound. They require little maintenance, are easy to clean, and very resistant to dents, cracking and breaking. Aluminum is a good choice for mild climates, while not recommended as much for severely hot or cold climates.

Advantages of Aluminum Replacement Windows

Strength / Durability: Aluminum is three times as strong as vinyl window frames. Once properly fitted to a window, an aluminum window is very tough to loosen or dislodge.

Price / Cost: Aluminum window cost falls somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum - not as expensive as wood windows, equivalent to the mid to upper price range for vinyl replacement windows. For more on window pricing, see our replacement window cost estimator.

Maintenance: Aluminum windows require little maintenance and are very resistant to rust, cracking, splitting or shrinking.

Variety and Colors: Aluminum windows are available in a wide array of colors and sizes. Although aluminum window manufacturers are less common than vinyl window manufacturers, there are still

Market Share: For the most part, aluminum windows are nice looking , although it is somewhat industrial or commercial looking compare to vinyl replacement windows. In fact, aluminum windows have a huge market share when it comes to commercial buildings. As for the residential market, aluminum window's share of the market has dwindled significantly over the past 20 years.

Reducing Noise: Because Aluminum windows have more mass vs. vinyl windows, they will stop more external noise from reaching the interior of a home. Aluminum is nearly 3 times heavier than vinyl (and much stronger.)

Manufacturers: Amsco, Atrium Windows & Doors, Champion Windows, Gentek, Milgard Windows, Napco., Pella Windows, Reynolds Mfg., Traco and many others.

Weaknesses of Aluminum Replacement Windows

Aluminum windows have one huge drawback -- they are great conductors of heat and cold and are therefore extremely poor when it comes to energy-efficiency. For this reason, aluminum windows are used primarily for commercial buildings and applications. Many builders are willing to sacrifice the heat loss/gain for the strength that aluminum window frames offer for large window openings.

Vinyl Replacement Windows

Vinyl windows are an extremely popular choice for residential window frames. Constructed of polyvinyl chloride, a compound very similar to plastic, vinyl replacement windows provide durability, are highly energy-efficient and require little maintenance.

Advantages of Vinyl Replacement Windows

Heating and Cooling Costs: Vinyl replacement windows can significantly save on heating and cooling costs. With a relatively high R-value, vinyl is a poor conductor of heat and cold (unlike aluminum) and this translates into excellent energy efficiency. Vinyl replacement windows keeps the heat in during winter and keeps it out during the summer.

Variety and Colors: Vinyl windows now come in a huge variety of designs (from small casement windows to curved bay windows), colors and shades, meaning you no longer have to paint them to match your primary or secondary home color.

Durability: Built-in color makes vinyl windows resistant to scratching. In addition, they are highly resistant to corrosion, chipping, rotting and rusting. Vinyl windows do not need to be scraped or stained and stand up well to normal climate and weather over time.

Price / Cost: Perhaps the number one reason that vinyl windows are the most popular window frame is price. They run the gamut in price, from the cheapest on the market to mid range for premium, custom shaped vinyl windows. Whatever your budget, there is a vinyl window frame that suits your economic needs. For additional cost information, visit our vinyl replacement window pricing page.

Environmentally Friendly: While wood windows are often cast as the environmentally friendly window frame choice, vinyl replacement windows use less energy and emits less greenhouse gases in production, maximizes energy efficiency while in use, and can easily be recycled when you are finally ready for your next set of replacement windows.

Manufacturers: Just about every major replacement window manufacturer has a line of vinyl windows.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Replacement Windows

Like every window frame type, vinyl replacement windows do have several downsides. First, they can discolor when exposed to extreme hot or cold weather climates. Second, they can warp in extremely hot climates. Vinyl windows also tend to be more difficult to shape vs. aluminum windows. Because vinyl has a very low mass, it is less effective than aluminum windows at blocking noise and therefore must be thicker in volume to perform the same noise abatement as aluminum. Finally, most of the newer vinyl windows can't be painted, meaning once you buy them, you're stuck with the color.