PVC and Aluminum windows: Advantages and Disadvantages

PVC and Aluminum windows comparison
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PVC and aluminum windows, comparing advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to considering a reform of our home or the construction of a new one of the key points is the choice of the windows that we will place. We do not talk about its size or the place of placement of the same. We discuss here the material of manufacture of the carpentry.

In many cases, we end up opting for one or another option based on false myths and half-truths. They have been warming in the general subconscious throughout the years. Then we will expose some of the qualities and disadvantages of the two main materials. That is used today mostly in window profiles: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and aluminum.

Artistic comparison of PVC and Aluminum windows

PVC and Aluminum windows comparison

At the level of artistic finish, the choice of one or another option will always be closely linked to the personal perceptions of each one. But it is true that there are a number of qualities that can make us opt for one or another material in relation to aesthetic functionalities. Thus, based on the fact that the standard finish of PVC would be white and aluminum the metallic color. It is usually associated on the one hand with more classic homes. PVC and window profiling in more modern designs, aluminum. But we must not close ourselves to that initial perception:

PVC

There is a wide range of colors. It is true that the versatility of aluminum does not reach. In any case, virtually any finish, whether rustic or modern, can be achieved with PVC.

The profile of the carpentry usually requires an important thickness. It gives rise to window frames and exterior doors with a lot of packaging and that usually marry perfectly with stylish finishes.

Aluminum

There are many aesthetic finishes to support when facing a housing design. Lacquered, textured, the infinity of colors, imitations of wood and other materials. Including mixed carpentry of aluminum with other materials. Therefore, the perception of aluminum as the finishing of modern houses is an incomplete concept since it adapts to any style. No matter how simple.

It is true that aluminum carpentry is more often used in avant-garde buildings due to its thickness. The thin profile and capable of supporting large windows makes aluminum suitable for minimalist designs that look for clean spaces without finishing details.

Insulation comparison of PVC and aluminum windows

PVC and Aluminum windows comparison

The Current Technical Building Code specifies that the windows which are installed in new construction and renovations must achieve a high level of thermal insulation, regardless of the material used. In this regard when evaluating the different materials for carpentry, we must take into account the so-called aluminum RPT.  Otherwise, it would not meet the requirements of the CTE.

In any case, the variety of windows with different accessory materials and the different number of air chambers. It is always best to consult the technical sheet of the window in question. In it, you should consult the thermal coefficient. It also called thermal transmittance. That coefficient will be the sum of the insulating capacities of both the carpentry and the glass. So, concepts such as triple crystal or intelligent glass will also have an impact here. Below we detail the different insulating capacities of PVC and aluminum.

PVC

PVC has a very low thermal conductivity. In fact, it is considered an insulating material. As such, it does not require added components to guarantee a high insulating capacity. PVC, however, are usually composed of several air chambers. Together with the insulating capacity of the material itself. Give rise to a carpentry that perfectly separates the interior environment from the outside.

The profiling and the entire window assembly do not require practically manipulation from its location beyond the placement of the glass. This implies that the sealing is practically perfect. Giving rise to a highly efficient sealing generation. In the same way, the appearance of small defects or deformations due to the alteration of the original material is minimized.

Aluminum

Due to its high thermal conductivity, aluminum requires a series of processes. That makes it possible to talk about aluminum RPT. Laminates of insulating material are installed inside the profile structure to achieve. It breaks that is otherwise not possible.

The fact of carrying out the installation of the insulating material implies a manipulation of the original material. It can suppose later deformations. Evidently, can suppose problems of isolation to happen in points of thermal leakage.

The correct handling and installation of aluminum windows to maintain their strength and durability. Also, avoid the transmission of temperature and condensation involve a considerable increase in relation to a simple aluminum window.

Condensation comparison of PVC and Aluminum windows

PVC and Aluminum windows comparison

One of the biggest concerns when installing the windows and the corresponding carpentry is condensation. It is commonly said that a window “sweats” when we see those drops of water. That is present in the interior of the house. This happens when the temperature is very different from the outside and inside and the water is present in the warmest part.

The best way to avoid condensation, confirm that the house is well ventilated. Either with the opening of the windows ten minutes a day or with some mechanical ventilation system. Excessive condensation can result in deterioration of walls, curtains, etc. Here also the differences differ from one material to another.

PVC

PVC does not usually generate condensation in profiling due to its low thermal conductivity. A perfect seal would prevent water from being generated inside the house.

Aluminum

The great attack that has always been launched against aluminum windows has always been precisely that of condensation. And it is that until the development of aluminum RPT. The certain thing is that it was a material that generated a great amount of interior humidity. Again, as with the insulation, the fact of reinforcing the profiling satisfactorily, leaving properly sealed all the carpentry. It is an increase but achieves a performance almost equal to that of PVC.

Strength and durability comparison of PVC and Aluminum windowsPVC and Aluminum windows comparison

Both in one and in another case the maintenance required by Aluminum and PVC windows is practically nil. With occasional washes with soap and water and a correct maintenance of hardware and glass. The durability of both materials is sufficient to accompany the useful life of a home. However, it is important to take into account certain conditions that affect each of the variants.

PVC

It is a very long-lived material that gives rise to conditions of resistance to inclement weather, from sunning to acid rain. It makes it remain unchanged.

There was a false myth around PVC windows. It came to say that white PVC yellowed with the passage of time. An argument that can be proven wrong by taking a look at any house with windows of this type with a longevity of more than 10 years.

The corners of the profiles and frames of PVC windows are usually welded. It means that we are talking. For practical purposes, practically one piece. This means that the possibility of wear and deterioration due to use decreases.

Aluminum

Aluminum itself can have an aesthetic deterioration due to possible scratches or marks. If the aesthetic finish that has been given to the carpentry is of good quality serves as a protective barrier for the metal.

As we have already commented, in order to obtain the thermal breakage capacity, it is necessary that the aluminum windows go through a series of processes to modify their air chambers and include insulating materials in their structure. This leads to possible alterations of these “exogenous” materials. If they have not been incorporated correctly, may end up modifying the layout and structure of the carpentry resulting in its deterioration.

As for the corner, in this case, they are placed mechanically (with brackets and screws). They add one more component to the grid that. Again, if not executed correctly, may end up causing problems of tightness over time.

Sustainability comparison of PVC and aluminum windows

PVC and Aluminum windows comparison

We are not talking here about efficiency or the ability to develop a well-insulated and sealed house. But about the materials themselves and their relationship with the environment.

Here we are perhaps facing the point that generates more controversy because the manufacturers of one or another type of carpentry defend their product from information contrary to it. In many cases launching attacks in that regard against its competitor. In any case, compared to wood, which would be the most respectful material with the environment? Both PVC and aluminum have their drawbacks. As also its advantages.

PVC

In the case of PVC, it is a material that in its production produces the emission of noxious and even carcinogenic gases. However, the polymerization and production processes of PVC as such have been purified at this point. So that, the manufacture of carpentry and other resources is achieved with almost only the emission of water vapor.

There has also been talking about the emissions that may be generated in the event of a fire. In that sense, the current PVC is a material that is practically fireproof and, in fact, self-extinguishing.

Aluminum

In the processes of traditional pre-treatment and handling of aluminum, many toxic products were used, which, to date, have been virtually eliminated. In fact, even the paintings that are currently used are usually ecological paints that are not polluting at all.

The other criticism that was made of aluminum is its extraction process in the bauxite mines and the consequent ecological footprint that implies. However, today, around 80% of the aluminum used is recycled. So, the incidence of extraction is virtually zero at the ecological level.

Comparision of price PVC and aluminum windows

PVC and Aluminum windows comparison

It may be a determining factor for many, although perhaps not so much. And the point of departure is the reference that PVC carpentry is 10% more expensive than the standard aluminum RPT. However, if we want aluminum windows treated and sealed with the care and professionalism due to match the PVC levels of insulation and tightness. We will find that the aluminum carpentry not only equal but also exceed in price to that of PVC.

Final thought,

In any case, each person for their home will assess which is the material that best meets their needs. Perhaps it is the versatile aluminum, whose aesthetic and structural flexibility due to its lightness makes it ideal for any type of home. On the other hand, maybe it is the efficient and warm PVC, less adaptable but in the same way functional and quite versatile. Here we have tried to explain the advantages and disadvantages of PVC and Aluminum windows. The decision at the end will always fall on the owner of the house. Since it will be who will enjoy (or suffer) their windows.


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