Many people are under the impression that once they have made the decision to transition to, or build with, double glazed windows, all window-related considerations are now done and dusted. Installation can begin without further consultation, right? We hate to burst your bubble, but no.
Windows are much more complicated than homeowners realise. There are energy ratings to consider, options to coat or tint the glass, hinges to look at, and let’s not forget how you want them to open! But one of the most overlooked aspects of a window that can make or break its overall effectiveness is the material that the frame is made of. In Australia, these materials are typically aluminium, uPVC or timber. And each has its own unique properties that will affect your home lifestyle. Taking the time to mull over the operability, energy efficiency, maintenance requirements and insulative capabilities of your windows will only benefit you in the long run. After all, you’re going to be using them for decades, so you want to get it right! We compare two popular window frame materials: aluminium and uPVC, to assess which one comes out on top when combined with double glazed glass panes.
Aluminium window frames
Aluminium is the most commonly used material in double glazed window frames Australia-wide. While aluminium is championed for being incredibly durable, not many people realise that it is a very successful conductor of heat, which can be counterproductive when trying to keep your house cool in Summer.
Aluminium window frames typically are not as airtight as uPVC window frames. This can pose a problem when trying to keep cold, air-conditioned air within the house. It also means that drafts can be an issue in Winter. In Summer, when the sun beats down on your aluminium window frames, the metal will store the heat, transferring it into your home.
It’s true that aluminium window frames will last a very long time. However, if they aren’t appropriately coated, they are susceptible to rust and corrosion. If you live on the Australian coast, this is very bad news as salty sea breezes are a regular occurrence!
As mentioned above, it’s critical to stay on top of the cleaning and coating of your aluminium window frames to deter rust. Unfortunately, aluminium can also get cold very quickly in Winter, causing condensation to form. If not wiped down regularly, a buildup of mildew and mould can occur, which may eventually turn into rust.
Aluminium is on the pricey side. It’s expensive to manufacture and costly to buy.
uPVC window frames
uPVC window frames haven’t quite developed the following in Australia, that they enjoy in Europe and the United Kingdom. Often Australians don’t realise just how beneficial uPVC’s insulative qualities can be in keeping homes cool in a hot climate.
Double glazed uPVC window frames provide the best insulation for Australian homes. Not only in terms of temperature insulation, i.e. keeping the house cool in Summer and warm in Winter, but also by way of sound insulation.
uPVC window frames can last upwards of 25 years if maintained correctly. uPVC windows are UV stable and will not warp or crack under the pressures of the summer heat.
Window frames made from uPVC require very little maintenance. They don’t rust, rot or corrode over time. To clean uPVC window frames, all you need is soapy, warm water and a cloth.
Double glazed, uPVC window frames are much more affordable than a decent aluminium or thermally broken frame. They are more superior in energy efficient ratings as well. You can obtain cheaper aluminium frames but the energy efficient ratings on these certainly match the price you pay. Using uPVC will also save you more money on your energy bill because they are much more energy efficient, with a better overall U-value.