What's great about aluminum windows?
In a nutshell, lots! ENERGY STAR models made with special breaks to greatly reduce thermal conduction make aluminum windows suitable for most climates, And although there are beautiful aluminum windows for every architectural style, there are certain situations in which aluminum's attributes make these windows uniquely suitable:
- High wind areas: Aluminum can gently flex and is impact-resistant. Its strength-to-thickness ratio is better than any other window frame material. Some companies like PGT make models with hurricane ratings.
- Contemporary architecture: Go ahead, play with geometry and irregular grids. The strength of aluminum lets your design frame individual sections of your view or glass facade with the minimum amount of frame material.
- Stucco homes: Stucco is becoming increasingly popular as a weather-resistant exterior cladding for homes of many styles. Strong, slim aluminum windows recess quietly into stucco walls with minimum loss of light from framing materials.
- Pest-prone areas: If termites or carpenter ants are prevalent in your area, they can't chomp and tunnel through aluminum!
- Noisy areas: Aluminum is great at noise reduction.
Do these capabilities make aluminum windows expensive?
Extreme climate elements like heat, cold, or corrosion suggest either buying the best quality possible or facing frequent replacement. Sample prices: For very mild climates a 3-by-5, off-the-shelf, single-paned aluminum slider window is certainly inexpensive up front at about $130. If you choose an ENERGY STAR model with features like double panes, a thermal break and low-e coatings, a ballpark price for a 4-by-6 uninstalled slider is $200 or more. Hurricane-rated windows may be double the cost of thermal-break windows.
Who makes these windows?
Many of the major manufacturers who make windows from vinyl, fiberglass, or clad wood also make windows with energy efficient aluminum frames. Among brands with all aluminum or aluminum clad lines are Milgard, PGT, Marvin, Pella, Atrium, Alcoa, and Jeld-wen.
Styles, types, and colors
Aluminum windows come in almost any architectural style available in other window frame materials, from country and contemporary to Craftsman and custom. The same is true for types--double and single hung, slider, casement, hopper, awning, bay--you name it. Colors may be more limited than other window materials if ordered from the manufacturer, but many aluminum windows are paintable. You're not stuck for decades with the color you choose today.
Many aluminum windows are energy efficient
If a bargain basement aluminum window is little more than single-paned glass sandwiched between carelessly joined aluminum strips, it may only keep out rain and wind. At the other end of the spectrum you'll find extra-thick, ENERGY STAR, aluminum frames with polymer-laminated, double panes that resist thermal conduction, high winds and flying objects. The latter may also provide security protection. Of course there are models between these two extremes. The ENERGY STAR label is key.
Get more info
You could spend hours scouting manufacturers for product info or you can talk to contractors who are in touch with manufacturers day in and day out. Filling out the form on this page will put you in touch with local experts who can save you time by answering questions, providing product choices and giving you a bid on your new aluminum windows.