What is better? Aluminium or PVCu? the debate has been ongoing for a while and variations of this subject are typed into Google regularly.
The “what is better, aluminium or pvc” debate has no real answer. On the one hand the double glazing company that does not offer aluminium may discredit the product if they want to sell pvc (perhaps those offering only pvc to the market would care to comment on how you overcome a customer asking about aluminium?)
On the other hand, I know of double glazing firms that only do aluminium who similarly give their reasons to the customer who asks about pvc.
Both aluminium and pvc window and door products serve their respective markets, however aluminium has several distinct advantages over pvcu.
In the end, presented with the two products side by side and cost issue aside, I have yet to meet a customer who did not prefer the aluminium window. For one reason alone. AESTHETICS.
There is no doubt that the customer will always prefer the slimmer sight lines of aluminium. Presented with the correct facts about both products again, price issue aside, the customer will always choose aluminium. Anyone who offers both products is welcome to comment. What is better? Aluminium or pvcu?
The price issue will always be the deciding factor. It is unfair to compare the two products like for like. PVCu windows are mass produced, aluminium remains a hand assembled crafted product with all its associated additional costs. PVCu because its a plastic is by it’s nature cheaper than aluminium that is a metal. Metal is more expensive than plastic. The price argument whilst important to the person paying the bill is weak insofar as you are not technically comparing like for like.
Most things can be governed by cost, however to those where cost is not an issue, they will always choose aluminium. Architects will always prefer aluminium over pvcu. Again it is good to ask why they do so.
We now come to the issue of thermal efficiency. With today’s energy rated windows again this is a weak argument. Anyone attempting to tell the customer that aluminium windows are not as thermally efficient is misleading the customer. Aluminium windows are available in A, B and C rated forms like pvc.
The quality of an aluminium window cannot be put aside. Not only is the polyester powder coating guaranteed for 25 years, I challenge anyone to find me a pvc installation that under normal exposed conditions looks anything like an aluminium installation after 15 or 20 years. PVC windows were not designed to have a long life with every meaning of the word! Already we talk about “replacing the replacements” as a future growth market.
The environmental credentials of aluminium compared to pvc again cannot be compared. This is a long and separate topic altogether but do the right research and the results will speak for themselves. Aluminium on environmental credentials simply puts pvc to shame. Fact.
PVC windows by and large remain only suitable for residential installations. Those of us who have been involved in residential and commercial jobs will know what I refer to here. Yes many of you have installed pvc windows in schools but ultimately they were designed for and intended for dwellings.
I have spent years replacing failed pvc doors (and their hardware) installed in schools, shopfronts and commercial buildings which after a matter of a few months have not been fit for purpose. No pvc door is able to withstand anything more than a normal residential environment where the door is opened and closed a few times a day. PVC Windows are unsuitable for coastal, swimming pool environments, heavy grime environments and more.
One only has to look at the recent development of flats and riverside/other developments and how few buildings have pvc windows. Aluminium is chosen most of the time.
Security. Aluminium by it’s very nature is a stronger material. Whilst pvcu windows can pass Secured by Design, BS 7950 and other standards, the simple fact that they require reinforcing demonstrates how weak plastic is. Aluminium is inherently stronger than pvcu.
It is a known fact that aluminium windows came before upvc windows and at the time these windows were invariably silver anodised, in a hardwood subframe and either single or double glazed. They were also externally beaded aluminium windows.
The very first upvc windows that came on the market had two common features:
1. They were a copy of an aluminium window in their design.
2. They were externally beaded windows.
It was only when the weakness of the plastic bead was evident did the pvc industry revert to internally beaded. Separate posts on this internally versus externally beaded debate can be seen here and here.
The debate on this can go on forever. Ultimately the customer chooses what they like and what they can afford. The good thing about these debates is that they bring product awareness to us all.
This is also the purpose of this website to inform and advise. Those who know me are aware I also work with pvc on a daily basis. Many of us still are not aware of what today’s aluminium windows can do and a further post here offers an insight into what is better? Aluminium or PVCu.