Woodgrain Aluminium Windows – what you need to know

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Nick Dardalis

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The market for timber windows is extensive and nothing beats the craftsmanship, quality, touch and appearance of a real wood window or door. However, timber windows are more expensive than their PVCu or aluminium alternatives.

aluminium woodgrain panels
This entrance porch is made from aluminium with a wood effect finish.  Notice the authentic appearance of the mitres, door panelling and hardware.

In this article we examine the options open to you if you are looking for wooed effect, or woodgrain, windows.

What are Woodgrain windows and doors?

A woodgrain window in any material other than timber is one which is designed to replicate an original timber window. Typical features include classic shades of wood such as walnut, oak, mahogany, rosewood, Irish oak and other finishes.

Woodgrain windows will also try to replicate the grain found in original wood windows. This is achieved in several different ways depending on the window material and how it is being treated.

Wood effect windows have been on the market as PVCu windows for many years already where homeowners have replaced original stained wood windows and want to match their appearance as much as possible.

How are PVCu woodgrain windows finished?

For PVCu windows a bare white or brown PVCu profile is covered with a Renolit or other woodgrain foil that is wrapped around the profile to give the required finish.

notice even on this superior pvcu window by residence 9 how bare profile is visible that is not foiled.
Notice even on this superior PVCu window by Residence 9 how bare profile is visible that is not foiled.

All window and door profiles, by their design have various grooves, slots and recesses that perform required and specific functions. Whether they are to hold locking systems in place, provide locking points for glazing beads or other important functions, they will be found on the majority of modern windows and doors.

One area where even the highest quality PVCu woodgrain windows are weak is that the foil applied to PVCu windows cannot coat these inside and unseen faces. Even though these faces are not seen when the window is shut, on an open window, bare profile is clear to see.

Whilst this may not be the most important factor in choosing windows and doors, it does demonstrate where the foiling process can be inconsistent and where aluminium woodgrain windows can do much better.

How woodgrain aluminium provides a superior quality finish.

High quality and upper market wood effect PVCu windows such as the timber look windows such as those available from Residence 9 are exceptional in their appearance and quality. They are an excellent PVCu alternative to a timber look window.

However even what is regarded as the very best in PVCu windows are still foiled.  Aluminium windows utilise the very best in powder coating technology to not only create an authentic looking wood effect window but also one that can look better on the inside and outside faces.

How are woodgrain aluminium windows made?

origin aluminium bifolding doors are one example of where this wood finish is used successfully
Origin aluminium bifolding doors are one example of where this wood finish is used successfully

Woodgrain aluminium windows and doors are coated with a variation on the powder coated finish first and the wood effect applied after. The wood effect coating is applied by covering the entire bar length of painted aluminium profile in a special bag that has the desired wood pattern printed on it.  The result is an aluminium window that is highly durable, very attractive in appearance and offers a beautiful wood pattern.

The air is sucked out of the bag and hand pressed along the entire profile. The profile is then placed in a sublimation oven that bakes the finish onto the aluminium profile at 200 degrees centigrade.  The wood effect “image” is transferred under heat to the powder coated profile.  The inks from the bag covering the profile will permeate the powder coated substrate by this advanced “sublimation” process.

At the end of the process the plain painted surface of the aluminium has a wood effect finish.  This process does not only extend to wood effects.  Granites, marble effects, stone effects and much more are all available under this technology, although not yet available with windows but widely available with other metal products.  This sublimation process is already used on other metals, glass, wood, plastics, ceramics and much more.

This provides a strong bond of the wood effect coating not just to the visible faces but the entire aluminium profile.  This is the advantage of this process used on aluminium – any surface whether two or three dimensional can be coated with great effect.

The many processes used in achieving this authentic wood finish to aluminium includes surface preparation and cleaning, application of the polyester powder and curing, preparation for sublimation and the oven cured finish.

What is the more durable woodgrain? Aluminium or PVCu?

Both woodgrain PVCu and aluminium windows have their respective woodgrain coatings applied in controlled environments that creates a high quality finish. Both types of windows will also come with their respective guarantees that will vary from product to product.

The real test of durability comes if frames are accidentally damaged. Correctly maintained and with routine cleaning both PVCu and aluminium woodgrain products should last and look good for many years to come.

If the foil finish on the PVCu window is damaged where it is torn or exposes the bare profile underneath, it is unlikely to be repairable. If the powder coated and sublimated finish on a wood effect aluminium window is damaged there are touch up pens available that can provide a quality repair. Of course with both options it will depend on the extent of the damage.

The advantage of the process used on aluminium windows is that a very durable coating is applied that is very durable.  The sublimated finish will protect against corrosion, UV rays, coastal salt, city centre environments, dirty rain and other airborne contaminants.

What aluminium products are available in a woodgrain finish?

Windows, entrance doors, bifolding doors, sliding doors and frames are all available in a wood effect aluminium window. They offer all the advantages of aluminium with an authentic looking wood finish.

Not every systems company the designs and extrudes door and window profiles offers a wood effect finish. Origin Doors, Smart Systems are two companies that provide a full range of products.  Other systems companies offer a limited range.  Lead times will vary from company to company, although generally these products are on a longer lead time than standard powder coated finishes. Aluminium woodgrain products are also available in dual colours with a wood effect inside or outside and a different colour on the opposite side.

alumina residential doors
The Alumina front door using a combination of both aluminium and PVCu

Contact us if you are a homeowner interested in these exceptional aluminium products or a window installer that would like more information about these woodgrain aluminium windows and doors.

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