- What you need to know about some of the best aluminium windows.
- The ‘systems company’ behind the best aluminium windows.
- Security of aluminium windows.
We will also cover design and options, security, thermal efficiency and colours. Finally, there are some tips to help you when choosing windows with bifolding or sliding doors, often required at the same time.
What you need to know about some of the best aluminium windows.
The current range of windows available provides ideal aluminium windows for the home. There is a big choice of aluminium windows whether you are looking to replace your existing windows or need new windows for an extension or building project.
Visit any good local window company, and you will typically see a range of quality windows and doors in aluminium. Some choose to sell only one system; others offer more than one brand of windows. Choose any of the current crops of windows and the following features come as standard.
- Thermally insulated frames with at least a C Window Energy Rating.
- 28mm glass units, usually internally beaded.
- A choice of aesthetic to the window frame and opening vent.
- Windows designed to integrate with doors.
- Security and weather tested windows.
How double glazing firms choose the windows you will see.
First of all, it is helpful to explain about the door and window installer you may deal with and how they work with the many aluminium systems.
The vast majority of window installers do not make any windows. They buy them in from specialist trade manufacturers. Some of these trade manufacturers work incredibly closely with their customers (your installer), with marketing materials, costing software, training, assisted installations and helping them to sell. Good examples of these trade manufacturers are Origin, Everglade Windows, Dutemann, The Customade Group, Lister Trade Frames, Alufold Direct and many others.
Other manufacturers adopt a more detached approach; in business to make windows for the trade correctly. These have little interest in helping their installer customers sell more of their products.
You may also come across window manufacturers that also sell directly to homeowners. These businesses work either in the residential sector or even have a commercial side to their business. It is easy to assume that buying direct will always give you lower priced windows. Some factors affect how much aluminium windows cost. Therefore, ensure you get two or three prices and ensure your quotes are on a like-for-like basis.
The ‘systems company’ behind the best aluminium windows.
Often consumers are unaware of exactly who is behind their new aluminium windows. For many consumers, the buck stops with their window company when those of us in the trade know the reality is somewhat different.
With few exceptions, the systems companies that design and extrude residential aluminium windows are substantial corporations. Often they will be part of European or global companies or part of a broader group of businesses with many years history and experience in aluminium, construction and windows.
In designing their aluminium windows, they will put them through extensive testing, produce detailed fabrication and installation manuals and they will update these regularly as well.
Except for companies such as Origin and a few others, most aluminium windows come from a network of approved manufacturers. These will then directly install the windows (if they are in the installation business) or they will supply ready-made windows to the local window companies.
Are commercial windows suitable for your home?
There are some excellent brands of windows such as Comar Architectural Aluminium Systems with their 5P.i range of windows. Senior Aluminium Systems and Kawneer are other examples. In new build flats and houses, it is commercial systems fitted. As a result, these rarely appear in typical window showrooms. Most systems companies do have windows perfectly suitable for dwellings. Where they may fall short is in the profile options. You look at these types of windows often on Channel 4’s Grand Designs where the demands on glazing are substantial.
Commercial windows are no different from residential windows regarding specification, security and standards.
The aluminium window brands.
The following window brands (including specific variants) you can consider as some of the best aluminium windows regarding design, and brand perception. This is reflected in the pricing.
|Mid-Range Windows||High-End Windows|
|Smart Systems Alitherm||Schuco Windows|
|Aluk Optio 58BW casement||Reynaers Windows|
|SAPA Crown Casement Window||Smart Systems Heritage Range|
|Comar 7P.i windows||AluK Optio 58BW ST steel replacement|
|Warmcore Windows||Lumi Frameless Windows|
|Everest Aluminium Windows||Origin Windows|
|Anglian Aluminium Windows||SAPA Avantis 95 “Passivhaus”|
|Senior SPW Range||Comar 10 Passivhaus Windows|
|Kaye Building Systems KBS||Keller Minimal Windows|
|Kestrel Aluminium Systems||Windows from IQ Glass|
|Senior PURe and AliView||Windows from Panoramah|
For very high-end glazing, take a look at the range of windows from companies such as IQ Glass. Their window range includes windows that disappear into the floor, guillotine window and many other very special products indeed. Products like these tend to be used by architects and those customers with a big budget. However, what it does demonstrate above all is what exceptional windows are possible with aluminium compared to PVCu.
We don’t mention Hybrid Windows such as Velfac, Comar Alu-Timber or Senior Systems Hybrid products. The reason is this article is about full aluminium windows rather than a combination of materials.
Finally, as we mention in our article about who makes the slimmest bifolding doors, companies such as Everest, Anglian, Express Bifolds, Kloeber and others use existing systems, rebranded as their own or customised somewhat to appear unique.
What is the worst aluminium window?
We are frequently contacted by consumers asking our advice on what aluminium windows to avoid. Our answer to this is always the same.
There is no bad aluminium window on the market. It is who makes and installs a product that compromises an otherwise good brand and leaves a negative experience with the customer. This is often what prompts a homeowner to leave comments on our website telling other readers to avoid a particular brand of window.
Aluminium systems companies invest substantial sums in testing, certifying and bringing their windows to market. Therefore window ‘problems’ are rarely down to design. Some window installers consider some systems harder to fit than others – another reason you may hear negative feedback about a product. (How hard windows are to fit is not really of much concern to a homeowner).
Homeowners with leaking windows contact us and criticising the brand. Leaks and faults frequently come down to the manufacturer not providing the drainage and the installer not noticing. Installers may use the wrong window gaskets, incorrectly glaze the windows or make other mistakes. As a result, a problem appears that is not the fault of the brand.
The reality is all modern aluminium windows are good windows, but they differ in some areas and are different in others. Let us examine these in more detail.
Confused about buying aluminium windows? We’ve made it simple.
If the choice of aluminium windows is confusing, our advice is to look at aesthetics, energy efficiency and accessories like handles. This is because, where it matters, the best aluminium windows are all similar in many technical aspects. The following table shows you the key areas where aluminium window specifications are broadly the same across all systems. This is thanks to British and European Standards.
For the critical components of windows like the profiles and the paint finish some systems companies produce in-house. Other systems companies outsource to independent extruders as well as specialist powder coaters. Specialist manufacturers produce rubbers and seals. Your glass comes from glass manufacturers. Therefore, when it comes to the quality of everything that makes a window, you can regard quality as generally the same.
|Feature||Relevant Industry Standard|
|Quality of aluminium profiles and extrusions||Aluminium Alloy 6063.T6 to BS EN 755 Part 9: 2008 or BS EN 12020|
|Quality of polyester powder coated finish||BS EN 12206-1:2004.|
|Quality of glass||BS 6262 and Approved Document N|
|Quality of glass||BS 6262 and Approved Document N|
|Security||PAS 24, Document Q, Secured by Design, BS7950, BS EN 12209|
|Weather resistance||BS 6375: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3:2009|
|Water resistance||BS 6375: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3:2009|
|Air permeability||BS 6375: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3:2009|
|Quality of rubber gaskets||EPDM Rubber manufactured in accordance with BS3734.|
|Quality of woolpile seals||BS 7386:1997|
|Polyamide Thermal Break||PA66 GF25|
|Anodised colours||Silver or bronze anodised BS3987 (AA25).|
Where the best aluminium windows differ from brand to brand.
Where today’s aluminium windows differ is in the choices you get. Some windows provide a big choice of frames, opening vents, mullion transoms and beads. Other brands offer less choice. So to choose the right window for you, take a look at the aesthetics. Hopefully, the right installer will give you options in how your windows look.
Where aluminium windows also differ is how they are engineered, designed, assembled and installed. Some are easy to make, others more complex. Some have very simple corner joints; others have more sophisticated ones. The drainage, fabrication and installation vary from brand to brand as well. Brand perception is also important with aluminium windows. In the same way, as cars can be perceived as cheap, middle of the road, executive or luxury, the same can be said for aluminium windows. Above all, many window manufacturers and systems companies are quality assured for their manufacturing and administration processes. Some have Kitemark licences and other certification.
Some of this is attributed to what is an excellent aluminium window, and some assigned to smart marketing. Finally, some brands come with a big choice of window handles and accessories, others with fewer options.
Security of aluminium windows.
As we mention, many of the best aluminium windows share standardised specifications. Some windows come with enhanced security, others with more basic. Therefore you can take it as granted that all major systems are independently security tested. Ask to see the certification and check the credentials of the tested window.
The locks, handles and hardware found in aluminium windows.
The multi-point locks, window handles and components used to make your aluminium windows come from global or British companies that specialise in designing and producing hardware for windows and doors. The same applies to the seals, gaskets and rubbers.
Some aluminium systems use standard locks and handles. Other systems companies may work with companies such as Yale, Roto, ASSA, CarlF Groupco, Hoppe, DeBar and many others to create something more unique to their window.
Therefore the quality of window locks and handles may vary but will usually be of good quality and fit for purpose. Some, of course, will offer better security than others or different locking features. Because windows share these high quality locking systems and handles, security comes as standard.
Information about buying windows with doors.
Sometimes it is hard finding the best aluminium windows and doors suppliers offering one brand of windows and doors. As a result, it can be confusing deciding what brand of windows to have with what doors. Is it recommended you have the same brand throughout?
This decision is often out of your hands, and the reason is straightforward. Bifolding doors, sliding doors, back doors or front doors are very desirable. Therefore the companies you speak to endeavour to pick the very best door systems they can. The same isn’t always the case with windows; not because windows are inferior, they are not as complicated as large span doors. Windows mainly just work, doors are more complicated. So it is the case that an installer may love the doors from one brand yet not offer any of their windows.
There are just a few advantages to having windows and doors all from one brand:
- A coherent appearance in your home.
- A single point of guarantee.
- The source of your windows is more transparent.
Different brands are not a disadvantage either. Choose the windows and doors you like, at the price that is right and from the company you have confidence in dealing with. It does not matter if your windows and doors are not the same systems. Our advice is to try to focus the budget on the better brand of sliding or bifolding door choosing the best-engineered system. The windows, whatever the brand will be reliable, correctly made and installed.
Our top tips for choosing the best aluminium windows for your home.
- It does not matter if your doors and windows are different brands. Consider allocating more of your budget to premium doors and less to the windows.
- Ensure the information provided is factual. There is no ‘bad’ window on the market. Many share specifications and product standards.
- It makes sense to have combination windows mixed with doors from the same system. But not essential.
- Consider either opening options. Examples include sliding, reversible, opening in, pivoting, tilting and automatic windows.
- Beware the many re-brands of existing systems giving you the impression of being unique or exclusive.
- If you are buying different brands, here’s how to check your colours will match.
- Remember there is an aluminium window solution for most projects. Contact us for advice or where to buy.
Finally, as an impartial and independent website, we can help homeowners, and window installers navigate through the choice of the best aluminium windows in the marketplace and provide some advice. Contact us if you would like our help.
This article was last updated July 2018