What are the types of aluminium windows?

What are the types of aluminium windows and aluminium windows designs available? Your choices includes fixed, shaped and opening windows of several types. This article focuses on the different types of windows, how they open and work, how they look and what to consider with these designs.

Types of aluminium windows and aluminium windows designs explained

There are two areas to understand with aluminium windows designs. First is the design of the window frames. Most quality aluminium windows, come with several frame options. So whether you’re looking for a flat and modern frame, something with a shape or sculpture to it or even something close to a traditional timber or steel window, aluminium windows designs do cater for most requirements. It’s also these frame designs that often determine the type of aluminium windows you can have.

Also covering aluminium windows designs is the overall look of the window. What are the sizes, how many fixed or opening elements are required? Are you looking to retain the look of original windows or change the appearance of the property with something more modern? The answer to this is aluminium windows designs are virtually unlimited. There are only a few factors affecting types of aluminium windows.

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Aluminium Windows
  • The maximum sizes possible based on technical, structural, security or safety reasons
  • Sizes based on minimum or maximum tolerances
  • Limitations due to handling or transportation

An excellent example is how large an opening element of a hinged window can be. Most aluminium windows only go up to around 1.2m or 1.5m with side opening windows even smaller at 600mm or 900mm. So you won’t find extra large opening windows beyond these sizes.

Another example is floor-to-ceiling windows or large picture windows. These are usually available up to the maximum size of the glass. Compared with timber or PVCu windows, aluminium does give you both smaller as well as larger windows, bigger glass sizes and slimmer frames.

Which type of aluminium is best for windows?

types of aluminium windows showing an aluminium bar on cutting machine

This is a simple to answer and as our guide on what creates a good aluminium window explains, virtually all current aluminium windows use nearly identical aluminium quality and type. Aluminium profiles have, for years, met long-established British, European and other standards for thickness, quality, suitablity for use as a window material and type.

The aluminium grade in modern wndows is typically Alloy 6063 offering all the machining, corrosion-resistance, heat treatments for colouring and other characteristics suitable for the windows and doors we buy for our homes, factories and commercial buildings – otherwise known as ‘Architectural Applications’

The type of aluminium that’s best for windows is thermally insulated profiles typically using a polyamde thermal break. This is a latest generation insulator, creating a thermal bridge between the outside and inside profiles. Working with the glass in your windows, these thermally insulated profiles create an overall energy efficient window.

Another benefit of thermally insulated profiles using polyamde is they let you create windows with a different colour frame inside and out easily.

Top tip: Marketing materials mentioning premium grade aluminium or suggesting a superior aluminium extrusion aren’t actually giving you significantly more premium. All you need to do is ask what technical specifications the alumnium meets and then compare with other brands. You’ll find it’s nearly always the same. Or you can get in touch with us and we’ll clarify it for you.

Opening types of aluminium windows

top hung aluminium windows designs in a kitchen
Top hung window designed by Smart Systems

Most people expect their windows to open and close. With aluminium, there are several aluminium windows designs based on the opening method. Here are all the various opening methods for aluminium windows. However, do bear in mind not every aluminium window brand comes with these opening options. You can contact us for information if there’s a particular window style you’re after.

Top hung opening out windows

The top hung opening window offers convenience with the hinges on the left and right sides and the window handle at the bottom.

Opening outwards this window suits more modern types of aluminium windows as well as windows designs having larger glass panels and fewer dividing mullions and transoms. The benefit of top-hung opening out windows is they come at larger sizes than side hung windows.

There are two potential drawbacks to this window. One is it’s not conveniently placed over a kitchen sink, as reaching to close the window is hard. Another is these windows at ground floor level or opening onto pathways may need restricting to avoid injury.

Side hung opening aluminium windows designs

side hung windows explaining the types of aluminium windows
Alitherm aluminium window in a side hung design

Popular with traditional or modern homes is the side hung design. Here the window hinges from the top and bottom with the window handle on the side.

The advantage of these windows is flexibility and safety. Easy clean hinges slide the open window along its frame letting you clean the outside pane of glass from inside the room. Fire-escape hinges allow suitably-sized windows to open out to 90 degrees.

The drawback to this window is it’s restricted by size. Most side hung types of aluminium windows only go to around 600mm wide with a handful of products slightly wide. They’re also frequently restricted on height.

Tilt and turn opening windows

tilt and turn aluminium windows designs in a bedroom

One of the most flexible and convenient windows are tilt and turn windows. Operated by a multi-functional handle, they have two opening options. One is where the window tilts inwards from the bottom for ventilation. Then, closing the window and rotating the handle in the opposite direction allows the entire opening element to swing into the room.

The first benefit is cleaning the outside pane of glass from the outside. the other is allowing larger opening vents than side hung or top hung windows.

Tilt and turn windows won’t be for everyone. The more complex gearing means window frames are thicker than side hung or top hung versions. The advantage of tilt and turn is coming at significantly larger sizes. In fact it’s possible to get tilt and turn windows are virtually the size of a door. As a result, they’re ideal for windows leading to a flat roof or a Juliet balcony.

Sliding types of aluminium windows

article explaining the types of aluminium windows

There are two sliding types of aluminium windows and these are vertical or horizontal sliding.

The vertical sliding design replicates the look of traditional sash windows with the obvious solution these provide in homes with existing sash windows.

The horizontal design is essentially a cut-down patio sliding door with most products. It’s not as popular as a design although it does allow the largest possible window openings of any

Flush casement windows

flush casement type of aluminium window in a cottage

The flush casement window is a more recent innovation offering both contemporary or traditional aluminium windows designs. Therefore, they’re ideal for cottages, set into stonework, timber subframes or in a contemporary home.

Smart Systems offer one of the slimmest, as does the aïrMOD system. Thicker versions come from Origin, Stellar, Decalu and other brands.

Bottom hung opening inwards windows

bottom hung window in a hallway
Rare in the UK, but available from AluK, bottom hung open in windows are suitable for landings and restricted spaces

Not all window systems are designed to accommodate a bottom hung design.  Essentially these are windows that are hinged at the bottom with a catch at the top and simply tilt inwards – an inside out top-hung casement.  Their uses are quite limited in a residential property as they do not give a huge amount of ventilation.  However, if you have a very small WC, or a temporary room like a cellar or storeroom, they may be worth considering.

You may have difficulty in tracking these down, but systems such as AluK and Schuco, do provide them. Another way of looking at a bottom hung opening in window is like a tilt and turn but without the turn facility.

Other types of opening windows

Whilst not as popular with dwellings, there are other opening types of aluminium windows and designs. These include reversible windows, parallel opening windows or inward opening windows.

Pivoting windows pivot right back on themselves so the outside pane of glass ends up on the inside.  They are available as either horizontal or vertically pivoting windows and are generally used in high rise buildings where they can facilitate the cleaning of the window from the inside.  They may not suit every home, but they can be made much larger than typical top hung or side hung casement windows.

Top swing reversible windows are also mainly used in high rise buildings but they could be worth considering for the home.  Essentially these operate in exactly the same way as top hung casement windows but they use a very sophisticated friction stay mechanism.

The window is opened to its normal opening position and then stops as a normal opened window.  Upon releasing a catch on the friction stays, the window continues to open out still further and reverses back on itself bringing the outside pane to the inside.

You can also find combinations of window designs such as opening outwards windows combined with a tilt and turn. Of course it’s also possible to integrate all these types of aluminium windows within a door screen.

Floor-to-ceiling and panoramic windows

panoramic types of aluminium windows in a mansion house

Popular with new extensions, modern homes or high-end architecture and glazing are large panoramic, floor-to-ceiling windows and even curtain walling.

These aluminium windows designs rely on suitable framing and significant expertise by the installer. Only maximum glass sizes determine the sizes possible. Crucially, there are more technical or structural considerations over and above standard window designs such as wind deflection.

These dramatic oversized windows create a statement-piece window but do require a more experienced installer and window manufacturer.

Internal aluminium windows designs and types

internal aluminium window in an apartment

Whilst this article concentrates on exterior aluminium windows, there are the same options and choices for windows used internally.

One consideration is exterior grade windows come with thermal insulation and double glazed units. These are two elements not needed inside the home in most cases. Therefore, it’s with considering steel look or internal window products with brands such as Aluco or a dedicated interior window with single safety glass options.

Single glass creates a better overall look than double glazed windows where you don’t need specific sound or insulation. Internal single glazed windows are also slimmer in most cases.

How to choose the right window opening type

The choice of buying the right window comes down to your property type, whether you’re replacing existing windows or need new windows for a building project such as a new extension.

  • Research as many aluminium windows brands as possible, to understand the options available.
  • Consider safety as well as security such as a means of escape
  • Whilst the slimmest windows are desirable, they don’t all offer the required functionality
  • Fewer options exist for internal aluminium windows designs

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16:42 30 Oct 23
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We are looking to replace some old UPVC patios doors with aluminium ones. The ATS website is a great source of advice in an area where clear information is sorely lacking. Having used the website, I then followed this up with a number of specific questions relating to our search, and Nick came back very quickly with clear, detailed and very useful advice.I have been very impressed with both the website and with Nick's advice. My only regret is that I didn't come across ATS before replacing various windows in 2021 - I'm sure it would have saved me a lot of grief and money! Thanks again Nick.
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Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply has been extremely helpful with navigating the jungle that is aluminium glazing for our upcoming extension project. His advice was prompt, detailed and always impartial. Very grateful for your input, thanks Nick!
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