Buying steel-look windows in aluminium for homeowners or the trade is now better than ever. Thanks to product innovation, several brands and system on offer and flexible design solutions, there’s never been such choice. In this article, we explain more about the various products, designs and systems, for aluminium steel-look windows.
Everything you need to know about buying steel-look windows
It’s important to firstly know the difference between steel-look and steel-replacement windows. Steel-replacement is frequently a term used for windows intended to replace existing steel windows. The term steel-look refers more to the style of the windows, although these too are suitable as a replacement for existing metal windows.
There are a substantial number of steel window suppliers in the UK . Some of these make and supply the trade directly. Others provide windows via a network of approved dealers or retailers. There are also manufacturers making windows for their own installations.
As with any quality product, expertise is key. The popularity of these products understandably brings new players to the market. Some of these are credible options when buying steel look windows. Others, remain the standard window with applied bars giving the multiple panel effect. Whether these standard windows are steel-look is subjective. If the end user is happy with the windows they’ve purchased, arguably they are. Alternatively the more research-savvy buyer will probably want a more detail-orientated product where the design of the system takes inspiration from original steel windows.
Despite, the popularity of this style of glazing, some of the UK’s best and longest established fabricators have been making these products long before they were popular.
Design and performance considerations when buying steel-look windows
Generally speaking, the steel-styled glazing available today has as its core current technology. Specifically, aluminium profiles, weather sealing, locking systems, the powder coated finish and glass all meet industry standards for quality, conformity and type.
You’ll find these windows double or triple glazed, available in a huge choice of colours and virtually unlimited styles and shapes.
Energy efficiency is also very good with nearly all products, also meeting at least the minimum requirements of the Building Regulations for either U-Values or Window Energy Ratings.
For window security, each system should state what security tests the windows come with. Where a window comes with period furniture, for instance monkey-tail handles or peg stays, check whether the security certification (PAS24 or Secured by Design) covers the window fitted with this type of hardware.
The marketing messages around security can confuse. A reputable installer should give you clear information. And just because the system comes tested to the latest standards, doesn’t meet every configuration and window design will too.
Steel-look glazing bars on windows
It’s the glazing bars that play a big role in the overall look of steel-look windows. On the genuine steel product the glazing bars tend to be around 28mm such as the Innervision sliding door. For the steel windows, these come with 19mm, 26mm or 30mm bars.
Therefore, aluminium windows can also offer these bar dimensions or come close to them depending on the supplier and the product.
Some of the best brands for steel look windows
The following brands come with a dedicated steel-look or steel-replacement system. Moreover, these are arguably some of the most credible on the market today in aluminium.
We are focusing on the brands rather than the system as some of the below brands do use the same system. Others take an existing system and offer a customised or enhanced version of it.
aïr MOD Windows
Made by Everglade Windows, air MOD come as some of the most diverse in type and style.
With the air MOD product, you’ll find heritage, steel-look or art-deco windows with the option of some excellent period hardware and accessories. This brand of windows also comes as contemporary, flush and tilt and turn versions. They’re slim attractive and well worth checking out.
air MOD is available to the trade and homeowners via an authorised and approved dealer network
Steel-look and Royale by Duration Windows
Suppliers to the trade, Duration Windows make Aluk and Smart Systems products as well as a full range of aluminium doors and windows.
The Royale Window is one of the slimmest on the market and comes with some excellent accessories and great attention to detail.
Four different versions are available. The Royale Stepped with impressive 33mm sightlines, a Putty Line appearance, Heritage Stepped and Heritage Putty Line.
Steel-look windows by Aluco aluminium are available to homeowners via a nationwide dealer network.
The range includes a comprehensive selection of casement and fixed windows as well as combination screens with doors. Using the Alitherm system, Aluco products suit general steel window replacements, stone or timber surrounds as well as new window openings.
There’s also a range of doors, bifolding doors, internal screens and partitions and interior doors in the steel-look.
Aluk Optio 58BW steel-replacement
The Optio 58BW product by Aluk is widely used in residential and commercial projects offering a 58mm or 70mm frame depth, excellent security, energy efficiency and acoustics.
While not as popular as the Alitherm System, you nevertheless get a good range of options including flush casements, contemporary and heritage styles.
Another good feature you’ll find buying Aluk’s steel-look windows is the option for bottom hung opening inwards windows.
Also known as the Slimline 38, Reynaers windows deserve more recognition as a steel-look brand.
They come in Classic, Cubic and Ferro models all with highly attractive detailing, and the renowned Reynears design, engineering and quality.
They’re a great alternative to better known brands of steel-inspired windows in aluminium and another option that’s worth checking out.
Whilst not a systems company or large fabricator, Jennyfields based in Surrey specialises in steel-replacement windows and specially expert in curved sunshine bays.
Where you’ll find many installers shying away from these curved on plan bay windows, Jennyfields have been doing these long before the current trend for these windows. The company also replaces existing W20 windows with a warmer, thermally insulated version.
Smart Systems Alitherm
Arguably the best in aluminium and the most widely used by fabricators and installers.
Whether it’s a standard system as intended, or customised with new/improved extrusions or rebranded, Alitherm is hugely popular when buying steel-look windows.
Smart systems provide standard and heavy-duty versions, doors, an interior system as well as a suite helping with replacing old W20 windows.
We even know of situations where the Alitherm 600 window has been used for internal New York-style screens. Even the Visofold 6000 bifold comes with a steel-styled sash profile. Image shows Alitherm windows fitted by Aspire Bifolds of Surrey.
Brands and Systems not designed as steel-look windows
The following popular brands presently don’t have a dedicated steel look system, although they can be marketed as such. By dedicated we mean a window product designed from the ground up with specific steel-inspired profiles, hardware and characteristics for steel window replacements.
- Origin OW-70 and OW-80
- Stellar aluminium windows
- Sheerline windows
- SAPA Crown Windows
This is by no means a criticism of the above brands and we know of many situations where they’ve been sold with applied bars giving a steel look appearance. If you’ve seen these windows and like them, go ahead and buy them.
Window handles and accessories
Furthermore, there’s an extensive choice of window accessories when buying these steel-inspired windows. With any good providers, expect to get a choice of different shapes, colours and textures.
Also important is the glazing bar styling and size. Again, a good system provides a range of options.
Replacing existing steel windows with aluminium
While a steel window remains the genuine and best type of window in this style, aluminium provides a cheaper and alternative solution. Be aware you will never get a 100% match for new or existing steel windows. Whilst we are an aluminium website and as good as these brands in aluminium may be, steel-remains the best looking and with exemplary quality and build.
Aluminium, therefore, provides a suitable alternative for the replacement of existing steel windows. However, and as you can see from these two images of a curved window, the inner radius curve is too tight to recreate in aluminium.
Crucially, take a look at the outer frame sightlines. There’s little to distinguish the slimline original window and the aluminium replacement using the Royale Product by Duration Windows. Installation carried out by Open Living of Letchworth.
Buying steel-look windows with shapes and curves.
Importantly, with some existing steel windows and doors features curved heads and other shapes, how does aluminium stack up?
First of all, whether you can recreate complex shapes depends on the tightness of the radius. Steel windows generally lend themselves significantly better when creating special shapes. This is especially the case for Gothic styles and curved on plan windows.
The main reasons why it’s difficult in aluminium for complex designs, curves or shapes is how the joints come together, the aluminium beads holding the glass as well as hardware considerations. As a result, opening window elements usually come square or rectangular only.
Here’s a gallery of window styles where generally you’ll struggle to get these in aluminium, but frequently possible on special order in steel.
More information about buying steel-look windows
The popularity of steel-look windows is set to get even better and aluminium systems and providers, continue to innovate and provide some standout products.
Use our contact form to get in touch and find out more. ATS can help Trade installers find suitable suppliers and manufacturers. While homeowners can also get in touch to find out more about the brands and systems in this article as well as where to buy.