Impact windows and doors have two frame options, aluminum and vinyl, which leave many wondering “What is the difference?” Both materials are approved and rated for impact windows and doors, and each one fulfills different prerequisites. Ultimately the decision comes down the needs and budget of the homeowner.
Aluminum versus Vinyl: Strength
Aluminum is three times stronger than vinyl, making it a winner in the strength category. Aluminum’s stiff frames also make it easier to install and once installed it is less likely to be dislodged or loosened.
Aluminum versus Vinyl: Maintenance
Vinyl frames tend to be relatively low maintenance and do not need to be painted as the material is the same color throughout. Aluminum frames require more maintenance and their moving parts need to be regularly lubricated with approved lubricants. Additionally, aluminum frames need to be cleaned on a regular basis, especially if the home is located salt water.
Aluminum versus Vinyl: Noise Reduction
Because aluminum is thick it prevents more external sounds from reaching inside the home, whereas less dense vinyl frames do not filter noise as efficiently.
Aluminum versus Vinyl: Energy Efficiency
Though some aluminum frames offer a “thermal” options, this option is not always available. When it comes to energy efficiency vinyl always wins over non-thermal aluminum. Unlike aluminum, vinyl is a poor conductor of heat and cold, making it more energy efficient and less likely to transfer temperatures.
Aluminum versus Vinyl: Durability and Resilience
Vinyl frames are less susceptible to environmental elements such as airborne salinity and air pollution. Because vinyl does not react with salt and does not rust, vinyl frames are more suitable for homes near saltwater. Over time, especially if the frame have not been properly cared for, aluminum may experience rusting or pitting. Houses located in environments with extreme temperature fluctuations or prolonged heat tend to fare better with aluminum frames. Aluminum frames are more resistant to cracking and disfigurement, whereas vinyl frames warp and bend over time.