Compare Aluminum vs. Wood Windows


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Aluminum vs. Vinyl Windows

In the battle between aluminum vs. wood windows, here are four key places to compare these very different window frame materials - window costs, style, strength and energy efficiency. When we talk of aluminum in this article, we are referring to thermally broken all aluminum windows. We make this distinction because wood clad windows sometimes use aluminum on the exterior as the cladding material (as well as fiberglass and vinyl).

Pricing & Costs

Aluminum window pricing will be less expensive than for a comparable wood clad window - typically by 10% to 25% for the window itself. Installation costs will pretty much be the same. The average aluminum window will run $650 installed, while the average wood clad window cost is somewhere around $750 fully installed. Wood windows are the most expensive option on the market and there is little in the future that looks to disrupt that trend.

Style & Aesthetics

Aluminum is sleeker and more industrial looking than wood. High quality aluminum frames are commonly used in commercial buildings because they are so strong and, over time, they have become associated with this commercial look and feel. Aluminum frames are almost always thinner, which most people like because it provides more glass area and is a primary reason for the sleek look. Wood, however, is generally considered the best looking residential window because of the warm, rich look of wood. It's inviting and natural, in stark contrast to the cold, modern feel of aluminum.

Strength & Durability

In this category there is no question who the winner is - aluminum is much stronger and will last longer than wood. It's one of the reasons that many people have to replace their 60 year old aluminum windows - they last a long time. Again, it's the reason that aluminum is used in commercial buildings that have to have a much higher strength rating. Wood clad windows that use vinyl or aluminum on the outside are strong as well, just not nearly as strong as aluminum.

Energy Efficiency

Both aluminum and wood are at the bottom of the list when it comes to energy efficiency. Aluminum, even thermally broken, is a conductive and is not very energy efficient. Wood will have better energy saving properties than aluminum. This is especially true with a fiberglass or vinyl cladding - both of these materials are at the top of the list in terms of energy efficiency.

Bottom Line

Aluminum is a good option in very hot weather locations because it can withstand heat and will not warp in the hot desert sun. It's a poor choice for cold climates because of it's poor insulating qualities. Wood windows can be stunning to look at and have decent performance numbers. The downside is certainly the price, as well as the periodic maintenance that they require to keep the wood in good shape. Click to compare more frame options.

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