How does aluminium compare to uPVC and timber?
Posted by Josh Tuck on 10/3/2022 to News
Aluminium is THE core component of bifold doors. Excluding glass, that is. It’s an incredible material, and if you want to learn a little more about why it’s used in almost all of our products, check out our previous blog on ‘Why aluminium is the perfect partner to bi-fold doors’. Today, we’re going to focus on how it compares to uPVC and timber doors and windows – two universal materials that we’ve all likely encountered in one property or another.
Of course, timber frames existed long before uPVC, and you could be forgiven for thinking that wood is a thing of the past when it comes to window frames at least. But many homeowners are opting for custom timber windows during their renovations, which will be sympathetic to the age of the property, or with new builds, as a stylistic choice. uPVC on the other hand is generally seen as the ‘standard’ offering when it comes to replacing ageing wooden windows or fitting windows to new builds.
Pros and cons of timber frames
With wood being a natural insulator, it does well in retaining warmth. That said, older wooden windows are often just single glazed, which negates its natural properties anyway.
Timber is a tough, resilient material, and when combined with a suitable treatment or finish, such as specialist paint, it can last as long as sixty years. But we must remember that timber is a finite resource. Yes, wood does ‘grow on trees’, but trees must be planted, grown, felled, transported and cut, which is a hugely intensive process and supply chain beginning to end.
The main benefit for new wooden windows is aesthetics. Homeowners and architects will simply specify them as a ‘period correct’ specification to suit a property and we must admit, they do look great in the right setting. (That’s ignoring the price tag.)
Pros and cons of uPVC frames
uPVC windows are super affordable, and that’s in part why they’re the most popular form of window throughout the UK and much of Europe.
uPVC is easy to keep clean and it’s a durable material. But this comes at a cost, to the earth at least. We must remember that as an artificial material, it can’t easily be recycled or disposed of (remember, aluminium is infinitely recyclable). There are many parts to a uPVC frame, including the steel core, which means it needs to be disassembled before embarking on its lengthy recycling process.
Another major disadvantage of uPVC frames is simply their design. They’re often fairly bulky and cumbersome in their shape and size, which doesn’t always make them an ideal choice for your smart new extension. They’re also prone to sagging over time, which can compromise the seals not only around the openings, but the glass too.
How aluminium compares to timber and uPVC
Aluminium sits in a rather unique position in that it adopts to pros of both timber and uPVC. Aluminium insulates well, and it’s a tough and durable material.
Aluminium frames can be smart, sleek and low-profile, making them an idea choice for new builds, extensions and renovations.
Aluminium is infinitely recyclable, and with a low melting point too. This means it’s not as energy intensive to recycle as other metals.
And because aluminium is lighter than timber, there’s a lower cost when it comes to transportation in bulk (or to site) and that saving is often passed on to the customer. It also means the frames are less awkward to move about on-site.
Aluminium solves the finer details and the bigger picture
Obviously each renovation project is different, and house builders all have their own designs when it comes to new builds. So there are many variables at stake when it comes to the finer details around what the architect or the homeowner requires.
Thankfully, aluminium satisfies most if not all of those requirements, whilst also performing well when it comes to wider issues such as transportation costs, environmental impact and sustainability.
That’s why aluminium bifold doors and windows are so much more beneficial in the short and long term when compared to boring uPVC or costly timber.
So if you’re building a new extension or renovating your existing property, you should seriously consider aluminium bifold doors and windows if you want a finished product that has looks and longevity.