Aluminium Windows: Its Types, Advantages & Disadvantages
Monalisa Patel is a Structural Engineer who has earned her Master’s degree (ME) from the L.J College of Engineering and Technology Ahmadabad in 2018. She is an Engineer (Civil) at SDCPL – Gharpedia. Helping people to solve their queries about construction is her passion. Apart from being blogger, she also participates in structural design at SDCPL. She is reachable on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.
Aluminium windows are quite popular these days. They look good, durable, easy to maintain, and as creative as much you want. These windows are light in weight, perfectly weather resistant, and also increase the energy efficiency of your premise to a great extent. Presently, architects do prefer aluminium for its aesthetics insulation power, colour friendliness, and many other handy benefits. Let’s read here why aluminium windows are much ahead in the popularity quotient. But before that, let’s take a quick look at wooden doors and windows, which were traditionally most popular in use for making windows and doors.
Wooden Doors & Windows
In recent past, doors and windows were mostly made of wood. Ornate carpentry was often used, and architects spent an inordinate amount of time and effort detailing the cross-sectional profiles of window and door frames, window sashes, door panels, and the related trims.
Because of the insufficiency of automation and manufacturing technology, the carpentry and joinery related to window and door fabrication were carried out at the construction site. The performance requirements of window and doors were modest at the best and were directly related to the skill of the crafts-person building the window or door. Good workmanship yielded higher-performing windows or doors. For windows, letting the daylight in and keeping the rainwater out, and peeping through them to see the world outside were the basic requirements. Because large sheets of glass were not available at that time, window glazing was made of small panes of glass held by small horizontal and vertical wooden members.
Like most other building components, windows and doors have evolved over the years. Windows are now made not only from wood but also from aluminium, steel, vinyl and fibre glass. Additionally, two materials are often combined in the same window to take advantage of their different properties. However, aluminium is by far the most commonly used window material today. So, let us understand aluminium windows in detail.
Aluminium is the material that is also used presently in glass curtain walls and store-fronts. Apart from strength and durability, it is not affected by moisture and-shrinkage or swelling due to random sun exposure or change in moisture content. The anodized or painted finish on aluminium is virtually permanent. Aluminium windows require almost no maintenance.
The malleability (capable of being shaped) and flexibility of aluminium are perhaps the most important reason for its extensive use as a window material. Because of its malleability, aluminium can be extruded into complex cross sections, which are specially designed to facilitate the structuring of the window. For example, continuous round, hollow intrusions, which are referred to as screw splines are commonly provided in aluminium cross sections to join horizontal and vertical frame members.
The flexibility of aluminium allows the use of snap-on carving, whereby two separate aluminium sections can be joined together without any fasteners. For example, in aluminium windows and curtain walls, glazing stops are simply snapped on (no need for adding screws or any other fastening material). Additionally, two aluminium windows can be effortlessly snap-connected by using mating mullion profiles to provide a larger window with a common mullion without the use of fasteners.
Where can it be Installed?
Aluminium windows are installed in both commercial and residential building. They can reduce the intrusion of noise better than other types of window, and therefore they are widely used in schools, hospitals, etc. Properly joined Aluminium assembly hardly leaves any air gaps for sound to travel which normally happens with wooden windows.
Various Styles/Types of Aluminium Windows
Aluminium can be easily fabricated into variety of shapes and can be sprayed with any colour you like. Therefore, you can get exactly the look you have planned for. Aluminium window frames come in different styles: casement, sliding frames, single and double hung window, bifold windows, tilt and turn windows are common designs.
Aluminium Sliding Windows
As the name suggests, these aluminium windows are operated by sliding them from one side to another. They are easy to operate, and one of the most common types of light metal windows. If you appropriately use glazing combination, you can modify their insulation capabilities and energy efficiency, and thus you can reduce your energy bills significantly. They need very few components to assemble and hence maintenance of these windows are easier.
Aluminium Casement Windows
Casement windows are mostly suitable for the houses, which are located at an angle to which the air blows. You do not need to worry about the facility air entering your home with these types of windows as they offer added convenience for ventilation. They are hinged at the sides and crank outward. Thus, you can open them at an angle to funnel in the gentle air into your home. Since the casement locks are mounted into the frame and hook are shaped, they provide better security along with comfort.
Aluminium Bi-fold Windows
Bi-fold Windows are less demanding in terms of maintenance as they are easy to clean. They allow considerable access to the outside space of your home. With this type of aluminium windows, you will have a long-term, smooth operation facility. Aluminium bi-fold windows open up to the stack on a side and give an undisturbed space between the frames.
Aluminium Tilt Turn Windows
These windows enable horizontal as well as vertical movement, thus allowing you to let lots of air into the room. Since they open inwards, these windows are ideal for homes, which have limited space outside or are constricted with small balconies. These windows are easy to clean. Aluminium Tilt Turn Windows can be swung wide open like a door or tiled to open at an angle from the top.
Advantages of Aluminium Windows
- Aluminium window frames are available in anodized and powder coated finishes, which are extremely durable and need no maintenance.
- They are perfectly suited to both traditional and contemporary designed homes as they are more attractive and can add an impressive appearance.
- Aluminium windows are light-in-weight but still strong in resilience. It has extremely long life of around 30 to 50 years or even more if maintained periodically.
- Some aluminium windows can be easily recycled. This makes it one of the best materials to use when it comes to creating an environment-friendly window. Thus, aluminium windows help to reduce your negative impact on the environment and improve overall sustainability. Even as green material aluminium with recycled content is used to earn LEED points.
- Aluminium is not easily corroded. Over years, it may have slight negative impact of corrosion on it.
- Aluminium windows do not attract termites, pests or other insects. So you don’t have the obligation of paste controlling.
- Aluminium windows are easy to maintain. It requires anodizing or powder coating after a long period of use.
- They do not shrink or swell and hence are easy to operate during all season.
- Because of higher strength of frame sections, their sizes are small, and hence an aluminium window looks sleek and attractive. It provides more area for transmission of light.
- You do not need to use hardware like tower-bolts, hinges etc., thereby you may save some amount in terms of cost.
- With use of double, triple glazing, with air/ gas gaps and also with use of toughened glass, the window can be made sound proof, energy efficient and also it may offer the protection of high security. Of course these variants are costly; however such features would be almost impossible or highly expensive to implement in case of wooden windows.
- It is available globally at an almost uniform rate.
- They are mostly made in factory and thus installation time is less, and hence it speeds up construction, and needs less labours/ skilled workers’ involvement.
Disadvantages of Aluminium Windows
- According to ‘Madan Mehta’ (Author of Building Construction Principles, Materials, System), the disadvantage of aluminium is its low R-value (R-value is a measurement of heat resistance). However, with the introduction of thermally improved (also called thermally broken) aluminium frames, the situation has substantially improved.
- The powder coating on aluminium window frame may discolour quickly; it does not have high UV resistance.
- Aluminium is a good conductor of heat. Therefore, it cannot provide you optimum insulation protection from heat when there is a cold climate outside as heat will be lost through the aluminium window frame.
- Like wooden frames, you cannot fix MS grills to aluminium frames for security. For fixing grills, you have to provide stone frames all around four sides, to which the grills can be fixed. Of course, such stone frames enhance the beauty and help to keep jambs and sills neat and clean.
- In case of sliding windows, depending upon the number of sliding shutters, only 25% to 50% of window will open for air to flow i.e. 100% windows will never open in case of sliding windows, as in case of wooden window or casement in windows.
- Cleaning the inside of small size section is tedious, particularly when the dust is more. You can do it with vacuum cleaner.
- Although you may provide mosquito shutters in the sliding windows, but only 25% to 50% will open for easy flow of air.
- If either joints between Aluminium frames and stones frame or plastered walls are not properly sealed with waterproof materials, there is probability that water may enter from there during monsoon. So, sealing with silicon sealants by skilled workers with appropriate tools like sealant guns is very important.
Cost of Aluminium Windows
The cost of the aluminium window depends on the size of the window. It is costlier as compared to uPVC windows, but substantially cheaper than teak wood windows. The price of aluminium window depends on many factors like size of window, type of finish and the region of the country (location). However, it is possible to say that the cost benefit of aluminium frames is much higher than PVC or even wooden frames. Because of the large-scale use of aluminium windows, the cost of buildings has fallen dramatically. The price would have stayed on the higher side we could continue with the teak wood window.
To sum up, aluminium windows are ideal for homeowners who want a low maintenance window option with high-performance quality at an affordable cost. They make surrounding brighter and healthier. Corrosion resistance, flexibility, and natural strength are the reasons aluminium is the preferred metal for making windows with this metal. Modern aluminium windows are a great choice for enhancing kerb appeal or finishing of a contemporary house. It gives your home an excellent smart look. However, it is important to design right to enjoy it plenty of benefits.