Vinyl vs. Aluminum, Which Window Is Best?

large aluminum windows

When choosing windows for your home, numerous options are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. In this post, we’ll discuss two popular choices among homeowners; vinyl windows and aluminum windows. Both materials have their merits, but understanding their differences is essential in making an informed decision. We will compare vinyl and aluminum windows to help you determine which option is best suited for your needs.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum Cost

Cost is often a significant factor in any home improvement project, and vinyl windows are generally more affordable than their aluminum counterparts. Vinyl is a synthetic material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is readily available and cost-effective to produce. On the other hand, aluminum windows are more expensive due to the higher cost of raw materials and manufacturing processes.

If you’re keeping score, vinyl windows win the cost category, but as we will see shortly, that cost savings comes at a price.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum Durability

Durability is another critical aspect to consider when choosing windows. Vinyl windows are known for their exceptional durability, with the caveat that we are referring to premium vinyl windows. Vinyl, like most manmade materials, runs the gamut of quality from cheap, inferior products to ultra-premium. Think of vinyl as a recipe (in its liquid form, called “batter”), and high-quality vinyl contains additives that make them stronger and more durable. These additives are also costly, so cheap windows will skimp on them, leaving you with a window frame susceptible to fading, chalking, and cracking.

Quality vinyl windows are resistant to rot, moisture, and insects, making them suitable for areas with harsh weather conditions. They also do not fade, chip, or peel, ensuring they maintain their appearance for years to come.

Still, aluminum windows are metal, so they are also resistant to rot, and being non-ferrous, they won’t rust either. The finishes will vary, but we recommend either a powder coat or an anodized finish. They will perform the best and give you decades of problem-free use.

In the durability category, aluminum is the clear winner.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum Energy Efficiency

State and national standards require most windows built today to meet certain minimums in energy efficiency. Because of this, most windows will look good on paper, but it is important to dig deeper as to how they’ve achieved their ratings.

For our purpose, we’ll look at the characteristics of the frame material itself since glass options are so varied. Both windows have multi-chambered extrusions, making an effective thermal barrier and reducing heat transfer. When it comes down to it, vinyl is a better insulator than aluminum. However, technological advancements have led to the development of thermally broken aluminum windows, including non-metallic insulating material, to improve energy efficiency. Still, even thermally improved aluminum will get edged out by vinyl.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum Maintenance

A low-maintenance window is always a plus for a homeowner, and both windows are virtually maintenance-free. They do not require painting or staining and can be easily cleaned with soap and water. If we have to declare a winner here, it will be vinyl again since aluminum windows can be susceptible to some corrosion in areas with high humidity or salt exposure.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum Aesthetics

The visual appeal of windows can significantly impact the overall look of your home. Vinyl windows come in a wide range of colors and finishes, allowing customization to match your home’s exterior. They can also mimic the look of traditional wood windows without the associated maintenance requirements. Due to the material strength (more on that in the next section), vinyl window frame profiles tend to be wider than their aluminum counterparts, so if you’re after a sleek, modern look; they may not be the best option.

large aluminum windows

Aluminum, on the other hand, allows for thinner profiles and offers a sleek and modern appearance that can complement contemporary architectural styles and are also available in various colors and finishes.

Vinyl tends to be used in aesthetics ranging from traditional to transitional, while aluminum covers the spectrum from transitional to contemporary. Neither material has a distinct advantage in the appearance category, so this one will be declared a tie.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum Strength and Weight

While durable, vinyl is a soft material, and to gain the rigidity required for window frames, they employ a series of chambers in the extrusions (see image below). Exceptionally large windows also need to be strong enough to support the weight of the glass. When using vinyl, you may need wider frames or metal reinforcement to create large windows. Every manufacturer will have stated limitations on window sizes.

vinyl cross section

Aluminum is a strong and lightweight material, much stronger than vinyl. If large expanses of glass are your goal, then aluminum is an ideal choice. Aluminum windows can accommodate larger glass units without compromising structural integrity; very often, the only limitation is the glass unit.

This one isn’t close; aluminum is far stronger than vinyl, but I should mention that we are talking about extremes here. In practice, vinyl windows are capable of window sizes that are more than sufficient for the vast majority of homes. In fact, here at Houston Window Experts, we carry a manufacturer that can build a vinyl picture window that is fifty-five square feet of glass. By far, vinyl windows are the most common window type in the world.

vinyl windows

Why Vinyl Windows?

As stated, they account for most windows in the United States, both new construction and replacement. Vinyl windows are durable, energy-efficient, low maintenance, and highly customizable, but I feel like the reason for their overwhelming popularity is their affordability. Regarding replacement window types, vinyl will have the lowest cost. Within the vinyl window category, there is quite a range of price points, from builder-grade to ultra-premium, but overall, it will be the most affordable.

Why Aluminum Windows?

On the other hand, aluminum windows offer strength, a modern aesthetic, and the option for larger window openings but at a greater cost. With most window projects that we undertake, it typically comes down to one factor, aesthetics. Customers tend to select the window that they find the most attractive and works within their budget.

Get Professional Help!

There is so much to know about windows that, no matter where you are, I recommend you consult with window professionals like The Window Experts to assess your home’s requirements and help you make an informed decision. Consider your climate, budget, desired aesthetics, and goals. By carefully weighing these factors, you can select the windows to enhance your home’s functionality, appearance, and value.

We are the Houston Window Experts! Contact us today for a Free Consultation on how we can help with your window needs. You may also call us directly by dialing 832-900-7024.

Our Services include: Replacement Windows Houston, TX metro area. Houston Window Experts is a privately owned and operated company in Houston TX. For more information about us, please write to info [at] or call our Houston office at (832)900-7024. All material is copyright of Houston Window Experts. Houston, TX.