This is probably one of the greatest debates in our industry, and probably will be until the day we all retire! Is PVCu better than Aluminium?
Me, @NigelGrantUpvc, @AlumTradeSupply and @LegacyWindows have been having an argument (debate) on the pros and cons of PVCu windows vs Aluminium. Both materials have their pro’s and cons and both have their uses in particular areas. But overall, which is best?
For me, it’s PVCu. I’ve sold PVCu all my life and firmly believe it is the best material. I’d just like to clarify at this point that I’m not saying aluminium is rubbish. Just that PVCu is better. The wood grain effects have come on leaps and bounds over recent years, providing arguably some of the best quality imitation wood effects.
Then of course there is energy efficiency. They were the first to get the energy A ratings and continue to improve year on year at a better rate than ali windows. Arguably, there are triple glazed aluminium systems out there now which boast excellent U-values and energy ratings, but PVCu is there too.
As with everying, there is the eco benefits to think about. Yes PVC polymers are oil based, but the great advantage with PVC is that is can be recycled as many times as is necessary. As far as I’m aware aluminium windows are harder to recycle into new aluminium windows. And when it comes to wood, well there’s still a lot of wood coming into this country not 100% legal…but that’s another conversation! A good quality PVCu window or door will last a good 30 years, is that as long or longer than ali ones, or do aluminium ones last longer? I’d like to think they are similar life spans.
On a colours basis, both systems can be sprayed any colour, so I don’t think there is a clear winner in the department.
Looks is a big issue for me. I know that aluminium systems are coming a long way when it comes to different types of profiles, but there are still so many with clinical, square and chunky lines. For residential houses in this country I just don’t think they are the ideal choice. The softer lines of Chamfered of Sculptured edged frames gives PVCu frames a more homely look which does suit the mass majority of residential properties in this country.
Security has to be one of the biggest factors too. PVCu doors and windows now come with a plethora of locking mechanisms and security cylinders. Get the right combo from the right manufacturer and PVCu doors and windows are some of the hardest to break in to. I’ll be honest, I’m not that up to speed on the technical securities of aluminium systems so I’m going to rely on my super duper ali readers to put me right on this.
Then there is the cost. Aluminium is notoriously more expensive than PVCu, and for me, unjustifiably. Both systems come in high quality formats, both achieve high energy ratings, all colour options and wood grain options are available – so why the extra cost? PVCu is cheaper, but provides all the things an ali window can. This I think is why over four fifths of the residential market is dominated by PVCu.
There was a comment on Twitter earlier where it was said the reason for this dominance was because of a lack of education. I don’t think so. It was only 30 odd years ago where a lot of windows and doors in this country were aluminium, so it’s not as if this material was a myth and isn’t just being talked about. People have lived with aluminium for years, I believe people are just picking their preferred option – PVCu. If people truly wanted aluminium, I believe they would be asking for it in greater numbers. Up to press, I haven’t found that much of a demand for it in my area. Maybe this is just a North/South thing.
I know this is an issue which splits the industry. But please keep the comments clean but with banter!