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! ;)
I will reserve my comments as i am a Fitshow Man with unbiased views i will just say horses for courses :)
1.If you wanted a wood grain window buy a timber window, 2.WER with the advancement of dgu the type of outer frames is becoming less important, and the slimness of some Ali windows is a advantage when calculating a WER 3. Security ! One is plastic one is metal, need I say more. 4. Cost, why would any Ali system company want to compete on cost with a PVC market that has a shrinking market share, why else would PVC system companies be launching Ali systems! 5. Environment, you realy wanna go there! you need to see the wood from… Read more »
Leon, i`ll answer your points , even tho i have a few more points myself.
1.Most people don`t want wood because of maintance cost/time.
2.Of course frames have a importance, that`s why more chambered frames have been designed.The slim sight lines of Ali window wouldn`t count. If the bullshit, made up solargain factor that the BRFC use on WER wasn`t around.
3.Ali external beading,need i say more?
4.Ali cost more , no problem there..
5.Pvc 35 year life exp, recycle at least 10 x
I do think Ali Bi-Folds are better than pvc !
You know I’m a fan DGB but you’re way off the mark on this post. I shall respond accordingly with a post on my website. But i love these sorts of debates and well done for bringing it to peoples attention.
I look forward to reading your response! And I’m glad your a fan, and I’m happy to say I’m a fan of yours too! Thanks for your comment!
What a ridiculous debate. As a 40 year aluminium man I can categorically state that timber, uPVC and aluminium all have their place in this world. It would be a very boring world to live in if every building was identical with identical fenestration.
We have fitted aluminium windows into high end houses and terraced houses as I am sure uPVC men have. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not the salesman.
Peter, I don’t think it is a ridiculous debate. Each type of material has it uses. I think this post provides a platform for people to champion the material they use, there’s nothing ridiculous about that, and I’m certainly not saying that all windows should be one type!
Thanks for your comment!
OK. Could I make a first point that it would be better to have a debate that included timber in it so we would be discussing PVC, Ali & timber. We manufacture timber and PVC and have done so since 1977. We used to make ali but this was before my time so I cannot speak with much authority on the product and therefore will give my observations of where we have won, and lost, business to ali. Some simple observations would be that a WELL DESIGNED timber window does not have any overlap into the PVC or ali marketplace… Read more »
Hi peter, I agree with everything you said, but in essence you think a composite window is the best!
Sorry, Forgot composites, even tho we sell them. My memories going.
Hi Leon, I can see what you mean! My experience of composite or ali-clad systems is that they have good market penetration in the high rise city centre flat/office developments. They also seem to be tilt and turn in design in the main. We have a select few customers who market the product in the retail sector and this is a more UK based product (open out not open in) and I understand that it is a premium price. Again not my strongest of suits but a very valid option on our marketplace, Just wish we imported less of this… Read more »
Peter – that is probably one of the best responses to a post I’ve read, and all comments I agree on fully! Thanks for your comment!
An excellent response from Peter Dyer. Spot on!
As with everything it is a matter of personal choice when it comes down to pure aesthetics. We have customers one day who want contempory slim sightlines, and then the next day you get someone asking for full features including ovolo beads and frames, it is entirely down to the final end user’s choice. I dont think there is much more you can say about looks to be honest. When the matter of quality comes into it, then it becomes a different matter. How many uPVC companies (Everest excluding) offer a 25 year guarantee on the finish of their product,… Read more »
i think peters post on timber
windows was a little short and needs a few more lines !!
Well I don’t know what all this Aluminium, Timber and Composites talk is all about…. You’ve got what you’ve got… and unless it’s that nasty plasticy stuff that murders babies while they sleep, and causes stress and anxiety to this country’s elite, all you need in my experience is to turn your heating up to full blast (get the butler chappy to throw more petrol soaked wood on the fire if you have too) and close the heavy curtains over any holes in the walls that you may have! Mr Person, at English Heritage Names may have been changed to… Read more »
Exactly, horses for courses
All have their purpose but
Upvc for windows
Composite for resi doors
Ali for commercial
See all have their place
Any one know why my phones quite today?
And don’t forget the heavy curtains….. We must all do our bit against global warming!
In fact… lead curtains stop most heat loss and are probably the heaviest curtains of all…!
Ali is the best .it has an inherent strength.plastics cheap and cheerfull .I’ve never seen plastic curtain walling afterall .
Mr warren and mr dyer both seem to sum up the situation ideally, there is a place for all these differsnt materials, them both seem to talk with authority and experience, and they both agreed Ali is best………!
Fanatastic post. Love topics like this. At the end of the day its about making all of us aware of what is out there in the marketplace. Here is my post which I hope is balanced. http://www.aluminiumtradesupply.co.uk/5099/what-is-better-aluminium-or-pvcu/
Wooden (timber, koka logi) windows are more good, they are more ecological, they look better, and feel better.
Hi , I am from India, am planning to start a manufacturing unit for UPVC windows and doors here. want to know if it would be feasible and i think i could start trading and selling the products for any of you people who would like to have a base here in India.
A bit of PVC bashing going on here so just even it out a bit. Ali and condensation! Keep a squeegee and a rag handy. I would like to see the research on the whole PVC has a 35 year life span. The PVC windows in my house are 22 years old and not had a single problem with them. As long as the they are cleaned and lubricated I cant see why they couldn’t potentially last forever, As long as gearboxes and hinges don’t become obsolete. Mine look as good as new. Just to point out my first 10… Read more »
I think all of these things apply to a hell of a lot of other trades as well. The locksmith industry has been saturated for a good few years now and a lot of it is down to very similar points you mention in this post. Undercutting is a big problem for us but also the rise of the locksmith training courses.