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Today, there are three main choices when it comes to selecting windows. But what’s the difference between aluminium, wood & PVCu windows? Years ago, wooden windows dominated the marketplace but were gradually replaced by PVCu and aluminium windows.

PVCu

Polyvinyl chloride unplasticised (PVCu) is a major thermoplastic material, which finds widespread use in building, transport, packaging, electrical/electronic and healthcare applications. PVCu has been in commercial production since 1933. It now accounts for about 20% of all plastic manufactured worldwide.

Windows made with PVCu are generally better thermal insulators than aluminium. PVCu is a lightweight material, which makes PVCu double or triple glazed windows quick and easy to install and PVCu tends to be cheaper than aluminium. A quality vinyl window will also save you money on energy bills because the insulation in the frame of the window itself is energy efficient. Look for multi-chambered outer frames to achieve cost effective energy efficiency.

Of course, the biggest advantage of PVCu over wood is that it does not rot, get infected with termites, or swell due to moisture. This provides PVCu with a lot of longevity. Moreover, the fusion-welded construction of PVCu window frames is much sturdier and a quick wipe is all that is required to maintain them.

Aluminium

Aluminium is the original material used in double glazing manufacturing and it used to be very popular in the late 1960's until the early 80s. Modern hybrid aluminium windows now have thermal inserts to prevent heat loss.

Vinyl windows have been the most popular for many years, but new strides and technology by aluminium window manufacturers have brought ‘new-age’ aluminium windows to the forefront of the industry. The transformation is based on several factors.

The introduction of polyamide technology has allowed manufacturers to improve windows with thermal insulation, added strength and has even presented the opportunity to allow different colours on the outside and inside of the window. Many homeowners are taking advantage of this unique design capability.

In general, aluminium windows are cheaper than timber windows. However, better quality, thermally insulated aluminium windows are closer in cost to timber windows. Aluminium windows are maintenance free, but do corrode over time.

The strength-to-weight ratio of aluminium allows the material to be shaped in many different configurations with amazing precision. Aluminium doors and windows are now perfectly crafted and the smooth joints make the windows look sharp and enhance the exterior appeal. The popularity of bi-fold doors on new projects and home extensions has seen a surge in demand for this contemporary look.

Wood

Wooden window frames could potentially last for many years to come. When maintained properly your wooden windows can efficiently resist wear and tear and last for a lifetime. The wooden frames will probably need to be sanded and painted every 5 years or so. They still provide that classic charm, especially with older properties, but are slowly losing ground to PVCu and aluminium. This is partly due to their higher initial cost and partly due to changing tastes towards crisp, clean, modern lines.

Look out for the British Fenestration Ratings Council (BFRC) Window Energy Label. This is similar to the one you may have seen on your fridge or washing machine. A-rated windows are the most efficient and are the best way of improving the energy efficiency of your home.