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Aluminum Vs. Vinyl: 7 Key Things To Look For When Choosing a Window Frame

Aluminum Vs. Vinyl: 7 Key Things To Look For When Choosing a Window Frame

June 16, 2022
PGT EnergyVue - Casement Window - Casement Windows

When it comes to replacing your home’s windows, it’s a good idea to first do some comparison shopping. Today’s options are vast, but two of the best materials to look at in terms of a window’s frame are aluminum and vinyl.

Both types of window frames have their merits. What you ultimately decide to purchase will depend on your needs and preferences. Replacing your impact windows is a big decision, so you want to make sure you understand what to look for when choosing a frame. Here’s what you need to know.

AnchorLooks and Curb Appeal

If you want the benefits of using modern materials that better withstand the elements, you can’t go wrong with vinyl. Vinyl frames have a burnished look and are available in a variety of colors, all while providing the durability of hurricane impact windows.

While aluminum doesn’t offer the same look as vinyl, what it does offer is a marvelous appearance that adds beautiful curb appeal. With a modern, sleek look, aluminum offers homes an updated appearance that pairs nicely with contemporary architectural styles. They also easily assimilate into most home types, also adding nice curb appeal.

The bottom line is, when it comes to curb appeal, vinyl and aluminum frames add significant value. When deciding, it pretty much boils down to your personal preferences about the appearance of your impact windows.


Compared to frames built from other materials, both vinyl and aluminum are long-lasting. Vinyl window frames feature high durability and easily withstand dents and chips. If any minor damage is done, it’s not usually very visible, if at all. Aluminum window frames are built to last. If properly cared for, they easily have a lifespan of up to 50 years—it’s a very strong frame. If you’re looking for long-lasting windows that protect your family from severe weather elements, the durable strength of aluminum is also highly suitable for hurricane impact windows.

Maintenance Level

In terms of maintenance, vinyl frames are practically maintenance-free. Aside from occasional cleaning, there are no major maintenance tasks needed to keep them in good shape. Weathering is not even an issue, even in coastal areas. This is because they’re designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. Moisture resistance is another appealing feature of vinyl.

Aluminum is also low-maintenance. Aside from routine cleaning and drying, once your aluminum windows are installed, it’s a low-level effort to maintain them. In most instances, you won’t even have to ever paint or stain aluminum. Of course, unless you choose to do so.

AnchorEnergy Efficiency

Vinyl is rated extremely high for energy efficiency and comes with strong thermal performance ratings. It’s also highly effective at reducing heat transfer. If you live in Florida or another warm region, you’ll appreciate having these hurricane impact windows—your A/C won’t be slipping into the outdoors. However, while highly energy-efficient, they are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which isn’t biodegradable. Some buyers prefer a product that is environmentally friendly at the end of its lifespan.

In this respect, aluminum has the edge on vinyl because it is much more environmentally friendly, which helps offset lower efficiency. While very efficient, aluminum window frames are a little less so than vinyl because they conduct heat. However, this isn’t a problem for homeowners. Aluminum frames can be outfitted with double weather-stripping and interlocking meeting rails, significantly boosting energy efficiency. Heat and air conditioning stay exactly where they should be—inside while simultaneously keeping the weather elements out.


Vinyl windows aren’t burglar-proof, but they can be easily outfitted to provide better protection for your home and its occupants. Where vinyl does excel is upholding gusty winds and other severe weather conditions. Aluminum frames are extremely strong. Whether it’s harsh weather or bad guys looking to break inside your home, it’s a lot harder to get through aluminum impact windows. They are also a good choice for homes with larger windows to help provide protection.

Regardless of the type of frame you choose, the glass used in impact windows goes a long way toward boosting the security factor.

  • Intruders. Burglars have a difficult time penetrating these windows.
  • Shattering. Shards of glass won’t go flying, the breakage remains contained.
  • Modifications. Both types of windows can be outfitted with locking devices. This allows homeowners to have ventilation while remaining secure from falls or unauthorized entries.
  • UV Rays. Impact windows protect people, furnishings, and floors from harmful UV rays.

Overall, both window frame types excel in safeguarding your family from harm.

AnchorYour Location

Where you live should also be considered when deciding between aluminum and vinyl frames. As noted in our energy efficiency section, your local climate will be a factor. Here, vinyl definitely excels in warmer climates. Wear and tear is another consideration where aluminum might hold up better. When exploring windows, ask your vendors which type of frame is better for your location. Another location factor is noise. When it comes to reducing noise, aluminum beats out vinyl because it has more mass. If you live near a busy street or other loud areas, it’ll help to muffle out the noise.

AnchorNew Impact Windows Boosts the Value of Your Home

Upgrading to vinyl or aluminum windows is a worthwhile investment. In the Southeastern part of the U.S., you can gain an ROI of roughly 67% with vinyl, according to Remodeling Magazine. Aluminum wasn’t mentioned in their report, but since they have a long lifespan, are environmentally friendly, and are highly durable, owners find that they too yield homeowners a decent ROI.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with investing in either type. Both frame styles make for high-quality hurricane impact windows. Vinyl and aluminum are equally designed to last many years. Regardless of what you buy, you’ll gain the latest in window technology, along with all of the above benefits. New hurricane windows, with either type of frame, add value to your home. Most importantly, you can rest easy with either option, knowing your family is well-protected with the correct installation.