Aluminium Windows: A Buyer's Guide


Aluminium windows have recently become the material of choice when it comes to finishing modern homes and, more increasingly, renovating period-style properties.

Glazing plays a huge part in defining new builds’ elevations and refreshing an existing homes’ kerb appeal. It’s therefore worth prioritising your time when it comes to designing the way you want them to look.

Sleek and versatile, aluminium windows come in all shapes, sizes and colours (yes, companies offer more than just Anthracite). However, it pays to be savvy in your shopping and look out for the best value for money. This means watching out for build quality in terms of finish and security, not just the cheapest price.

Are Aluminium Windows the Best Option?

One of the main attractions to aluminium windows is their slim sightlines that won’t break up or look out of place against a large expanse of glazing but there are many more practical advantages to choosing aluminium frames over other materials:

  • Lightweight and versatile but durable
  • Resilient to warping, corrosion and flexing
  • Thermally efficient
  • Although more costly than uPVC upfront, aluminium frames last longer and overall they are more affordable than timber
  • 100% recyclable
  • Almost completely maintenance free

Sightlines

‘Flush’ is the key word when choosing aluminium as the way the opening and fixed glass elements sit against each other side by side will make an impact of the slick look of the finished product.

Uniform sightlines result in stylish, seamless exterior façades and many architects and homeowners want a system in which all units are identical.

Finish

Many manufacturers offer frames prefinished in any RAL colour, which means greater flexibility when considering the kerb appeal. That said, black and anthracite reign supreme for more traditional and period homes as they can replicate slimmer traditional styles in Belgian doors and Crittall-style heritage windows.

Getting Quotes: How to Choose

The rule of thumb is to get quotes from at least three suppliers as there will no doubt be a huge range in amounts. Make sure you compare like-for-like (locks, handles, any required pressings etc) as additional extras might sway your decision. 

Remember, buying windows is more than just a pricing game: lead-in times can hugely impact your project. It’s important to be aware that a cheap buy with long manufacture and delivery times can delay a schedule and impact other aspects of a build.

Lead-in times are generally dictated by the manufacturers themselves and the industry standard is around four to eight weeks. However, if you’re in a pinch, Origin offer an optional 24 hour delivery promise, ‘Your Lead Time Not Ours’.

Don’t forget, as most systems require specialist fitting, you will need to coordinate with a local approved installation firm if the window company doesn’t offer a fitting service.

Quality Checking

Consider the Quality of the Finish

There can be a huge variety in the quality of the aluminium windows themselves. Good quality companies use prime billets in the manufacture of the windows, rather than cheaper scrap metal. To be sure, ask questions as to the grade of the aluminium used when shopping around. 

Premium aluminium should have a smooth and consistent finish so watch out for pitting from when the profile has been heated during powder coating. The die should be polished – reducing corrosion and avoiding contamination on the surface – after each extrusion run to create a high quality finish.

What to Look for in Build Quality

There are huge variations in the quality of how the window has been put together by suppliers. For example, when it comes to composite systems – which combine two materials, usually timber on the inside and aluminium externally – ensure that the external and internal frame elements are distinct (rather than, for instance, comprising a wooden frame clad on to an aluminium skin).

When comparing products, ask from where the key elements originated and where they were actually manufactured.

Security Requirements

Most windows and doors manufacturers aim to talk up their products’ security but now, thanks to changes to Part Q of the Building Regulations in 2015 and the Secured By Design standards, there are measurable ways of ensuring your choice ticks the boxes.

New builds require accessible windows (basement, ground floor and other easily accessible windows) as part of Part Q to be made to a design that has been shown through testing to meet the security requirements of British Standards Publication PAS 24:2012. 

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