When it comes to window frame materials, choosing between timber and aluminium can be tough.
They both have their own visual appeal and they share plenty of practical benefits. The differences between uPVC windows and aluminium windows are pretty easy to spot, as uPVC is a lower cost and lower quality material. However, with aluminium windows and timber windows, you’ll always be expecting a higher quality making it difficult to decide between them. If you’re struggling to pick between wooden window frames or aluminium frames, then read on to see how these two materials stack up against each other.
Timber Vs Aluminium Windows: Strength
When it comes to window frame strength, aluminium wins out. It is a strong, robust metal that is able to hold large panes of glass without suffering any stress. Even heavier double-glazed and triple-glazed panes can sit comfortably in an aluminium frame.
If you’re looking to build a feature window that takes over a whole wall in your home, then aluminium windows are your best option, probably your only option. Furthermore, this strength also allows for narrow profile frames, giving you a bigger glass-to-frame ratio and means you can really maximise the light flow into your property.
For standard-sized windows, timber frames are easily strong enough tough. They don’t have to be ruled out for oversized windows either – though you may need to add mullions to strengthen them. This can benefit the look of the window, adding a decorative grid pattern if that suits the style of your home.
Timber Vs Aluminium Windows: Cost
Overall, wood tends to be the most expensive window frame material. This is partly due to the manufacturing process, along with the amount of material you need per window. Also, the upkeep of timber windows can also add to their overall cost.
However, this does not mean that timber windows are always more expensive. Many things will affect the cost of windows, including their size, their design and the way they work. So even if your budget is tight, there are more affordable wooden windows available that could suit you.
Timber Vs Aluminium Windows: Durability And Maintenance
Aluminium is the most low-maintenance and durable window frame material available. Aluminium frames are usually expected to have a lifespan of up to 40 years and they won’t need much upkeep over that time. Their powder coating is also easy to clean and you will not notice much colour fade over time, even in direct sunlight.
However, if something does happen to that powder coating you will not usually be able to refinish an aluminium frame. Adding a new coat of paint is difficult and will create a noticeably poorer finish.
A set of high-quality and well-maintained wooden windows will last decades. Inspect them regularly and refinish them when needed and they will continue to look incredible for their entire lifespan too.
Another benefit of wooden frames is that they can be repaired, refinished and updated. If you do need to make any minor repairs, it is just a case of reaching for the wood filler. Add a new coat of paint or stain every couple of years, and they will easily withstand the elements.
Timber windows also give you more style flexibility than aluminium as they will happily take a new coat of paint if you want to change up their colour just for a visual difference.
Timber Vs Aluminium Windows: Environmental Impact
Aluminium is also the most sustainable window frame material available. It is a 100% recyclable material which means that even after your windows are removed they can be used to make cans or even new windows.
Being a recyclable material means that less energy is used to create the windows too. Keep an eye out for manufacturers who use renewable energy to get the most sustainable windows possible.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get environmentally friendly wooden windows though. Just make sure you find frames that are sustainably sourced, with FSC certification, such as our own Jeld Wen window range.
Of course, other factors can affect the environmental impact of your windows, including their thermal performance.
Timber Vs Aluminium Windows: Thermal Efficiency
Timber and aluminium windows can both offer excellent thermal efficiency if they are constructed correctly.
As a metal, aluminium is a very good conductor of heat. This makes it a bad choice for insulating your home without modification, so you should look out for aluminium frames with thermal breaks. This is a gap in the frame filled with air or plastic to insulate it, similar to double-glazing. It improves the energy efficiency of aluminium windows, so they can meet and exceed current UK building standards.
In contrast, wood is naturally an excellent insulator. It will not let cold air get into your home or your warm air get out. You don’t need to worry about getting a specific window design for maximum efficiency, just match it with double-glazed glass panes for impressive thermal performance.
Timber Vs Aluminium Windows: Style
For many people, the deciding factor between aluminium window frames and timber ones will be the way they look.
Unpainted wood windows can provide your home with a beautiful natural look. Whether you go for a light oak stain or a much richer one, wood grain gives a timeless and classic look that adds personality to properties of any age. In particular, wood will shine in older homes. If you’ve got a rustic village home or a rural country cottage then wooden windows will sit perfectly among red brick, painted render and stone exteriors.
Timber framed windows also make an authentic choice for most period properties. If you’re looking to stay true to the heritage of your home, picking wooden frames is usually the best move though you will also need to find a sympathetic window style too.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if you have a mid-century property then aluminium windows could be a more authentic choice. Their sleek surface and slim profiles will be a closer match to the steel frames that were more commonly used in post-war homes.
In fact, the more modern your home is the more it could benefit from the look of aluminium frames. They have a very simple, understated appearance that makes them perfectly suited to minimalist properties and contemporary design schemes.
So, Are Aluminium Or Timber Windows Best?
There is no point in trying to definitively state which window material is best as ultimately, It will always come down to your requirements, budgets and aesthetic choices.
If you want an understated frame that will blend into a modern property and help large glass panes speak for themselves, then aluminium is a fantastic choice. But for older rustic homes that celebrate natural resources then timber will likely speak more to you.