Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Comparison between uPVC Windows and Aluminum Frame Windows

In the USA and the UK uPVC or rigid vinyl windows are far more popular than aluminum windows. Whereas, in Japan and other Asian countries the reverse is true: most windows have aluminum frames. So what is the difference between these two types of frame?

Aluminum frames are cheap and easy to install. In Japan a house is normally built with a wooden frame and lightweight walls. Windows are fitted quickly. The house is not expected to last for much more than 60 years. After that time it is demolished and a new house is built on the same plot of land. Aluminum frames suit this style of construction because they are long lasting, light and cheap. Aluminum frames are also weather resistant. Aluminum doesn't rust; instead it just takes on a dull tone from oxidization.

Aluminum windows are superior to uPVC windows in terms of longevity - they last much longer than uPVC, which normally has a life expectancy of about 25 years. However, there are a number of ways in which uPVC or rigid vinyl windows are better.

The first is thermal resistance. Japanese houses are very cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. This is partly because aluminum windows do not provide a good thermal barrier: in the winter they don't keep the heat in the house, and in the summer they don't stop the heat from outside entering the house. Whereas, uPVC windows, especially with double glazing, are good insulators. They prevent heat or cold escaping from a room and stop the heat or cold from outside entering a room. This is called thermal resistance. uPVC's high thermal resistance helps save money on heating and cooling costs. Aluminum's poor thermal resistance makes heating and cooling a house more expensive.

Another important difference between aluminum frame windows and uPVC windows is strength and security. Aluminum is a lightweight and malleable metal. It is very easy to dent and bend aluminum frames. This means they are an easy option for burglars. In contrast, uPVC is stiff, hard and rigid. uPVC is a tough material that is difficult to break or bend. uPVC frames combined with double glazing present a much more formidable challenge to a would-be burglar than aluminum window frames.

The final difference between the two window types is disposal. It is easy to recycle aluminum. For years now many countries have been recycling aluminum cans and covering the costs by selling the recycled metal. On the other hand, it is very difficult to recycle uPVC. uPVC is  a plastic that contains PVC which is  made from petroleum. When burnt PVC gives off dioxins that are health hazards to people. Sadly a lot of uPVC and other PVC products end up in land fills at their end of their lives. These land fill sites frequently are the scenes of fires. Thus, if uPVC windows are not safely disposed of they are a danger to human health and a pollutant.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Comparison of uPVC Windows and Timber Frame Windows

Both uPVC windows and timber frame windows have their advantages and disadvantages. It is a difficult task for any home owner to decide which type of window frame is better to install.

For many years uPVC or rigid vinyl or vinyl siding was the industry norm for new homes in the UK, Ireland and the USA. uPVC windows with double or multiple glazing have many benefits that make them an obvious choice. For a start there is the question of maintenance. Timber frame windows need yearly maintenance to stop them falling apart. In wet weather the rain can get under chips in the paint work and rot the wood. In high humidity the wood can swell and in dry heat the wood can shrink and crack. In contrast, uPVC windows are completely unaffected by changes in the weather, and with minimal maintenance can last for over 25 years.

Furthermore, uPVC windows are very popular because they are energy saving. uPVC has a much higher thermal resistance than wood which means in the winter uPVC windows keep the heat in a room better and in the summer uPVC windows prevent heat entering a room. If you combine uPVC windows with the insulating properties of double or triple glazing you can make big savings on your heating and cooling bills.

Another benefit of uPVC windows is that they give much better security than timber frame windows. Timber frame windows are easy to pry open whereas uPVC windows offer no place to gain purchase for a pry bar. Also most new uPVC windows come with multi-point locking systems as standard.

It is for these reasons that houses with uPVC windows and double glazing are much easier to sell.

The main draw back of uPVC windows is that they are made from the plastic compound PVC. Not only is PVC expensive and difficult to recycle, but also the production of PVC releases dioxins into the atmosphere which are carcinogenic. In the event of a fire uPVC windows give off toxic fumes. And if old uPVC windows at the end of their life find their way into a landfill then there is a high risk of landfill fires releasing dangerous toxins into the atmosphere. For these reasons some local governments in Germany and the Netherlands have banned uPVC from new public buildings.

Other than the environmental problems with uPVC production and disposal the only other advantage of timber frame windows is that they are made of a natural material. Even though uPVC can be made to look like wood and any type of pattern can be photo printed onto the plastic, uPVC windows on closer inspection will never look the same as wood.