Glazing is a fundamental part of the aesthetic of your property, it defines how it looks and feels. However, when it comes to choosing the frame, it can be hard to know which frame material is best for your windows and doors. It’s a task that requires careful research before you invest in your new fenestration.
Your glazing, especially your windows, can be seen from both indoors and outside, therefore it’s important to consider which option will compliment all aspects of your home. Timber windows create a traditional appearance while uPVC and aluminium have a more contemporary feel. So, which is best? Let’s compare wooden vs uPVC windows as well as aluminium window frames.
Which is best? Timber, aluminium, uPVC windows and doors?
When we start to research which is best, we’re mainly looking at maintenance, thermal efficiency, life expectancy and cost. The style also plays a significant part when it comes to which framing option is best for your home. All in all, which is best will come down to which features are most important for your project.
First of all, let’s look at the basics.
Timber windows and doors
The original windows for Victorian and Edwardian houses have always been timber-framed – hence why wooden windows have been around for centuries. Joiners achieved beautifully proportioned window frames for these homes. Thanks to their excellent craftsmanship, local authorities made timber windows mandatory for listed buildings and alike. However, many of us want to achieve that traditional aesthetic even outside of the conservation areas.
What is timber glazing best for?
- A more sophisticated, traditional aesthetic
- Windows that will last decades
- Homeowners who don’t mind the occasional maintenance
- Natural insulation
- Eco-friendly product
uPVC grew to popularity solely due to their price. Compared to other framing materials(e.g wooden vs uPVC windows), uPVC has been an affordable option for many years. The finish of the frames has improved over the years however they are still relatively thick in comparison. These frames are often sold with the sales pitch that they will last 20-30 years with very minimal maintenance. However, they tend to discolour (especially south-facing windows) and gradually degrade.
What are uPVC frames best for?
- Very affordable glazing option
- Homeowners who don’t want long-lasting windows and doors
- A standard finish that is simple and generic
- Reasonably low maintenance
- Thicker frames
Modern aluminium glazing systems
Aluminium is the most popular metal window frame, although there are other options including steel. Traditional steel-framed glazing is costly, therefore aluminium is used as a more affordable alternative. Aluminium is seen as a step-up from uPVC as you can achieve good thermal performance with slimmer frames, but of course, they come at a higher price point.
What are aluminium glazing systems best for?
- Achieving a more sophisticated aesthetic compared to uPVC
- Those who don’t mind a higher price point
- Maintenance-free glazing that only needs occasional washing
How do timber, aluminium, uPVC and metal windows and doors compare to each other?
Aluminium vs wooden vs uPVC windows, all have their individual pros and cons. However, these pros and cons greatly depend on what style and performance you’re looking for and your budget. Below we’ve created a brief overview of each frame option.
|Appearance||Wooden window frames are naturally charming and beautifully complement heritage properties||uPVC frames are chunky and there isn’t much room for customising the design as they come in standard styles||Thin frames are achievable with aluminium and the design is customisable|
|Insulation||Wood is a naturally insulating material that helps to keep the heat in and reduces energy bills||uPVC frames have low conductivity and are easy to fabricate with double or triple glazing. However, over time the seals degrade and subsequently so does the energy efficiency||Thermal efficiency for aluminium is similar to uPVC windows whereby double and triple glazing is possible with various glass options|
|Environmental impact||Wood is a natural material and therefore it has little impact on the environment||uPVC is one of the most environmentally hazardous materials and uses harsh chemicals||Aluminium is 100% recyclable, so in that case, it’s an eco-friendly material, however, creating the raw product isn’t kind to the environment|
|Lifespan||Timber-framed windows can last for as long as 60 years, meaning they will last a lifetime||uPVC window frames only last for 20-25 years, therefore you will need to replace them more frequently than timber or aluminium||The life expectancy for aluminium frames is approximately 45 years|
|Cost||The bespoke and handcrafted nature of timber-framed windows means that they come at a higher price point, therefore they cost more than uPVC and aluminium||uPVC is a very affordable option if you are on a tight budget. You won’t find a cheaper option compared to uPVC||Aluminium is a middle ground price, they are more expensive that uPVC however they are slightly less than timber|
Timber vs uPVC for residential windows and doors
Homeowners often think that double glazed windows have to be manufactured from uPVC or aluminium. However, timber frames are also available as double or triple framed systems. Therefore, you can have elegant timber-framed windows with impressive energy efficiency. Furthermore, the main difference between wooden vs uPVC for residential windows and doors is that timber is a natural insulator, whereas uPVC is not.
In addition, timber windows can add value to your property, especially if you are living within a conservation area or areas where the traditional aesthetic of the property is favoured. It is also believed that uPVC can discourage buyers from making an offer because timber looks more sympathetic to the style of the property.
What is the best timber for windows?
There are so many timber options for wooden window frames including softwood and hardwood options. But how do you know which timber is best for your home?
Hardwood has an intricate cellular structure that makes the timber very dense (hence why it’s called “hard”). Over centuries it has been used for boats, musical instruments and traditional furniture. At Belgravia Hardwood we manufacture our timber windows and doors using engineering hardwood:
Softwoods are fast-growing compared to hardwoods like oak, therefore they are slightly more sustainable. These woods are now used more commonly in construction because they are more readily available. Belgravia Hardwood creates softwood window and door frames using:
- Scandinavian softwood
- Special treatment softwood (Accoya)
Softwood that has been specially treated tends to have increased strength, durability and also weatherproofing. We use Accoya which provides unprecedented durability as well as thermal efficiency.
The type of timber you choose depends on your budget, the style of frame you want and personal preference. We can also provide you with guidance and advice to help you choose the best wood for window frames for your project.
Conclusion – Which window and door frame material is best?
The best frame material is a competition of aluminium vs wooden vs uPVC windows. They each have their pros and cons, however, they each have more pros depending on the type of property the gazing is for. Other things that need to be considered is the budget. Overall, uPVC is the most affordable option in the short term, but they only last 20-25 years. So, in the long run, you are better off investing in a frame that will last a lifestyle (which will actually make the cost cheaper if you look at the cost of replacing uPVC windows every 20 years). You will have to replace uPVC windows almost 3 times within the life expectancy of wooden windows.
Aluminium is a good option for highly contemporary properties as the frames are thin and they achieve good thermal performance. However, this style of glazing isn’t complementary to traditional properties. In this instance, wooden windows offer a more charming aesthetic that is more in keeping with the style of the home.
Timber windows are doors are a beautiful addition to properties, and better yet they are custom-made to your exact design, size and finish. Contact us to talk about your timber options and how we can create a custom package for your timber glazing requirements.