Home renovations are a great way to increase the value and curb appeal of your Muskoka cottage, but they can also be a huge headache and for many homeowners, the biggest challenge is choosing the right materials.
When it comes to windows, two of the most popular options on the market are aluminum and vinyl. More durable, less expensive, and easier to maintain than wood, these modern materials have a lot to offer but there are a few key differences that’ll help you decide between the two.
Aluminum vs Vinyl – how do they compare?
There’s a few things to bear in mind when shopping around for window frames.
Appearance is usually the first consideration, you want something that will beautifully frame your cottage country views while blending with the overall style and personality of your home. Cost is another key factor, especially when budgeting for a big project that goes beyond your windows.
When you get your new windows, how much maintenance are you prepared to do to keep them in top shape? Are you a year-round homeowner who’s always there to do the little touch-up jobs? Are you confident in your DIY skills? How much wear and tear will these windows have to withstand?
Also think about durability. If you’re lakeside, you’ll need sturdy windows to keep out the moisture. Perhaps your property is on higher ground and regularly buffeted by high winds. You want windows that can withstand the elements and won’t need replacing a few years down the line.
Many cottage owners in the Muskoka area favor the wood look – traditional, rustic, and in keeping with the region’s rich natural beauty. Wood tends to be high-maintenance and high-cost however, making vinyl a better option. Vinyl frames are usually thicker than aluminum and can be given a textured, faux-wood effect that’s just as good as the real deal. Leading manufacturer Euro Vinyl specializes in continental-style vinyl frames that help create a timeless, classic look.
Aluminum doesn’t mimic wood as well, but it’s a good choice for anyone interested in a more modern look for their home. With thin frames and a smooth enamel finish, aluminum windows give your home an elegant upgrade. Manufacturers Andersen and BigFoot both offer industrial aluminum frames for innovative contemporary design.
Aluminum frames are finished with enamel, vinyl frames are typically finished with dyes. This means that vinyl edges ahead when it comes to upkeep.
Aluminum is more likely to fade, chip, and corrode than vinyl which keeps its color for longer. It’s also worth bearing in mind that aluminum frames usually come with steel or zinc fixtures, which can corrode over time. While you can mostly leave vinyl windows alone, aluminum must be cleaned semi-regularly as they can build up condensation, you should also take care to lubricate any metal hinges and openers to keep them operating smoothly.
Aluminum frames are stronger than vinyl, making them a great option if you’ve big windows that dominate your space. Strong and structurally robust, you can rely on aluminum to withstand snow, winds, rain and whatever else the weather throws at it.
Vinyl windows are the star performer when it comes to energy efficiency, securing your home so the heat won’t leak out and drive up your utility bills. Aluminum conducts heat and cold so is slightly less green, although this sturdy material is still more energy-efficient than wood or hybrid options.
Manufacturers such as Dashwood and Ostaco offer high-performance vinyl options in a variety of styles, many of which carry the Energy Star label that indicates they meet the highest energy efficiency standards.
When budgeting for new windows, savvy homeowners know to factor in not just the purchase and installation costs, but also any future expenses that might arise.
Vinyl is typically cheaper than aluminum and, given its low-maintenance, can also save you money over the long-term as you won’t have to worry about repairs as much. Having said that, aluminum is the stronger material so while your vinyl frames can put up with more wear and tear, aluminum can handle bigger shocks better.
Still can’t choose? Ask the experts!
Muskoka Window and Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s premier window and door installer. We work with a range of top manufacturers across North America to offer windows in a variety of styles and materials. So whether you favor aluminum, vinyl, or a wood composite, we can get you the materials you want in the design you love. Contact us today to arrange a consultation and get started on your window project.