Which is Better for Replacement Windows - uPVC or Aluminum?

Double-hung replacement windowIf the time has come for you to replace your old, worn-out windows, you have a lot of decisions to make, one of them being whether to go with frames made from aluminum or uPVC.

What is uPVC?

You’ve probably heard of PVC - aka polyvinyl chloride. PVC is the strong lightweight plastic used in construction. Adding plasticizers to PVC soften the material and make it more flexible. UPVC is simply PVC without these plasticizers, or Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride. It’s a rigid material used for window frames, plumbing, and many other applications.

Pros and Cons of uPVC Windows:

The affordability, durability and low maintenance of uPVC makes it a popular choice for replacement windows:


  • Affordable – All other factors being equal, uPVC windows are significantly less expensive than wood or aluminum.
  • Low Maintenance – Aside from cleaning, uPVC windows require little care. They aren’t affected by damp weather and won’t rot, rust or corrode.
  • Energy Efficient – uPVC has high thermal efficiency and can reduce heating costs.
  • Sound Insulation – UPVC has great soundproofing properties. Have noisy neighbors? UPVC windows can reduce outside noise by up to 70%!


  • PVC contains compounds called dioxins and can also contain additives like cadmium and lead. Assuming your windows have been manufactured to meet modern standards and regulations, they pose no day-to-day harm. However, if uPVC is burned, these dioxins are released into the environment where traces of these organic pollutants will remain active for a long time.
  • Less durable than aluminum – uPVC windows are durable, but the frames tend to degrade over time. They generally last around 10-25 years.

Pros and Cons of Aluminum Windows

Strong, durable and versatile, aluminum is a popular favorite, especially for commercial use.


  • Strong – Aluminum is much stronger than uPVC
  • Durability – Aluminum windows can last twice as long as uPVC, and they typically have a longer warrantee – 20 years or more. Properly cared for, your aluminum windows can last much longer than that.
  • Modern aluminum is low maintenance – Untreated aluminum can corrode, but look for powder coated Powder coated aluminum is almost as low maintenance as uPVC.
  • Suitable for very large windows – Because of its strength, aluminum frames are suitable for very large windows and windows with a thin profile.
  • Environmentally friendly – Aluminum is a naturally-occurring metal. It can easily be recycled and doesn’t contain the toxins found in PVC. Recycled aluminum is highly re-usable and producing it only takes 5% of the energy it took to manufacture the original metal.


  • Price – Aluminum windows are more expensive than comparable uPVC windows.
  • Poor sound insulation – uPVC is the hands-down winner here. Aluminum doesn’t insulate your home from outside noise very well.
  • Can be less energy-efficient – In its natural state, aluminum is a thermal conductor, which means it conducts heat and cold instead of insulating. However modern aluminum windows can be almost as energy efficient as uPVC, if manufactured using technology like a polyamide thermal barrier.

If you’re shopping around for replacement windows, give Reflect Window and Door a call. We offer window and door installation and replacement services in the greater Edmonton area and would be happy to schedule a free consultation and provide a recommendation that suits your needs. Call us today!