The aluminium renaissance

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Steve Bromberg of Express Bi-Folding Doors looks at why he believes that more housebuilders than ever are ditching PVCu in favour of aluminium

When it comes to the design of a residential or commercial property, the finer details can make all the difference.

While windows are of course an integral component to any property, the aesthetic can often be as important as the functionality. Compromise in these areas is now a thing of the past for the modern, discerning consumer looking for their comfort and design needs to be equally met – and it’s all thanks to the rise and resurgence of aluminium windows.

The 1980s was the decade of leg warmers, A Flock of Seagulls and – of huge impact to the UK housing market – PVCu windows. As the vinyl craze swept through British homes, both wooden windows and the rarer aluminium options fell to the wayside, with the latter gaining a negative reputation throughout the decade for a perceived lack of functional quality. Aluminium windows tended not to be thermally broken, meaning they were full of cold spots and would condensate badly. However, since the turn of the millennium the thermal insulation of aluminium windows has improved dramatically, and so too has their popularity.

With the technology having now been mastered by aluminium window manufacturers, thermally broken aluminium is regarded as the most suitable material to produce products such as bi-folding and sliding windows and doors, which require expansive design features and intricate components. Alongside the all-important environmental benefits, aluminium is essentially maintenance free, meaning that keeping the bottom tracks clear is the only maintenance needed on these modern folding and sliding door systems.

The advances in thermal break technology ensure that products now surpass all current and future building regulations. Unlike materials such as timber and PVCu, aluminium does not breathe, nor expand or contract. Due to its strength, commercial buildings typically have aluminium products installed, because they will stand the test of time, and this thinking is being transferred to domestic properties.

The quality of the technology and mechanics of aluminium systems, coupled with the demand for a modern aesthetic which has become synonymous with the slick and sleek design, has led to the resurgence of aluminium windows in the UK market. While PVCu windows are becoming less and less popular, largely due to the outdated styles of previous decades and timber windows often resulting in consumers having to cough up more cash than they wish to spend, aluminium windows have become the happy medium.

The slender frames available with aluminium windows allow homeowners to replicate the fashionable Crittall-style steel windows but with the thermal insulation of aluminium. Also, due to consumer demand, a lot of companies now offer aluminium windows, meaning prices have come down considerably, making them an increasingly popular choice for housebuilders and developers alike.

As well as the initial cost saving, aluminium products also require far less upkeep than their alternatives by comparison, so consumers can be safe in the knowledge that they are making a sensible investment.

Additionally, the strength of aluminium technology ensures that all systems operate effortlessly, as well as guaranteeing years of reliability and security. Despite its strength, aluminium is very light, which means windows are slimmer due to less frame and more glass. The strength of the profile lends itself to bigger opening sashes, allowing designs to be more bespoke in their nature than wood and plastic.

Aluminium surfaces are also available in hundreds of colours, all of which are commercially powder coated onto the profile. With guarantees available for up to 25 years, not only do they offer greater peace of mind and choice, they make it easier to brighten up a home. Stylish, reliable, and offering the best value for money, it’s easy to see why more and more people are turning to aluminium when choosing the best windows for them and their property.

Steve Bromberg is managing director at Express Bi-Folding Doors