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Community and Q&A

Vinyl windows vs. aluminum

Russell Poulston | Posted in General Questions on

I am north of the border in British Columbia and about to build a new house on Salt Spring Island. Any thoughts or comments on vinyl vs Aluminum? All double glazed.
They all seem to function the same. I do know the following
Vinyl are approximately half the price of aluminum ….. with wood finish inside.
Vinyl perform a bit better than aluminum. Vinyl do have a larger “visual” profile. I have read that some vinyl windows do twist a bit. Not sure if this is due to size or what.
Any feedback is appreciated.

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  1. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #1

    I can’t say I have a lot of comparative experience with Windows specifically, but I do have experience with these materials where they’ll be exposed to salt spray. Aluminum is severely degraded by salt spray. In the commerical systems I see, exposed aluminum antennas often require a protective coating near the coast to keep them from rotting in the salt spray. I would expect an aluminum window to do the same if there is any damage or wear at all to the finish.

    Vinyl doesn’t care about salt spray. Neither does fiberglass. Both will likely hold up better over time in an environment where salt spray is a concern.


    1. Russell Poulston | | #6

      Zephyr, thanks very much for taking the time to reply to my question. Answered and sorted. Viny is teh way to go.

  2. Expert Member
    Peter Yost | | #2

    Aluminum in windows is typically protected by a coating so that can be important to know about aluminum windows in "beach" or coastal environments:

    But in doing a quick bit of online research, interesting what it says here, from Milgard:

    "Aluminum is not recommended in beach homes for while the material is water resistant, it can suffer corrosion from salt water and salt air. The corrosion affects hardware operation and frame performance." -


    1. Russell Poulston | | #7

      Thanks very much Peter for the references and the response. Aluminum is certainly high in the galvanic series. Also interesting to note that Milgard do not recommend alu near the coast.

  3. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #3


    I build north of Sooke. The pre-finished aluminium windows I've put in on coastal projects deteriorated quite quickly. The vinyl ones cope a lot better.

    1. Russell Poulston | | #8

      Hi Malcolm. Thanks a lot for the response. Yours sort of clinched the deal for vinyl.

  4. Mike Simanyi | | #4

    I have aluminum windows on my home. If I recall correctly, the manufacturer recommended a Kynar finish for anyone within a couple miles of the ocean. Fortunately my location wasn't that close.

    I do wish I would have researched windows further before committing to them, but I know I wouldn't personally want vinyl since they can't be painted - at least not easily, and probably not reliably - and I wouldn't like to have bright white window frames. But if that's good for you, they certainly tip the cost / benefit analysis quite favorably.

    1. Expert Member
      Malcolm Taylor | | #5


      Almost all manufacturers of vinyl windows now offer a coloured finish on the exterior, and increasingly some now offer it (even in black) on the interior too.

      1. Russell Poulston | | #10

        Hi Malcolm. I appreciate your input. We are now going with vinyl and a coloured finish.

    2. Russell Poulston | | #9

      Thanks a lot Mike for taking the time to reply to my question. Decided to not go the aluminum route, even with a finish on the outside. For research, this question area is certainly excellent.

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