From the start of our container house project, our choice in door and window frames has been a no-brainer. There was no question between any of us as to what type of material we would choose for our frames between wood, steel or aluminium; we are using aluminium. There are so many advantages of using aluminium door and window frames on your projects, over wood or steel. Have a read and let us know what you would choose for your own projects!
If you’re planning a building, or considering a renovation projection, we suggest you consider the advantages of aluminium window and door frames over wood or steel.
Installation Advantages of Aluminium Door and Window Frames
When using steel or wooden frames, the builders have to build the frames into the brickwork. In comparison, aluminium frames can be fitted after the building work is complete. Obviously, the builders would leave openings where they wish to install doors and windows, but the process is much easier.
The best part of being able to fit windows and doors after the brick work is complete, is that you minimize the chance of scratches and smashed glass by accidentally dropped bricks or tools.
Aluminium windows are available in a variety of standard colours; either powder-coated or anodized. No painting necessary!
One still has to paint or varnish wooden window frames after installation. Steel windows take the longest to install. A professional glazier will fit the glass, securing it with putty. The glazier has to take the area’s climate into consideration to reduce the chances of the putty cracking. One can only paint the frames once the putty has cured over a period of two to seven weeks.
It is interesting to note that newer wooden frames are usually made out of inferior wood in comparison to the wooden frames found on older houses. In South Africa, most of the frames available to purchase are constructed from meranti. On older houses, you will find frames made from Oregan pine, meranti and occasionally oak. Current farming methods, climate change and the warmer areas in which the trees are grown have contributed towards the less dense wood of today. The less dense wood is, the softer and more easily damaged it is.
A badly constructed wooden window frame will begin to warp with the weight of the glass and itself over time. Inferior wood will add to the problem.
If you live in a house on the beach front where sea spray continuously splashes the exterior, your maintenance costs are going to be high. However, even on these houses, aluminium frames have significantly lower maintenance costs.
Both steel and aluminium frames suffer from corrosion. However, steel rusts exponentially faster than aluminium corrodes. In most areas, the corrosion of aluminium will be barely perceptible over the lifetime of the building.
If you go for steel, you’ll find yourself having to repaint the frames every few years. The frequency will depend on the climate of the area, and the quality of the paint previously used. After several coats, you would need to strip down the frames to bare metal, re-prime them and then paint them.
Kevin reckons that if you are planning a paint job, you need to know that paint manages to get everywhere it doesn’t belong before you even manage to open the tin. Therefore, repainting window and door frames might result in you unintentionally recolouring your carpet or dog. 😀
The powder-coating used on aluminium frames is extremely durable and lasts significantly longer than paint or varnish.
Combating Wood Rot
Wooden frames have to be varnished or painted more often than steel frames. The recommended minimum requirements for wooden windows is usually two years, but if your house is exposed to a lot of sun or damp, this may increase.
Wood may succumb to dry rot, where the wood dries out, cracks and becomes powdery. It may succumb to wet rot, where the wood grows mould and the mould undermines the structure of the wood. In order to prevent this, maintenance is extremely important.
Combating Insect Damage
Wooden frames are the only frames at risk of damage by insects such as termites or borer beetles. Frame manufacturers treat new wooden frames with pesticides to prevent insects making their home in them. Some people may consider this a health risk.
Older frames would be more at risk of insect damage because the pesticides are no longer active.
Securing the Glass to Window Frames
As mentioned above, a glazier would secure the glass in steel frames using putty. If it is incorrectly installed, the putty will crack and dislodge after some time. A glazier would have to then replace the putty. It can take some time to remove the old putty when fitting a new pane of glass, for whatever reason. Again, you would only be able to paint the putty once it had completely cured (after two to seven weeks).
Wooden window frames use wood strips to secure the glass. This wood is at as much risk as the rest of the frame in regards to rot and insect damage. It can be difficult to remove the wooden strips in a window in order to replace a pane of glass. If the frame is no longer in good condition, the glazier would run the risk of damaging the entire frame even if only replacing one pane of glass.
In aluminium windows, the glass is secured with a UV resistant rubber strip that lasts many years, is readily available and inexpensive. Replacing the a pane of glass is as easy as removing the aluminium profile and the rubber strip, replacing the glass, fitting the rubber strip and clipping in the aluminium profile. It’s a quick job, thereby reducing your labour costs for most repairs.
Should you suffer a catastrophic accident (you say your surfboard blew off the bakkie??), and find yourself in the position of having to replace an entire window, removing an aluminium frame will cause the least damage to the brickwork.
Did you know that aluminium only uses five percent of the initial energy required to create an aluminium product, in order to recycle it? Steel, in comparison, can use 25% or more of the initial energy required.
Aluminium windows seal well which helps reduce the heating and cooling costs of a building. This is something that architects take into serious consideration when designing buildings.
Responsibly sourced wooden frames are obviously an eco-friendly choice for your building. However, unlike aluminium or steel, you would find yourself throwing out old and badly damaged wooden frames. The wood is unlikely to be in a state in which it can be upcycled for anything else. And it cannot be recycled.
Are Aluminium Frames For You?
If you’re looking for something lightweight, durable, and requiring minimal maintenance, then aluminium door and window frames are your best choice! They are also a stylish choice.
Gauteng! Where to Get Your Aluminium Door and Window Frames
This article was sponsored by RDA Aluminium, a small business located in Alberton, south of Johannesburg. Their passion for aluminium doors and windows can clearly be seen on their website, (which, by the way, you seriously should check out! Link above). Not only will they provide you with frames for your residential or commercial project, but they will custom make your frames at no extra cost.
Quality is of the utmost importance to RDA Aluminium. They are members of the Association of Architectural Aluminium Manufacturers of South Africa (AAAMSA), the South African Glass and Glazing Association (SAGGA) and purchase their stock from Wispeco (Pty) Ltd, the largest producer of architectural aluminium in Southern Africa.
Photos supplied by RDA Aluminium.