Choosing the right material for the doors and windows in our home is a really important stage in the design of the space. This aspect is important not only because of the final finish and appearance of the house, but above all because the specific material is responsible for the particular properties of the joinery we choose.
What is important? How do you choose the right material for your window and door frames?
Material durability – one of the most important issues when choosing a material
The choice of materials for windows and doors is very large indeed. But why does aluminium stand out? First and foremost because aluminium is a metal with excellent mechanical properties that has revolutionised many technological sectors.
Although it is much lighter than other metals, it has a very high level of mechanical strength, which is why it is so widely used in aeronautics (NASA technologies), a field that is undeniably very demanding. In addition, aluminium is highly resistant to many forms of corrosion and has almost zero maintenance costs.
Aluminium joinery has another important property that we particularly want to focus on, right in this article. We are referring to fire resistance! Let’s analyse the most popular materials used in the manufacture of door and window frames to contrast them with aluminium in terms of fire resistance.
Vinyl windows are windows with frames made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the same material used to make pipes and fittings for plumbing. The material is extruded into a simple shape and then processed into a window frame and filled with glass.
Vinyl windows are currently one of the most popular window frame choices for homeowners. They are the most affordable option and are known to be good insulators. Vinyl is also a very versatile material that can be used to make most window styles, so you can get exactly what you’re looking for.
Let’s now focus on the fire resistance of vinyl. In terms of flammability, this material has a similar resistance to other popular materials. In terms of material, PVC windows are classified as flammability grade II. This means that polyvinyl chloride is hardly flammable. In addition, the material has self-extinguishing properties, which means that it burns almost completely in a fire. Unfortunately, unlike aluminium, polyvinyl chloride already releases truly toxic substances at 120°C.
Fibreglass windows are a less common window frame installation option, but are becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons. This window frame material is very durable and relatively easy to maintain. Fibreglass windows are made from extruded sections of fibreglass and are similar in shape to vinyl frames.
Fibreglass windows are known to withstand weather and temperature changes better than any other material. This is because fibreglass is so close in composition to the glazing used to create windows, so both materials expand and contract by the same amount during temperature changes. Fibreglass is an excellent insulator, so the window frames prevent heat transfer. With proper maintenance, these windows can last an impressive 80 years.
In terms of heat resistance, fibreglass has quite impressive properties, which unfortunately gradually disappear as temperatures rise above 200°C. In the case of fires, we can speak of temperatures ranging from 800°C to as high as 1200°C. So juxtaposing aluminium with fibreglass, in terms of fire resistance, we think the answer as to which material is better comes to mind.
Wood joinery can be just as durable and long-lasting as other material options used for door and window frames. However, in order for this to happen, the wood needs to be properly maintained. Wood has been used in homes for hundreds of years. Although the material has adapted to modern standards, it still offers the same overall strength and aesthetic that it always has.
However, compared to aluminium, wood is quite expensive. It also requires maintenance. In addition, the material is also prone to rot and ageing. And of course, with this everyone will probably agree, no matter how you protect wood, its flammability compared to other materials will be the highest and its fire resistance negligible.
Finally, we have left aluminium.
Aluminium windows are light, strong and durable. The materials used in their manufacture are also very malleable, meaning that aluminium windows can be adapted to almost any frame shape.
Aluminium frames are significantly lighter compared to products made from other materials, making them a much more cost-effective choice. In addition, due to the lighter weight and greater flexibility, installation costs will be significantly lower.
When it comes to fire resistance, aluminium leaves the competition far behind. This material is one of the most popular solutions for fire protection systems. It owes its fire resistance to its very high melting point. Aluminium is the material used in the majority of fire protection systems, which are based on incorporating special glass panes into aluminium window and door frames.
Aluminium does not catch fire and does not emit toxic substances. If you want high fire resistance (and more, but that’s not what this article is about), aluminium frames will be the best possible choice.