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Metal & Glass Perspectives: Crittall Windows vs Aluminium Windows

27th July 2023

Metal & Glass Perspectives: Crittall Windows vs Aluminium Windows

27th July 2023

In this article

Background on Crittall Windows

Crittal windows are a type of steel-framed window that has been manufactured by the company Crittall Windows Ltd. for over 100 years. Crittall windows can be categorised by their slim, elegant looking frames that are made of steel or iron, allowing a large expanse for glass.

Originally made in the UK, Crittall windows began to grow more popular during the Art Deco movement as their sleek and minimal design went well with and complimented the architectural styles of the building at the time. They were most often used in residential settings, commercial buildings and sometimes on industrial buildings as well.

Crittall buildings are known for their strength, aesthetic look and their durability and wear. The steel or iron frame provides structural stability and it can support larger glass panels in comparison to traditional wooden frames.

Aluminium Windows

Aluminium windows are windows that feature frames that are made primarily of aluminium. Aluminium is a lightweight and extremely durable metal that is known for its strength and also its resistance to corrosion. Aluminium windows have become very popular as they have a sleek and minimalistic appearance as well as their versatility and low maintenance requirements. 

Aluminium windows have much slimmer frames compared to uPVC and Timber framed windows. Aluminium windows are often chosen as they get the best view of the scenery around your home. Aluminium windows have incredible durability throughout bad weather that makes aluminium windows a good choice for homes in coastal / high-wind areas.

Advantages of Crittall windows

The advantages of Crittall windows include:

  • Their timeless aesthetic. Crittall windows have a distinct and noticeable look and feel to them. The slimmer steel frames create a clean, elegant and classy look that can compliment and work well with both traditional style buildings and modern architectural style buildings.
  • Maximum natural light. The thin frames allow for a large unit of glass, that ultimately maximises the amount of natural light that enters into the interior space of your home. These windows can help to create a bright and airy atmosphere.
  • Durability and strength. These windows are built with steel frames that offer incredible durability and strength. Steel is known for its resistance to the outside elements and extreme weather conditions, ensuring the windows long life span and structural stability.
  • Energy efficiency. The more modern style designs of Crittall windows can be designed and manufactured with additional features such as thermal breaks or insulated glass to help the owners to improve the building's energy efficiency. The features mentioned above help to reduce heat transfer, enhanced insulation and can help to contribute to lower energy consumption.

Advantages of Aluminium windows

The advantages of aluminium windows are:

  • Modern style and appearance. Aluminium windows are most likely to have a sleek and contemporary appearance. This appearance can be categorised by cleaner lines and very slim profiles. The design versatility of aluminium windows allows for a wide range of architectural styles and interior design to be enhanced and implemented with aluminium windows.
  • Durability and low maintenance. Aluminium is a material that is highly resistant to rusting, rotting and corrosion which makes aluminium windows a great window choice for various different climates or locations. Aluminium windows require very little maintenance as they do not need to be sealed or painted when they are installed. Regularly cleaning with a non-abrasive cloth and products or mild soap and warm water, is enough to keep the windows in good condition and performing well.
  • Security. The aluminium frames can be resistant to physical force and they can be incredibly difficult to break or damage. Adding high quality locks onto your aluminium windows can provide a higher level of added security and put off people trying to gain unauthorised access to the building.
  • Sound insulation. Aluminium frames can provide effective sound insulation properties to the building. The seal and glazing in the windows can also contribute to this. With a high glazed glass unit being put into the aluminium frame it partners them up and creates a highly soundproofed solution. The sounds of pesky nosy neighbours and unwanted noise from the public passersby as well as loud traffic outside too.
  • Environmentally friendly. Aluminium is a recyclable material and aluminium windows can be recycled at the end of their duration, which can in turn help to reduce the environmental impact on the environment. 

Disadvantages of Crittall windows

Crittall windows may be popular and have some advantages however they do come with downsides as well…

  • Thermal efficiency. Traditional Crittall windows that are made with steel frames without including thermal breaks don’t always provide the same level of thermal insulation as other window types. Steel is a great conductor of heat which can give the building increased heat transfer and therefore potential energy inefficiency. 
  • Condensation. Crittall windows, especially the older versions of the windows or single glazed versions of the windows might be more susceptible to condensation compared to other window types that have better insulating properties. This can happen when there is a big temperature difference between the inside and outside of the building.
  • Noise reduction. Crittall windows use steel in their frames and, especially older versions of the Crittall windows, as they may not provide as much insulation from sound as other types of windows with different frames. Steel is a good conductor of sound, and if the windows are not manufactured with additional products such as acoustic treatments and additional glazing, exterior sound and unwanted noise will be more audible inside the building.
  • Cost & Maintenance. While Crittall windows are considered to require minimal maintenance, the steel frames can be susceptible to corrosion especially in areas with high humidity and corrosive environments, regular rust treatments and repainting is required to upkeep the appearance of the windows. Also, the cost of the Crittall windows is more expensive than other types of windows. This is because of material costs, manufacturing process and the craftsmanship involved in creating these types of windows. Costs can become even higher, depending on specific designs, customisations and features that may be chosen to include on the windows.

Disadvantages of aluminium windows

  • Vulnerability to impact damage. Aluminium is a durable metal material, however it may also be prone to becoming dented or occurring damage from impact compacted to other window materials you can choose from such as uPVC. However this can depend on the thickness and quality of the aluminium that is used for the job.
  • Potential for corrosion. Even though aluminium is naturally resistant to corrosion, it can still be susceptible to oxidation over time, which is a chemical reaction when the aluminium comes into contact with oxygen and an example of oxidation is rusting. This can happen particularly more regularly in areas that have a higher humidity or even coastal environments. However aluminium windows can be treated with coatings to minimise the risk of corrosion and rusting.
  • Limited colour options. Aluminium windows come in a range of standard colours but the customisation options can be more limited than in choice compared to other windows materials such as timber frames and / or uPVC frames. If you want a non-standard colour it may therefore require an additional cost, or may need to be specially ordered.

Design aesthetic comparison of Crittall windows & Aluminium windows

Crittall Windows

  • Timeless charm. Crittall windows have a distinct kind of aesthetic with a timeless charm that many people know and love. Crittall windows are often associated with Art Deco styles and characteristics. These windows have slim steel frames with horizontal/vertical glazing bars and they also have clean lines. Crittall windows are considered to be elegant and give a touch of traditional and contemporary feel to the design.
  • Heritage. Crittall windows have a strong heritage that dates back to the early 20th century. Crittall windows can be associated with historic buildings, especially in Europe and the UK. They succeed in achieving a vintage and/or historical aesthetic. They are a great choice for trying to preserve the character of a historic property.

Aluminium Windows

  • Contemporary style. Aluminium windows have a sleek, smooth and modern look that fits in seamlessly with new and contemporary architecture and design. Clean lines, slim profiles and smoother finishes of aluminium frames all add up to a sleek and aesthetic minimalistic and sophisticated look.
  • Versatility. Aluminium windows can come in a wide range of different styles, which can allow you to customise them to how you want them to look to suit different architectural settings. Aluminium windows can be designed as casement windows, sliding windows, awning windows or even tilting / turning windows which offers you flexibility to match your needs to various design requirements.
  • Integration. Aluminium windows can be seamlessly integrated into modern buildings that have modern building materials like, glass, concrete or composite panels. Being able to integrate seamlessly into modern buildings helps the building as a whole to be and look cohesive and contemporary keeping up with the architectural style.

So, what do we know?

Both Crittall windows and aluminium windows have advantages and disadvantages as well as different design possibilities. Crittall windows give a timeless charm, making them a popular choice if you’re looking for a vintage aesthetic. On the other hand we have aluminium windows that showcase a sleek and contemporary style with their clean lines, versatility and a range of colour options. 

When making the decision of deciding between the two metallic window types, you need to consider specific requirements you want such as energy efficiency, security and maintenance levels.

Ultimately, the choice between Crittall windows and aluminium windows should be based on your personal preferences, the architectural context, and the desired visual impact. We recommend consulting with professionals, like us, to help you consider factors such as insulation, maintenance, and overall design goals to make an informed decision.