For the architect, there is no greater frustration than realising right at the project’s end, that the quality of the materials or the installation of those materials, compromised the overall vision of the completed architecture. This guide provides a comprehensive look at everything to do with aluminium doors and windows so that you can make the superior choice, for your reputation as the project manager or Architect, as well as for your clients.
Why aluminium doors and windows are the Architect’s choice today
Aluminium weighs approximately one-third as much as steel or copper. It is ductile and easily machined and cast. In addition, it has excellent corrosion resistance and durability so it keeps looking good for longer. Aluminum’s use exceeds that of any other metal except iron.
It’s no wonder it has become a favourite material used in architectural planning.
In fact, according to statistics, aluminium is used in 74% residential applications compared to timber which accounts for about 24%.
Let’s get into more detail about what’s making professionals choose this material for windows and doors:
#1: Modern & minimal look
The most attention grabbing contemporary designs usually include aluminium doors or windows or both. Another reason why aluminium is so popular is because the metal can be made and built to just about any size and shape, and in doors and windows, looks good on commercial buildings as well as residential homes.
#2: Durable & looks good for longer
Aluminium is specifically known for its durability properties, all the more so when exposed to harmful or harsh elements.
Aluminium is especially suited for the South African climate because it handles damp, rain and harsh sunlight very well. It is not affected by UV rays, and will not warp, crack, discolour, rot or rust. The metal is also fireproof for added safety.
Aluminium metal is a lightweight but highly durable low density metal. Essentially, it can be used for large windows and door designs without requiring bulky frame support.
Unlike PVC windows and doors, aluminium is highly resistant to corrosion, and known to stand up to harsh exterior elements.
As a result, the material keeps looking good for longer than other materials such as wood, so your clients stay impressed.
#3: Easy and low cost to maintain
Aluminium doors and window frames require virtually no maintenance except for a wipe every few months.
When compared to the more traditional wooden frame, it does not require periodic sanding and painting or varnishing. Corrosion in aluminium is usually very minor and takes decades to form. This is yet another reason homeowners prefer aluminium windows and doors.
#4: Eco-friendly and energy efficient
Aluminium is completely recyclable and reusable, and the recycling process takes only 5% of the initial energy spent to mine and manufacture it, so it has a low carbon footprint. It’s a smart and more environmentally friendly choice, especially when compared to wood, which takes twenty or so years to grow back via trees.
When combined with appropriate performance glass, aluminium is energy efficient.
For example, Low-E glass has a microscopically thin coating of metal oxide on one of the internal glass surfaces in order to reflect heat, so it keeps warmth inside in winter, and heat out in summer.
This reduces energy usage.
#5: Economical for a number of reasons
Unlike other window and door framing options, aluminium frames are typically more cost-effective, especially over a period of time, because of their long-lasting nature and lack of heavy maintenance requirements.
If we compare aluminium with timber for example, timber is usually more expensive and requires more maintenance to keep it looking good.
Aluminium is far stronger than wood and PVC, and because there is typically no need for upkeep, the lifetime value is particularly excellent, so you’re also not spending anything on maintenance.
#6: Customisable for just about any look
Aluminium doors and windows can be powder-coated to give you different looks and finishes.
Aluminium can be customised for even the most challenging specifications and is suitable for large doors and sliding windows. Large timber panels, however, are prone to warping when exposed to harsh weather conditions, and of course, require a lot more maintenance.
Aluminium doors and windows come in a range of powder-coated colours to suit any design. Aluminium surfaces can be treated with colour, additional corrosion resistance and hardness; arresting wear-and-tear, and reflectivity can be added.
Aluminium gives the choice to use one colour on the inside and another one on the exterior of the frame so both the Architect and Interior Designer are happy.
#7: Adds light to homes or buildings
Aluminium door frames allow maximum natural sunlight into any building.
If more light is what you’re after, aluminium is ideal. The material allows for thin frames that are able to hold large panels of glass, letting the maximum amount of natural sunlight into any building.
Aluminium is especially good for sliding doors that allow homeowners to slide back the glass to display a beautiful open space.
What you need to know about aluminium doors
Aluminium doors are not only sleek and stylish, but they are customisable to give you the look you’re after.
They are popular and trusted for many reasons, and best of all is that they are generally not more pricey than most other options.
Aluminium doors are suitable for residential or commercial buildings; in residential buildings, they add light and a modern feel and add a professional look to commercial buildings.
Types of aluminium doors
By incorporating aluminium doors into your design, you get to design the exact entrance you are looking for; classic, modern, sleek, extravagant or simple.
Types of aluminium doors offered by Inso include:
All of our aluminium garage doors are overhead doors and customisable to suit space and aesthetic appeal.
Sliding folding doors
We offer various sliding door types:
Knysna sliding doors are called that because of the beautiful views of the town Knysna. These doors typically allow occupants to keep a view of the outdoors as far as possible, by installing glass sliding doors not just in one area, but in many.
Folding sliding doors, or bifold doors, facilitate an open-plan design; in homes typically leading to an outdoor area. In commercial buildings, they provide a larger entrance area. Each panel slides, folds and stacks itself against the next, providing a large opening to another space.
Slimline Prima sliding doors can be opened from the left or from the right. They are typical patio doors fitted with normal lever lock handles, but additional locks are available on request.
Palace multi sliding doors are just that: multi sliding doors for a larger area, for whatever reason. You may want to pull in more natural sunlight or extend an outdoor view when the doors are closed.
Hinge doors come in single or double style and offer customised handles and locks. Privacy glass or patterned finishes are available.
Pivot doors are useful in certain circumstances and come in single or double sizes. Their colour and finishing can be customised according to your purposes.
Tilt and turn doors offer a distinctive inward tilting feature for natural airflow, ideal for high-end residential and modern commercial buildings.
This door can be designed as a hinged door or casement window, or as a tilt and turn opening system.
Average lead times to manufacture
The various door types have different average lead times for manufacture or assembly. Here’s a quick guide:
- Sliding folding doors: 14 to 21 days
- Serene tilt and turn doors: 5 to 8 weeks
- Patio sliding doors: 7 to 10 days
- Hinge doors: 5 to 7 days
- Pivot doors: 5 to 7 days
- Multi sliding doors: 15 to 20 days
- Knysna sliding doors: 15 to 20 days
What you need to know about aluminium windows
Aluminium windows are customisable to your specifications in terms of size, are aesthetically pleasing, and available in many different finishes and colours.
They are a popular choice for the modern Architect because they are affordable and when partnered with the right glass, energy-efficient; keeping warmth in during winter and warmth out during summer.
Use them in any building, residential or commercial.
Types of aluminium windows
There are such a variety of aluminium windows available. Together with customisable finishes, you can achieve the look you desire, and provide functionality that is not available with other choices.
Types of aluminium windows offered by Inso include:
Casement windows are high-performance windows which cater specifically for high wind loads. They open from a hinge and come in two forms: side hung and top hung. They are suitable for both commercial and residential facilities and are also available with the “Double Point” Cam locking system.
The casement window design gives optimal control over the elements: wind, rain and ventilation, all to the exact degree, and are very good for placing on the weather facing side of buildings or homes. They can be opened during rain to let in the breeze but not the rain.
They vary in size according to your specifications.
Accommodates burglar bars.
Turn and Tilt windows are modern and sleek, often found in high-end homes and commercial buildings. They provide a seamless tilt and turn function; the tilt function allows for gentle air circulation and the turn option for maximum ventilation.
Horizontal sliding windows can be ordered in 2, 3 or 4 panels. There are a few different sliding window systems and the greatest variation between them is often a slim profile vs. a more bulky profile.
Sliding windows come in these variations:
Grecian sliding windows are another high-performance window, opening sideways so that window glass is not exposed to high winds. They can be ordered with up to four panels and come with the colour and finish of your choice.
Includes a hollow sump sill for enhanced water drainage.
Knysna sliding windows are very popular and used in many commercial and residential buildings. They slide open from the side and come in a number of panels according to your needs.
Palace Multi Sliding windows are actually used as a door/window. They come in 2 – 6 panels, opening in either a staggered manner, one panel after the other, or can be opened right across so that all panels slot into each other barring the last one.
Prima sliding windows can open from the left or from the right. It only accommodates single glazed glass.
Comes in a number of colours and finishes.
The ThermEco Sash window is much like the Casement window system; it’s a high-performance window system ideal for windy locations. It opens on a sturdy hinge. It is made up of panels, or sashes that are movable.
Way back, this type of system was often found in Georgian or Victorian homes. Of course, our versions have been modernised but they would still suit those kinds of buildings, depending on the type and finish you decide on.
They are suitable for both commercial and residential facilities.
Standard and custom sizes
There are many things to consider when deciding on windows and doors. For example, is the project for new construction, or a replacement? What will the windows and doors be used for? What look are you aiming for?
In that vein, what do Architects need to know regarding standard and custom sizes of aluminium doors and windows?
Advantages of standard sizes
- It’s more economical to fit a standard size to a building that already has a standard sized door or window. That means no additional breaking down to rebuild.
- They usually cost less than custom made.
- Most buildings are built with standard sizes.
- They can be bought off the shelf; no need to wait.
Advantages of custom sizes
- Custom sizes will give you exactly what you are looking for.
- The greatest advantage is that custom window sizes are energy efficient by allowing various energy saving glazing methods. You can also opt for a thicker airspace between panes, or use a triple pane design. Some higher end custom windows do not use air, but rather an inert gas such as argon.
- No drafts because custom windows better insulate the space.
- Unique design features you would not get with standard sizes.
Colours and finishes
One of the real advantages to aluminium doors and windows are that they are available in a vast number of colours and finishes.
The most popular options are usually the natural anodised finish (the silver colours), and the standard powder coated colours with the most common colours like white, bronze, dark greys, black and new silver. But you don’t have to settle for just a colour; aluminium finishes come in all variations to suit any design inside or outside or both.
You’re going to want to consider the glass in windows and doors, which can be optimised for various uses. Window glazing is an important consideration. There are different types of window glazing:
Types of glazing
To toughen glass
Toughened glass makes it more resistant to impact damage. If however, it does get broken, it shatters into small fragments to prevent major injuries.
Glass windows can be single, double or triple glazed. The difference between them means greater energy insulation and better noise reduction. Some triple glazing companies use different types of gas between the panes to maximise heat loss in winter and keep cool in summer.
Other benefits of triple glazing are increased security and reduced energy bills.
Of course, the more layers of glass, the more expensive it becomes, but this should be viewed as a long-term investment. Where cost is a barrier, an idea is to triple glaze the areas that would be impacted the most.
Laminated glass gives better protection to people and buildings than standard glass, as it offers resistance in an attempted forced entry. It is also effective for sound control and blocks 99% of UV rays.
Tinted glass reduces heat and sun glare, but keeps an unaffected view from the inside. It’s main purpose is to reduce the glare from the outside and protect interior furnishings from UV damage, as well as to decrease the amount of solar heat gain through windows.
Patterned glass is really mostly for decorative purposes as it only transmits slightly less light than clear glass.
High transmission low emissivity (low-e) glass
Low-E glass reduces heat loss through windows in order to keep warmth in.
Reflective glass allows in optimal light and at the same time, reduces glare from the sun to eliminate the need for blinds or curtains. When its combined with solar-controlling Low-E coating, it keeps buildings cool.
What to consider when installing aluminium doors and windows
Your clients rely on you to provide the very best. It is therefore critical to your reputation that you offer the very best in accordance with their budget, and that the following critical areas are considered when installing doors and windows:
Maintenance and operability
How much maintenance is required for the type of doors and windows, and what is the cost? Are your clients aware of and do they agree to the maintenance that your choice entails?
How will the windows and doors operate at the location of the building? For example, how will they function in rain and heavy wind in the coastal areas of South Africa?
How much illumination is required from windows? Where illumination is essential, can you integrate skylights, roof windows, and space frames to further address the issue? What type of doors and windows will provide the most light?
To ascertain the best choice of door and window, what is the room where they are to be installed used for? What type of door is best as an entrance? Does the room require maximised illumination or reduced sunlight rays? Is sound reduction necessary?
Efficiency and sustainability
The production of aluminum requires a great deal of energy and generates toxic by-products, but the finishing processes for wood raises questions about toxicity.
Aluminum and steel frames are easily recyclable as long as it’s not mixed up with sealants and glass fragments, which makes the material worth considerably less to a recycling contractor.
Renovation vs. replacement
When is renovating windows and doors better, and when is replacement the better option?
New windows provide increased energy performance but are costlier to install.
Dr. James Piper, P.E., of Bowie, Md., a renowned facilities consultant, says, “With the cost [of restoration] running only 25% to 30% that of replacement, restoration can extend the life of existing windows while providing many of the benefits of a replacement project.”
However, replacement may provide a significantly better ROI: if more than 20% of a building’s windows require restoration, replacement may be the less expensive option, because the cost of new windows is often less than restoring them. In addition, the end product is usually superior.
Security and safety
Since windows and doors make inhabitants more vulnerable to outside elements, perimeter security and occupant safety are critical factors in choosing window and door units, especially in high-crime South Africa.
Consider intrusion, but also fall-out or blast protection, fire safety, and weather impact. Some elements may conflict with others.
Another important aspect to consider is who you partner with, as your suppliers impact quality and project timeframes. Look for the following in an aluminium doors and windows supplier:
- Stability – how long have they been in business? Stability means your project won’t be used as a guinea pig because they’ve already cut their teeth on others. Inso has been in operation since 2000.
- Compliancy – do they need to be compliant with any standards; your own or for a client’s business? For example, Inso is a SANS 10400 XA compliant manufacturer that specialises in energy-saving products.
- Full service – find out what exactly is the supplier’s commitment to customers. For example, do they deliver, or must you collect? Do they install, or must you find an installer? It’s worth it to be clear cut and upfront so you know what to expect and of course, the total cost for manufacturing and installation. Inso offers full service as well as customisation to specification.
Finally, all these key elements offer critical value to the overall design, functionally, and choice. Remember that windows and doors are the ‘eyes’ of a building, and they should offer the most expressive part of the design.
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