Windows play a crucial role in any home. When selecting the right windows for your house, the choices can seem overwhelming. Among the available options, three main types of windows stand out: aluminum-clad, vinyl, and composite. 

Each type of window offers its own set of advantages and considerations. Some options are more durable, while others are known for their aesthetic appeal or energy efficiency. In this blog, we’ll explain the differences between these window types, exploring their pros and cons to help you make an informed choice for your home. 

Comparing Aluminum-Clad vs. Vinyl vs. Composite Windows

What Are Aluminum-Clad Windows?

Aluminum-clad windows are constructed with a combination of materials, typically featuring a wooden frame covered with aluminum on the exterior surface. This design offers durability and low-maintenance aluminum on the exterior of the window while preserving the warmth and aesthetic appeal of wood on the interior of the window. The aluminum cladding serves as a protective shield against the elements, offering enhanced weather resistance and longevity to the window.

aluminum clad windows

Pros and Cons of Aluminum-Clad Windows: 


  • Durability: Aluminum-clad windows are highly durable and corrosion-resistant, making them suitable for various climates.
  • Low Maintenance: The aluminum exterior requires minimal upkeep and does not require painting or sealing like traditional wooden windows.
  • Weather Resistance: The aluminum cladding protects against moisture, wind, and UV rays.
  • Aesthetic Versatility: Aluminum-clad windows come in a range of colors and finishes, allowing for customization to match any home.


  • Cost: Aluminum-clad windows tend to be more expensive than vinyl or composite options, primarily due to the combination of materials and manufacturing process.
  • Thermal Conductivity: Aluminum is a conductor of heat and cold, which may reduce energy efficiency compared to other window types.
  • Limited Wood Options: While the interior can feature the warmth of wood, the selection of wood may be limited compared to solid wood windows.

If you’re looking for high-quality aluminum-clad windows, Anderson Windows & Doors is one of the brands we recommend. Anderson’s E-series is designed to withstand the rigors of nature while providing timeless beauty. These windows showcase the benefits of aluminum cladding without compromising on style or performance.

What Are Vinyl Windows?

Vinyl windows are crafted from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a versatile synthetic material known for its durability and low maintenance characteristics. These windows consist of hollow frames filled with insulation, providing thermal efficiency and sound insulation. Vinyl windows are renowned for their affordability and wide range of design options, making them popular for homeowners seeking cost-effective and versatile window solutions.

North Star vinyl windows

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows: 


  • Affordability: Vinyl windows are typically more budget-friendly compared to other window materials.
  • Low Maintenance: Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance-free, requiring only occasional cleaning with soap and water to maintain their appearance.
  • Energy Efficiency: The insulating properties of vinyl windows help reduce heat transfer, improving energy efficiency and lowering heating and cooling costs.
  • Variety of Styles: Vinyl windows are available in a wide range of styles, including casement, slider, awning, bay, and traditional single and double-hung windows, so homeowners can find the perfect windows for every room in their house.


  • Limited Color Options: While vinyl windows offer versatility in terms of style, the color options may be limited compared to aluminum-clad or composite windows.
  • Potential for Warping: In extreme temperatures, vinyl windows may be susceptible to warping or distortion, although modern manufacturing techniques have mitigated this issue to a large extent.
  • Less Aesthetic Appeal: Some homeowners may prefer the natural look of wood or the sleekness of aluminum-clad windows over the appearance of vinyl windows.

A type of vinyl window that we supply for our customers is North Star’s 1000 Series. This flagship line offers exceptional value, combining superior craftsmanship with advanced energy-saving technologies. With a diverse array of styles available, including casement, slider, awning, bay, and traditional single and double-hung windows, North Star ensures a window option to suit every homeowner’s unique needs and preferences.

What Are Composite Windows?

Composite windows are constructed from a blend of materials, typically combining wood fibers or particles with thermoplastic polymers or resins. This composite material offers the benefits of both wood and synthetic materials, resulting in durable, energy-efficient, and aesthetically appealing windows. Composite windows are known for their strength, stability, and resistance to rotting, warping, and corrosion, making them an ideal choice for various climates and architectural styles.

composite windows

Pros and Cons of Composite Windows: 


  • Durability: Composite windows are highly durable and resistant to moisture, rot, insects, and environmental damage, ensuring long-term performance and reliability.
  • Insulation Properties: The combination of materials in composite windows provides excellent thermal insulation, helping to maintain consistent indoor temperatures and reduce energy costs.
  • Aesthetic Options: Composite windows offer a wide range of finishes, colors, and textures, allowing homeowners to customize their windows.
  • Low Maintenance: Composite windows require minimal maintenance, with no need for painting or staining, making them a convenient and low-hassle option.


  • Cost: Composite windows tend to be more expensive than vinyl or aluminum-clad options due to the high-quality materials and craftsmanship involved in their production.
  • Weight: Composite windows may be heavier than other window types, requiring sturdy frames and professional installation.
  • Limited Availability: While composite windows offer many advantages, they may not be as widely available as vinyl or aluminum-clad options, limiting the choices for some homeowners.

When it comes to top-of-the-line composite windows, Marvin Windows & Doors always comes to mind. Crafted with precision engineering and attention to detail, Marvin’s composite windows offer unmatched durability, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. 

The Key Differences and Considerations of Aluminum-Clad vs. Vinyl vs. Composite Windows: 

When selecting windows, it’s essential to weigh the differences and consider various factors to make the best choice for your home. Here’s a summary of aluminum-clad, vinyl, and composite windows, highlighting their standout features:

Durability | Composite windows typically offer the highest level of durability due to their resistance to warping, rotting, and moisture damage. They are often engineered to withstand harsh weather conditions and maintain structural integrity over time.

Energy Efficiency | Vinyl windows offer superior energy efficiency due to their insulating properties, which help minimize heat transfer and reduce energy costs.

Maintenance | Vinyl windows require the least maintenance, typically only needing occasional cleaning with soap and water to maintain their appearance. They do not need to be painted or sealed.

Cost | Vinyl windows are generally the most budget-friendly option, making them popular for homeowners seeking cost-effective solutions.

Aesthetic Appeal | Aluminum-clad windows offer a sleek and modern appearance, enhancing the overall look of the window and adding a touch of sophistication to any home.

Top Window Brands

Andersen Windows is at the top of our list of best window brands because of its customization. The company has been in the window industry for more than 115 years, and in that time, it has learned a thing or two about windows, and it shows. If you’re looking for the perfect blend of luxury wood finishes and custom window options at a surprisingly affordable price, Andersen is the brand for you.

If you’re looking for energy-efficient vinyl, North Star is an ideal window brand. As a leading manufacturer of vinyl windows, North Star has spent more than 25 years in the industry developing a wide selection of some of the most energy-efficient, durable, and exceptionally affordable windows on the market.

If you’re looking for windows in something other than vinyl, Marvin Windows is one of the best brands. They are well known for their fiberglass windows and doors, which are 38% more durable than vinyl competitors. Fiberglass is an exceptional window material that offers the durability features you love, like resistance against warping, chipping, rot, and flaking, plus the quality and beauty your home needs.

Jeld-Wen® recognizes that windows and doors aren’t mere fixtures; they embody comfort, security, and elegance within your home. With a rich heritage spanning six decades, they’ve earned a sterling reputation in the realm of home enhancement. Jeld-Wen® stands tall as a pioneer in crafting energy-efficient, durable wood windows and doors.

Zeeland Lumber & Supply: Your Trusted Window Experts

As you embark on the journey of selecting the perfect windows for your home, we’re here to help. At Zeeland Lumber & Supply, we know how essential it is to consider factors such as durability, energy efficiency, maintenance, and cost. Each type of window—be it aluminum-clad, vinyl, or composite—has its own set of advantages and considerations.

Our team of experts is dedicated to assisting you in finding the ideal windows that not only enhance the beauty and functionality of your home but also fit seamlessly into your lifestyle and budget. Contact us today to get started!

Skip to content