In the design world, black is hot, hot, hot. Everyone wants a black exterior and a black interior for their new doors and windows. Dark colors are a great option for aluminum clad wood windows but there are some important factors to take into consideration when deciding to go with black, bronze, dark gray or any other dark colored window.
Here are the important details to consider before choosing your next aluminum clad window or door
Let's look closer at what these factors have to do with dark colored windows as well as why these details are important.
Aluminum Thickness - or the thickness of the Aluminum Cladding - There are two main types of aluminum cladding used in aluminum clad wood windows. Extruded & Roll-form.
Extruded Aluminum Cladding - Think of the thickness of a Quarter
Extruded Aluminum is about the thickness of a quarter. This type of cladding is structural because of how thick it is. Extruded aluminum is not likely to dent or to lose its shape when hit such as in a hail storm.
Roll-Form Aluminum Cladding - Think Soda Can
Roll-Form Aluminum is thin like a soda or pop can. This type of cladding wraps around the wood and is not structural. Roll-form cladding dents very easily which can cause the cladding to pull away from the wood and let water in. One aspect about roll form cladding, however, is that if the cladding does get damaged it can be exchanged for new cladding. This needs to be done quickly before water has a chance to get access to the wood behind the cladding.
Finishes - or what paint material/finish the manufacturer uses-Different manufacturers use different paint finishes on their aluminum cladding such as Kynar, Polyester, Urethane, etc. . AAMA, American Architectural Manufacturers Association, has different ratings for coatings (finishes) on aluminum extrusions (the cladding). They test these different coatings in South Florida for color retention, chalk resistance, erosion, etc. The three AAMA ratings include 2603, 2604 & 2605.
2603 rating shows - “slight fading” after 1 year on the South Florida fence test
2604 rating means - the paint finish must meed standards for a minimum of 5 years.
2605 rating must - meet standards for a minimum of 10 years.
Windows or Doors constructed with extruded aluminum generally have a longer cladding warranty than those constructed with roll-form aluminum. This is because the exterior finish lasts longer on the thicker extruded aluminum.
Windows that have an AAMA 2603 rating will have a shorter cladding warranty around 2 years
Windows with a 2605 AAMA rating will have as long as a 20 or 30-year exterior cladding warranty.
It is really important to consider the AAMA ratings if you are considering dark colored windows such as black, dark gray, bronze, etc. because the dark colors will fade much more quickly and unevenly on windows with a AAMA 2603 rating vs. the longer lasting 2605 rating.
8 Year old Window with roll form cladding and an AAMA rating of 2603
original color- Bronze, significant & uneven fading & discoloration present.
Here is a break down of the cladding types & AAMA ratings for some of the more popular aluminum clad-wood window lines.
Elevations - Do the windows or doors face North, South, East or West?
The elevation of your windows or doors play a significant role in the longevity of your dark colors as well. Windows and Doors that face West or South will fade more quickly from UV Rays than windows and doors on East & North elevations. In addition to the elevation, areas that receive more shade such as under an overhang will fade at a different rate than the area in full sunlight. This is evident in the photo above where the round top window is still a darker bronze than the casements below.
Black windows and doors are a great option for a new construction home or for replacement windows but it is important to consider the above factors such as the cladding type and paint finish rating (AAMA rating) before making a decision. Researching the components of your windows and doors (how they are made) prior to making such a large investment will save you money in life cycle costs down the road.