Window frames are the backbone of the window. When you are thinking of buying new windows, the most important thing you need to consider is the window frames themselves. They give life to your windows; hence you must go for the most durable and good quality window frames. It is more crucial to have the right type of frames than the window glass. A top-quality window frame will last you decades rather than a couple of years.
If you are considering to move your workplace, or if you are planning to do an extension due to an increase in work and employees, you will have to pick and choose several materials for the building work. Although most people pay more attention to the type of glass, shape and design, one of the most important things is to choose the right window frames.
Also, for your existing window frames, if you are considering to throw them away and replace with the new ones, you might be thinking of what type of window frames you’ll buy to replace them with. However, hold on to that thought before you throw your window frames away. This guide will help you to see if your old window frames can be cleaned so you do not have to replace them. Cleaning, of course, is much economical option than replacing the whole window frame. Also, it will save you a lot of business time and hassle.
Table of Contents
In this article you will find:
- Types of Window Frames
- Reasons Why Choosing Aluminium Window Frames is A Good Choice
- How Does Aluminium Window Frames Age?
- How Often Should Aluminium Windows and Door Frames Be Cleaned?
- A Few Tips and Tricks Before You Begin
- Things You Will need
- Safety Tips Whilst Cleaning Windows
- DIY Methods for Cleaning Aluminium Window Frames
- Method 1: White Vinegar and Water
- Method 2: Commercial Aluminium Cleaner
- Method 3: Citrus-Based Commercial Cleaner
- Method 4: Solvent-Based Commercial Cleaner
- Method 5: Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
- Method 6: Steel Wool and Paint Thinner
- Method 7: Soap and Water
- Method 8: Denatured Alcohol or Xylene
- Method 9: Aluminium Resin
- How To Clean Aluminium Window Frames Like A Pro
- Professional Window Cleaning
- How to Clean Other Types of Windows
- Which Type of Window Frame is The Best?
- What Things Do I Need to Consider When Choosing the Window Frames?
- How Do You Want Your Windows to Open?
- Open-Out Windows
- The Sash
- Tilting and Turning Windows
- Fixed Windows
- Top-Swing Windows
Types of Window Frames
We have gathered for you a little guideline to help you choose the right one.
Wooden Window Frames
This option is environment friendly, plus gives your windows a more natural look. There are mainly two types to choose from, softwood and hardwood, although you may find many variations in the designs in both of these options.
Hardwood is the costlier out of the two and is more long-lasting and low maintenance than the other one, but if you’re looking for a more affordable option, then softwood is your best bet as the price for which is 4 times less than that of the hardwood.
Wooden window frames are a good option but they require maintenance, for example, dampness can easily seep through them if painting or repainting is left for too long.
Composite Window Frames
This type of window frames has been used for a long time in more cold and harsh climates such as Canada, however they are much newer in the UK. Although new, this type of window frames has become quite popular and a lot of commercial buildings are considering this option due to it being cost-effective in terms of its weatherproof ability.
Composite window frames work like a capping of metal such as aluminium on the exterior while looking like a wooden frame internally. That means your window frames will be protected from harsh weathers, water and dampness and will require low maintenance while still looking visually appealing. This is ideal for commercial buildings on coastal areas or areas of frequent heavy rainfalls. This option is quite expensive however, due to additional work involved.
GRP Window Frames
Another type of window frame is GRP window frames, although this variety is not very common in the UK. This is made of fibreglass and has many properties of metal window frames.
uPVC or Plastic Window Frames
although plastic window frames option had been popular for domestic buildings for a while, it has become quite prevalent in the commercial buildings too and it is not surprising why. This is the cheapest option in window frames while being durable and easy to maintain.
However, you must take care while purchasing uPVC window frames and not go for very cheap options as the UPVC can break easily and it is not very convenient to repair.
Aluminium Window Frames
Commercial aluminium windows are the most useful option for most commercial buildings. These are used for schools, hotels, offices, leisure centres, hospitals and even retail shops. Fitting an aluminium window frame is a wise decision for several reasons, which we’ll talk about shortly.
Metal or aluminium window frames are becoming more popular every year. Most people like it for their design and visually appealing styles, as well as being practical and durable in all sorts of weathers. The best part is it can be fashioned into any shape or size, including thin frames. They are easy to maintain and long-lasting option as well as not very expensive, making them a popular choice for many.
Reasons Why Choosing Aluminium Window Frames is a Good Choice
Aluminium window frames are the best choice for commercial buildings, as they are:
- They’re easy to maintain. The low maintenance feature makes them more suitable for commercial purposes where day to day regular cleaning is either not possible or desirable.
- They have good resistance for rust; aluminium window frames do not get rusted easily as aluminium is highly rust, rot and corrosion-resistant metal.
- They look as good as new for many years. Which means they are long-lasting and durable.
- They come built-in with a protective coating which prevents rust and corrosion for a long time.
- They are available in different styles, so you have many options available to choose from.
With time, however, like any other metal, aluminium window frames also get rusted or oxidation occurs on the surface. When this happens, it is hard to remove the stains from the window frames and proper cleaning needs to be done.
How Does Aluminium Window Frames Age?
The window makers coat the aluminium window frames with a protective layer to protect the window from direct exposure to air, sunlight, cleaning chemicals, salt and, water. However, with time, they can still get rusted or discoloured. It is also important to note that not all aluminium frames have a protective coating.
Rust on aluminium windows may occur in the form of greyish-brown substance or white powdery spots. The white powdery spots are mainly a chemical released from the aluminium to protect the metal from further oxidation. Although this white powdery substance is there to protect the metal, it looks unappealing and unclean.
Apart from rust and oxidation, dirt and debris also cause discolouration in aluminium over time and it loses its shine. Therefore, it is important to keep the aluminium window frames clean from inside and outside. Several methods can be used to clean the aluminium windows with the help of commercial cleaners or DIY homemade cleaners.
To avoid your aluminium window frames looking dirty and dull, many different cleaning methods can be applied. You will have to know your window frames type to give them the right kind of treatment. If your window frames have started to anodise, you will require a different treatment for them. Anodising is a process of iron rusting, meaning oxidation has started to occur on your aluminium surface, and this is making them look dull and very hard to polish. The anodised window frames require a uPVC treatment or other suitable cleaning methods.
Cleaning aluminium window frames takes a lot of time, but with the right cleaning products and some perseverance, you will get the results you want and it will be worth your time. In this guide, we have covered different cleaning methods that will make your aluminium window frames as good as new. These methods can also be applied to aluminium doors and door frames.
How Often Should Aluminium Windows and Door Frames Be Cleaned?
There are simple tips and guidelines to tell us when it’s time to clean the aluminium windows and door frames. Here are a few easy tips:
- Aluminium frames must be cleaned every few months to avoid any debris or oxidation to discolour them.
- Start at the top and work your way down when cleaning your aluminium window frames. This way, it will be a lot easier and quicker to clean the frames.
- The best time to clean the aluminium frames is during the spring months. This is because the weather is nice and sunny and it’s easier to work on metal surfaces.
A Few Tips and Tricks Before You Begin
- Aluminium window and door frames must be cleaned from inside as well as outside.
- As with any cleaning, window cleaning must also be started at the top, making your way downwards. This way, if any dirt or debris falls, it won’t fall on the areas you have just finished cleaning.
- Test your cleaning product, commercial as well as a homemade cleaner, on a small hidden part first before you apply it to the whole frame. It is advisable to test it on a small part that is out of sight and wait for any reaction such as discolouration.
- When using a detergent, make sure it is non-alkaline and have a PH level 7 or less, or you’ll risk damaging your aluminium.
- If this happens, then do not use the method for the rest of the aluminium window frame and switch to another method. Or, read the instructions again carefully and make sure you have taken the right proportion of the products and followed all steps in the right order.
- Proper usage instructions must be followed when using commercial products or when you are making your cleaning products.
- It is important to dry and wipe your window frames with a cloth or rag, do not leave them to dry on their own as it will leave streaks on the surface.
Things You Will Need
You will need some cleaning supplies to aid your cleaning job. Some of the recommended things are:
- Rag or cloth
- Lint-free wipes, that do not scratch the surface
- Washing up liquid
Safety Tips Whilst Cleaning the Windows
The most important thing to keep in mind while cleaning the windows is the health and safety considerations. Nothing should come before you own safety, which is why all safety measures must be taken into account before you begin cleaning the windows.
- Do not try cleaning the windows on a rainy, windy or a very hot day.
- You must have at least one other person with you to help you for passing the tools or other equipment, especially if you are working at height.
- A stable ladder is a must when working at height.
- Do not carry things in your hand while climbing up and down the ladder.
DIY Methods For Cleaning Aluminium Window Frames
Here are some DIY methods for cleaning the aluminium window frames that can be used for commercial as well as domestic frames.
Method 1: White Vinegar and Water
Use a dry cleaning brush and clean any dirt or dust from the window frames. In a bucket, mix water and white vinegar in equal proportion. Next, dip the brush in the bucket and scrub it on the window frames.
Repeat the process until all the oxidation has gone. If some of the oxidation remains, use a stainless-steel wire or brush to scrub it off. Rinse the frames with water and dry them with a drying cloth.
Method 2: Commercial Aluminium Cleaner
Use a nylon brush to clean off the window frames. Spray a generous amount of commercial aluminium oxidation cleaner on a rag cloth, scrub the aluminium window frame with the rag until the oxidation is gone. Rinse off the window frame with water and dry it with a dry rag.
Method 3: Citrus-Based Commercial Cleaner
Similarly to the above, use a brush to clean the dirt off the aluminium window frames. Next, wet the frames thoroughly with water. Use any citrus-based commercial cleaning product on the window frames. Scrub it until the oxidation has gone completely. Rinse it off with plain water and dry with a clean and dry cloth.
Method 4: Solvent-Based Commercial Cleaner
This method is effective for removing grease stains from aluminium window frames. You will need a solvent-based commercial cleaner. You can buy one online or from a local hardware shop. Before you apply it on the surface, read the instructions carefully and make sure it is safe to use on aluminium.
Many cleaners work best when they are allowed to sit on the surface for a while before they are wiped off. Once it has set in, make sure to rinse it off properly so that no cleaner remains on the aluminium surface. Take care and follow all safety instructions while using strong commercial cleaners. Remember, you may also need gloves and goggles.
Method 5: Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
Make a paste with baking soda and lemon juice with half a cup of lemon juice and a quarter cup of baking soda, approximately 45g. Both of these ingredients are easily available and can do wonders for cleaning dirt and grime off aluminium surfaces, making them shiny clean. This method works best when you have applied a commercial aluminium cleaner to the window frames. Scrub the lemon juice and baking soda paste on the frames with the help of a sponge or rag.
Let the paste dry on the surface completely. The time it takes to dry is also weather depended, so it’s advisable to do it on a dry and warm day to speed up the drying process. Do not leave any cracks or gaps, and thoroughly cover the whole area with the paste. To get to the hard to clean areas, use a scrubbing brush.
When that’s done, use a damp sponge to remove the dried paste. Keep rinsing until the sponge runs clean and there is no sign of commercial cleaner or the paste. In the end, you can use steel wool and water to give shine to your aluminium window frames.
Method 6: Steel Wool and Paint Thinner
If there are any hard to remove stains on the window frames, steel wool and paint thinner can be used to clean them. Again, make sure to read all safety instructions before using the paint thinner. Apply the paint thinner on the steel wool and then apply it to the affected areas, scrub until the stains come off. Be careful so as not to scrub the polish off the aluminium surface. A ball of steel wool that comes with built-in soap will be more effective.
Method 7: Soap and Water
One of the easiest ways to clean the aluminium windows is using soap and water. This is a more useful technique for the outside window frames. Firstly, wet the window frames thoroughly using a garden hose or bucket. Next, take a bucket of warm water and add a substantial amount of washing up liquid or washing powder (PH 7 or less) in it.
Apply this soapy water on the window frames with the help of a nylon brush and scrub on the surfaces. Afterwards, rinse all the frames with plain water again. Wipe them dry with a cloth.
Method 8: Denatured Alcohol or Xylene
This method works more effectively when the aluminium window frames have been highly oxidised. Use a scratch-free cloth to clean the window frames then wash them thoroughly with water. Let them dry and then wipe with denatured alcohol or a cleaning agent such as xylene. You can apply a protective coating afterwards and use a lint-free cloth to wipe it.
Method 9: Aluminium Resin
Minor scratches can be corrected with an aluminium corrector or resin. It protects the aluminium frames from further damage. You will only need to apply a thin layer to the damaged area. These are manufactured by window makers and are available commercially. A scratch-free window looks cleaner as scratches make the surface look old and unclean even if it has been cleaned recently.
How To Clean Aluminium Window Frames Like A Pro
Now that you know about a few DIY cleaning solutions, that you can easily buy or make, it’s time to get started on your aluminium window frames cleaning spree.
The following steps will help you get the best results:
- To clean the outside frames, use a hose or bucket of water to get rid of all the dirt and grime before you begin cleaning the frames.
- For inside, use a wet rag and gently wipe down the frames to clean anything stuck on them.
- Now use any of the cleaning methods you prefer according to your need or preference.
- After the clean, you will need a final scrubbing down of the surfaces to remove any leftover debris or stains.
- Clean all the surfaces, including the aluminium window frames, metal, joints, grooves and even glass windows.
- This step is more important for sliding windows as grime can affect their ability to slide-through easily. Although all windows must be kept clean. Especially, if you are taking so much effort to clean the aluminium frames, the other parts of the windows must be cleaned too so that it gives a nice and new look.
The final scrub down also tells you if there are any damages in the window and you can do the damage repair before it gets worse.
If you are using a squeegee, use it in a top to down vertical motion.
Then, use a dry cloth to give your window frames one last buff to make them shiny clean and will give a nice finish.
Afterwards, you can apply any lubricant to the windows so they can open and close easily. Also, it works great for the long life of hinges and grooves. Make sure the hinges and locking systems are completely dry before you apply any lubricant to ensure they work exactly as should be.
Steel wool and water can do wonders to bring back shine to your aluminium window frames. At this stage, you can apply this process to restore the shine and colour of the frames.
If the aluminium frames still appear dull, you can use polish to make them shine like new.
Or, the other alternative is painting. If you do not want to polish the window frames, you can paint them too. Painting the window frames will give them a new look, without spending a big amount of money on replacing them. There is a large variety of aluminium window frame colours available commercially.
If you are planning to paint the window frames, it is important to use a primer so that the paint sticks to the surface easily.
Professional Window Cleaning
If your aluminium window frames are highly oxidised and none of the above treatments have been successful, it may be time to hire the services of professional window cleaners. Professional cleaners have the right tools and equipment to do your job effectively. They have cleaning agents that will make any old and rusty windows look sparkly like new, without harming the metal.
Professional window cleaners have professional staff and different packages to suit your needs. Often, they are happy to do additional services for an extra cost. For example, they can clean the whole windows rather than just the frames, plus doors and window sills as it is more cost-effective to do the whole job once they are there rather than coming in separately for each job.
You will need the help of professional window cleaners when your commercial building is multi-storey and it is not possible for the members of the staff to clean them on their own. The professional cleaners have large ladders and other safety tools with which they can clean the top floor window frames easily.
Professional cleaners know their job so they will clean your window frames properly, without damaging them. They have the right type of cleaning liquids and detergents that will give you the perfect results you have been looking for. So, if you are unable to clean the windows yourself or if you simply do not have the time, sometimes it is just best to let the professionals handle the job.
How to Clean Other Types of Windows
Now that we have discussed how to clean aluminium window frames, let’s see how we can clean wooden and uPVC/plastic windows.
uPVC Window Frames Cleaning
Plastic window frames are easy to clean and maintain. You can easily clean them off with soapy water.
- Take a bucket of soapy water and wipe down the window frames. Next, clean them dry with a towel or rag.
- If you do not wish to use soap, make a mixture of vinegar and water with 3 parts of vinegar to 7 parts of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray on the surface. Leave it for a while then wipe it off with a clean cloth.
Wooden Window Frames Cleaning
Wooden window frames can easily get mouldy. When this happens, the window frames look unsightly and will not have a long life if not treated in time.
To clean the wooden window frames that are mouldy, you can buy any commercial mould cleaner and apply it on the surface following the instructions on the label. Your wooden frames will be good as new if done correctly!
If the wooden window frames are not mouldy and they just need a good clean, you can follow these steps:
- First, wipe away all the dust and dirt from the window frames. You can use a lint-free rag for this purpose. If you wish, add a little bit of wood wax on the rag before you apply it on the surface.
- For polished wooden frames, you can clean them off with a mixture of soap and water.
- To keep them clean and to maintain durability, follow manufacturer’s instructions, which might mean using some sort of sealer or preservative once a year.
Which Type of Window Frame is The Best?
All window frame types have some advantages and some disadvantages. The type of window frame you choose must be based on many factors, such as the type of building, weather conditions, how often you can get them cleaned etc. Once you have carefully thought over those areas, you can pick a type of window frames that best suits your requirements. Thus, the best type of window frame is the one that meets your needs.
We have shared with you some advantages and downsides of each type of window frames so that it will help you to make a sensible decision.
Wooden Window Frames
They have been there the longest, long before any other variety was made available. It is more expensive than plastic frames, although if maintained properly will last longer than uPVC frames. It might not be the best choice for big commercial buildings where cleaning and housekeeping are not very easy.
uPVC Window Frames
They are cheaper and easy to maintain. They have very good thermal performance and can resist any weather, and they’re the most popular option for double glazing windows. However, they are easy to go off-colour and hard to repair.
It might be a good option for commercial buildings however, discolouration may occur which makes the windows look unsightly. Also, they are not environment friendly and hard to recycle. This might be a good option for domestic purposes where maintenance is easier and high thermal performance means, cost-saving on heating and energy.
They are long-lasting and durable. They are easy to maintain and do not require cleaning very frequently. Although, the downside is corrosion and rust can occur over time. This can be overcome, however, with good cleaning and maintenance. The thermal performance is lower compared to uPVC.
The aluminium frames are recyclable and can be repaired easily too, so if any damage occurs you might not have to replace the whole frame. It is a good choice for commercial buildings and is the most popular option for most commercial buildings in the UK.
What Things Do I Need to Consider When Choosing the Window Frames?
Once you have decided which type of window frames you need, there are other factors that you will need to consider before making the final purchase such as the cost, insulation and design etc. Although you may want to save the cost, the windows that have most of the good properties will work out more cost-effective in the long run and they will require low maintenance. This is because the high-quality window frames will resist the drop in temperature in very cold weather conditions. Light quality material is likely to shrink in harsh weather and this is why the air seeps through the gaps, making the inside temperature lower.
High-quality window frames of any type are better at keeping the air from getting in through the gaps and thus keeping the inside temperature according to your preference. Apart from the frames, the type of glass panels you choose also determines the flow of air from inside and outside. For example, you can choose one, two or, three glass panels. Or, you can choose to have a coating on them which keeps the heat inside in the winters and outside in the summers.
Most windows have a sticker on them to tell us about their thermal performance. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to make some informed decisions about your windows. Some of the things you will see on a window are:
R-Value: The higher the R-value the better. R-value tells us how capable a window is to keep the desired temperature inside and keep the undesirable air outside.
U-Value: As opposed to the R-value, the lower the u-value is the better. U-value tells us about the window’s ability to transfer the heat from inside or outside, so the less u-value the better.
Air Leakage: Also called wind resistance. There might be 2 numbers on the window. The lower the numbers are the better, as it indicates the window seal is good and there is minimal air leakage.
SHGC: Solar Heat Gain Coefficient tells us about the window’s ability to keep the outside heat in when the weather is sunny and hot. It is a good thing in cold weather as the solar heat will keep the room warm, saving on the cost of heating. However, in the hot weather, this may increase the cost of air-conditioning.
The window specifications that you will need depends on the region you work in. For example, in the northern region where the weather is much colder, the preference is to keep the cold air outside while in the south, when it gets really hot in summers, the preference is to keep the outside hot air out. Our window dealer or manufacturer would be able to guide you on what type of specifications would work best for your region as well as for your needs.
How Do You Want Your Windows to Open?
Apart from colour, design, type and, performance, you will also need to decide on how would you like your windows to open. There are different styles available according to opening and closing of windows. The style you choose depends on your personal preference, the space you have and the purpose of the building.
This is the classic window style that opens like a door on one side of the window frame. They come in different standard sizes and are the most economical option. They have hinges or brake mechanism, to avoid damaging the windows during windy weather.
This window style opens halfway from the bottom and the opening frames moves upward.
Tilting and Turning Windows
This is the German style of windows and is the most popular one there. Although not very common in the UK, this style has many advantages. You can tilt the top of the window frame open, while the bottom end is still fixed to let the fresh air in. Or you can turn the window open, like the open-out style which is a requirement in the case of fire. In this case, however, the window opens inside not outside.
As the name suggests, this style of window does not open and remains fixed. They are the most economical option as there is less work required to build them, however they might not be the most practical option when you require ventilation.
The window opens halfway from the bottom frame. This can be made either opening inside or outside, depending on the need. This type of window style is wider than taller.
Although not a separate window style, a trickle vent in can be installed in any type of window frame. It allows ventilation in the room so that fresh air can come in. As more concentration has been paid on keeping the energy cost lower by having insulated and thermally efficient windows in recent years, another important aspect has been neglected, that is ventilation.
Although you would want to keep heating costs lower by having the most efficient windows, it is important to ventilate the room to avoid dampness and staleness of the inside air. The trickle-vent can be opened and closed easily.