Aluminum Blinds Vs. Vinyl Blinds: Which Is Better?

When it comes to window coverings, aluminum and vinyl blinds offer numerous advantages. These include privacy, light blocking, energy efficiency, durability, and custom styling. And thanks to their affordability, aluminum and vinyl are two of the most popular window covering options on the market.

It might be hard to decide between aluminum or vinyl because, at first glance, they seem almost identical. Manufacturers offer horizontal options in both materials in a variety of slat sizes, typically ranging from 1/2-inch mini blinds to 2-inch standard blinds. Vertical blinds, mounted on a track, are also available, most commonly seen on patio doors and windows. They come in various colors and textures, allowing you to choose the one that best matches your room's aesthetic. But they have some key differences. One is stronger than the other, making it less likely to break. But the other is more flexible, making it less likely to dent. One is also easier to clean, making chore day more of a breeze. Depending on your lifestyle, one might be a better fit for your home than the other. Here are some of the key differences between aluminum and vinyl blinds. 

Which is more durable?

Both aluminum and vinyl blinds are durable window covering options. Both materials resist moisture, making either blind a suitable choice for kitchens and bathrooms. However, aluminum blinds exhibit greater durability than vinyl ones. Aluminum is sturdier to the touch. While vinyl won't dent and crease like aluminum, the slats tend to easily snap off if you're not careful. Aluminum does not chip, split, and break as easily. Additionally, aluminum blinds are easier to repair when the need arises. Most people simply throw out their vinyl blinds and replace them with new ones when a slat breaks off.

Aluminum blinds are generally available in 6-gauge and 8-gauge thicknesses. The 8-gauge is thicker, meaning it's less likely to dent. Investing in the thicker option is best if you have kids or pets who could dent your blinds with curious hands or paws. 

Which has better light-blocking ability?

For many homeowners, the ability to block light is a major consideration when shopping for window blinds. In media rooms, nurseries, and the bedrooms of adults who work the night shift, light-blocking blinds are essential to keep the rooms dark during the day. Vinyl blinds offer greater light-blocking ability than aluminum blinds. Aluminum tends to be a somewhat transparent material, allowing more light to enter the room. Additionally, you might see shadows or silhouettes when you're looking from the outside into the house. By contrast, vinyl blinds present a more opaque quality. This makes them a better choice for blocking sunlight during the day, though you still need to pair them with curtains if you want to blackout the room completely.

To block out 100% of the light coming into the room, you will need to specifically choose blackout blinds, which are only available in vinyl and not aluminum. Vinyl Roman window shades are popular for this purpose, since they don't have slats that create gaps for light to sneak through.

Which is easier to clean?

Vinyl and aluminum blinds share qualities that make them easy to clean, and identical cleaning methods apply to both types. Neither material is susceptible to rust or water damage. However, aluminum blinds are slightly harder to clean for two reasons. First, they might have sharp edges, so you should exercise extra care when cleaning and handling them. Second, they bend and crease much easier, meaning you have to wipe or vacuum them carefully in order not to dent them.

For both vinyl and aluminum blinds, regular dusting with a microfiber cloth prevents dust and dirt build-up. Wiping with a damp (not wet) cloth soaked in mild detergent and water effectively removes light dust. For more heavily soiled blinds, you can remove the entire unit and wash them in a bathtub or take them to an outdoor area where a garden hose is available for rinsing. Hang the blinds on a clothesline to dry.

Which is more affordable?

In general, aluminum blinds are more expensive than vinyl blinds. However, both of these materials cost less than real wood blinds. If you're on a strict budget, vinyl blinds may be your best option. The exception to this general rule would be the vinyl blinds that are textured and colored to resemble wood. Faux wood blinds cost more than aluminum blinds, and they're always made of vinyl. In fact, some manufacturers offer textured vinyl blinds that resemble leather or textile fabrics, and they tend to cost more than the plain options. Aluminum material does not lend itself to the type of texturizing that creates the look of wood grain or other materials.

For both aluminum and vinyl blinds, the size of the slats affects the cost. Mini blinds cost less than those with standard 2-inch slats. Both aluminum and vinyl blinds are available in a huge variety of colors, and in some cases, premium colors may cost more. But if you're choosing between standard aluminum and vinyl shades, the vinyl option will be the most affordable.

Which is more energy efficient?

Window blinds aid in the energy efficiency of cooling systems during the hot summer months. However, aluminum blinds are more energy efficient than vinyl blinds during the heat of summer. Aluminum reflects heat from the sun, whereas vinyl absorbs it. With aluminum blinds, your electrical bills may be lower in the summer due to the minimized strain on your HVAC system as it cools your home. If you don't want to break the bank outfitting your entire house with aluminum shades, you can cover only big or south-facing windows. This will get the most bang for your buck in heat blocking.

Whether you use aluminum or vinyl window blinds, the Department of Energy recommends strategic positioning of the slats to maximize energy efficiency. On sunny winter days, open the blinds in the morning to introduce sunlight to your interior space. In the summer, reverse the procedure by closing the blinds during the day to block solar heat from your home.

Which gets less sun damage?

Vinyl blinds are more prone to damage from sun exposure than aluminum blinds. Therefore, aluminum may be your best choice for sunny windows and hot weather conditions. Depending on their location in your home, some windows receive direct sunlight during the afternoon when the sun's rays are at their peak. Especially in warm climates and during the summer months, the heat and UV rays can cause significant damage to your window treatments.

With sun exposure, the outer sides of vinyl slats may fade and take on a yellowish color. Additionally, vinyl blinds absorb heat, making them less efficient in sunny windows. This heat absorption causes the vinyl blinds to warp. When this happens, the blinds should be replaced. By contrast, aluminum blinds reflect heat rather than absorb it. This means they're less likely to warp. As an added advantage, aluminum blinds do not fade and turn yellow as vinyl blinds do.

The best blinds for your home are those that meet your needs, complement your decor, and fit within your budget. Based on several criteria, we've compared aluminum and vinyl blinds. Aluminum blinds appear to be more durable, more energy efficient, and more resistant to sun damage. Alternatively, vinyl blinds are cheaper, provide more light-blocking ability, and may be safer to handle when cleaning.