Are aluminium windows load bearing?

When installing new aluminium doors and windows, there are a few important things to consider, especially if you need to remove older windows before installing your new ones. One of these considerations is whether or not your existing windows are load bearing or not, as this has the potential to significantly affect the whole installation process – not to mention the price as well. So if you’re considering a window upgrade, you may be wondering – are aluminium windows actually load bearing, and do they have the strength to support surrounding building structures without any additional support surrounding them?

Aluminium windows are not load bearing

Aluminium windows are not actually load bearing, meaning that when they’re installed, generally a special type of timber frame on the inside is installed first, which carries the weight of the surrounding wall. In the case of windows which reach quite high up the wall, this structure will support the ceiling as well, and isn’t visible once installation is complete.

Internal hidden timber frame around a window. Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/9VWeUt

Internal hidden timber frame around a window. Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/9VWeUt

What about other types of windows, such as timber or uPVC?

It may not surprise anyone to learn that uPVC windows are not strong enough to bear the load of walls and ceilings. However, some older existing timber windows do have load-bearing capabilities. Even still, timber windows will often have a lintel along the top of the window, to help support the wall and structure above it.

Timber lintel

Timber lintel – Image credit

How to replace existing load bearing windows with aluminium windows?

If an existing window in a home is a load bearing one, special steps need to be taken in order to minimise the risk of that part of the wall collapsing while the window is being removed to be replaced. The process usually involves:

  • Supporting the roof while replacing the window. This is usually done with a temporary support frame. The support frame is wedged between the ceiling and the floor to stop the ceiling sagging (or worse, collapsing) when the window is removed.
  • Inserting a lintel as a permanent hidden structure inside the wall. This will bear the weight of the wall and ceiling above the window.

These are all steps that your professional window installer will be familiar with if they are experienced with installing aluminium windows.

One more thing to keep in mind is if a window that is being replaced is load bearing, then extra costs may be involved for the additional time, labour and materials needed during installation. However, your professional installer will assess the existing window first, and you would be informed if any extra costs are required before any work commences.

For more info on load transfers around windows and doors, check out this helpful video. Or, if you’re unsure about what extra work might be required to replace the windows at your home, please feel free to get in touch with the experts at BetaView or call 9623 5611.