Railing Materials: Aluminum Compared With Four Other Common Options

There are many different railing material options out there, and each options offers its own unique characteristics and advantages. Aluminum is one of the most common railing options for a wide variety of applications like deck, porch, and balcony railings. If you're considering aluminum as a railing material and you're wondering how aluminum compares with some other common options, consider the following:

Aluminum compared with PVC

Both aluminum and PVC railings are lightweight and allow for an easy installation. The ease of installation for PVC might even be greater because PVC rails are generally completely pre-assembled. PVC rails also offer the advantage of deflecting heat very effectively in comparison to aluminum, making them perhaps a better choice in very hot climates. 

One big advantage aluminum enjoys over PVC is the fact that it is stronger and more durable. In fact, typical PVC rails are constructed with some aluminum inserts inside them for reinforcement because a purely PVC railing would be too weak to stand up to structural demands.

Aluminum compared with wood

Wood is a durable material that offers a natural grain that enhances appearances. However, as a railing material, wood also has the huge disadvantage of being subject to rot.

On the same token, wood has the advantage over aluminum that it is not subject to rust over the years. This makes it so that both aluminum and wood have a weakness when it comes to resisting damage caused by moisture. 

Powder-coated aluminum is typically better able to retain its color than wood, which will need to be repainted eventually as paint begins to chip off due to weathering.   

Aluminum compared with steel

A powder-coated aluminum rail will typically maintain its color longer than a steel rail. Steel railings may need to be repainted once in a while as the paint on them will chip off over time.

Steel is much heavier than aluminum. While this makes it more durable and structurally secure, it also makes it so that steel is more difficult and labor-intensive to install. Aluminum railings can be easily cut to size with a miter saw, but steel requires a more heavy duty tool such as a cutting torch. 

Aluminum compared with vinyl

Exposure to UV rays can cause the color of vinyl to fade over the long term, and this is one disadvantage that vinyl has in comparison to aluminum. Aluminum is definitely a better choice for a railing material if the railing is placed on a deck or balcony area where it will be frequently exposed to bright sunlight. 

For more information on railings, contact a company like ABCO Waterproofing & Sundecks