Light weight aluminum has properties which make it a great choice for most applications: corrosion level of resistance, high power, low weight amongst others. Painted light weight aluminum railings are more advanced than other materials including PVC, given that they have practically no maintenance costs and can certainly outlive the framework these are installed on.
Think about the places where you understand aluminum can be used, places where toughness and power are important… airplane, space shuttle, vehicle trailer physiques, store fronts, skyscraper wall structure systems etc .. Now want to yourself… would you utilize a plastic, timber or composite materials for any of these applications? The answer is a resounding NO .
Low maintenance- light weight aluminum railing doesn’t need to be painted each year unlike wrought iron and wood. The light weight aluminum channels, known as “extrusions”, receive a chemical clean so the color will connection. The color is cooked on at over 400 levels Fahrenheit. Properly covered light weight aluminum extrusions can last a long time with only regular cleaning required. The wonder of light weight aluminum is that even if the color is scratched to the bottom metal, the light weight aluminum won’t corrode generally in most conditions. Actually, unpainted light weight aluminum forms an invisible oxide on its surface that prevents corrosion.
Safety – From a structural point of view, aluminum railing will not rot or decay like wood, it won’t rust away in the critical joints like steel or wrought iron and it won’t crack in the cold like PVC. Another safety concern with wood railing is splinters, which is an even greater concern when you consider the chemicals used in pressure treated lumber.
Esthetics- The designer of an aluminum railing system has a great deal of flexibility in the way he or she wants it to look. Once the dies are created, the aluminum shapes will be produced for years with unwavering tolerance. Wood and wrought iron railings are limited to the availability of stock shapes. The wood you buy today will shrink, warp and twist over the years. Because PVC is not a structurally sound product, those railings will have steel stiffeners hidden inside, and all connection points need to allow for the expansion /contraction of the PVC extrusions. PVC and wood railings will always have a bulky appearance, vinyl’s inherit weakness mandates large shapes. With aluminum, the designer can create fine shapes akin to wrought iron, or wider shapes similar to wood. The consumer can create, mix & match to their heart’s content. Of course, the durability of aluminum means it will be looking good and fulfilling it’s function long after the other materials would have begun to show their age.
Recyclable- Aluminum is completely recyclable. It is one of the most recycled products in the world. It’s high scrap value means that factory cut-offs, job site left overs and demolition railings are carefully saved for sale to scrap yards. With almost no value, wood, PVC, steel and composites are destined for the dump.
Corrosion Resistance – Rusting of steel railing is an obvious point, and covered elsewhere in this article. Even when steel is galvanized, the ends, weld and drill locations are doomed to rust. With time, even galvanized steel will begin to rust. Also, it is difficult for paint to stick to galvanized steel, and you may find your paint peeling off in the not too distant future. Vinyl railing and fencing products will typically use galvanized steel inserts, but the cut ends are at risk for rusting. Rust is not only unsightly, but slowly reduces the strength of the guard. As already mentioned, aluminum will not corrode in most environments.
Effect of Weather – UV rays of the sun break down wood and PVC based products. This process is known as photodegradation. Although PVC products have additives (UV stabilizers) to resist the damaging effects of the sun, we have all seen what happens to plastic as it ages, especially when it is exposed to the outdoors. Thanks to global warming, ozone and chemical related damage will increase for plastic based products. Heat and humidity can compound the UV damage on plastic products. For wood, once the UV has caused sufficient photodamage, heat and humidity will allow microorganisms to flourish and biodegrade the wood. While UV eventually causes any paint to fade, the aluminum underneath is unaffected by weather. Your aluminum hand rail will never loose it’s structural integrity, in fact, aluminum gets stronger with age.