Which is better, Aluminium or steel? It is a fairly common debate now in construction, engineering and design. Improved aluminium alloys are emerging as the materials of the foreseeable future in manufacturing. Whatever choice you give preference to, there are a few things you need to consider before you make your decision.
We have compared aluminium and steel patio-covers and awnings on aesthetics, ability to customise, lifespan, ease of maintenance, sustainability and cost. Read on for the definitive guide to your canopy choice!
First impressions are highly influenced by the aesthetics of a facility. High-quality Aluminium sunshade canopies and awnings offer a sleek, modern appearance to outfit buildings with functional beauty. When choosing your canopy materials, you want something that will be pleasing to the eye and fit the architectural theme of the building. Luckily, Aluminium is versatile and can be formed to create a unique grand entrance.
Both steel and Aluminium can be manufactured custom-built and in prefabricated canopy designs. A prefabricated design allows cost-effective customisation to your needs; while a customised option is more expensive but exactly fits your design. We generally recommend a prefabricated, or modular canopy – its customisation abilities are almost as unlimited as customised, but as it uses standard components it is a lot more cost-effective.
Steel has been touted for its strength and durability; but, for maximum effectiveness it must be galvanised, then powder coated or painted as it rusts when it is exposed to air. Aluminium alloys make up a protective layer of aluminium oxide on their exposed surfaces, so the canopy lasts a lot longer, and galvanising and powder coating are not really necessary.
Nearly every structure in the commercial building industry contains steel in some form – a testament to its longevity and reliability. But that does not mean you should exclude aluminium. According to an article in The Aluminium Association almost all the aluminium ever produced is still in use today, even going back to the 1920s when it was first used as a building material. The same article points up that a lot of steel-and-concrete infrastructure from a later period has now deteriorated to the point it needs replacing. Aluminium canopies are often guaranteed for 25 years, and they are designed and built to last a lot longer.
Since steel is so heavy, a steel canopy or awning at your facility can be hard to maintain. If you need to move or relocate your canopy, it will be challenging and time-consuming to manage the heavy steel material.
Lightweight Aluminium is the ideal choice for a canopy you need to take down occasionally for maintenance or move to a storage location during the offseason. Aluminium is resistant to rust and easy to clean for a convenient, reliable canopy solution. The maintenance costs for a steel canopy far exceed those of an aluminium one.
Experts believe that more steel is recycled every year than aluminium, plastic, glass and all other commonly recycled materials put together. However, recycling steel is a complex and difficult process that requires a lot of energy and resources. Aluminium, however, is much easier to recycle and treads much more lightly on the planet. It has been called ‘one of the most energy efficient and sustainable building materials’ – an aluminium canopy is 100% recyclable.
There is no denying that steel is a cheaper option than aluminium. But before you value-engineer your canopy, consider that the weight of the steel canopy will require bigger foundations; more posts to carry its weight; and regular maintenance to keep it looking good. Canopies manufactured from aluminium alloy do not rust, so little maintenance is needed. They are more lightweight than steel, so smaller foundations are required; and they can carry up to 7m spans between posts. Consider the hidden costs before you make that decision.
Aluminium is becoming a serious contender against steel in the construction industry. Its lightweight structure, low maintenance and easy-to-work with properties are gaining positive publicity as more and more people recognise the benefits of using aluminium in their buildings. Before you go with what you have always done, consider the benefits of using a durable, sustainable and low-maintenance material could have for the aesthetics, lifespan and carbon footprint of your building.
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5 Stars Trading’s Aluminium Canopy Structures are fully welded for superior construction and shipped pre-assembled for fast and simple installation. At 5 Stars Trading, we save time and cost on projects of all types and sizes. At 5 Stars Trading, you are in business immediately with the No. 1 Aluminium Canopy supplier of both Residential and commercial shade structures. Please give us a call on 0330 1071818. You can also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter!