For the purpose of this article, I’m going to compare aluminum versus steel railing, as for many homeowners, or contractors the choice comes down to aluminum or steel.
Aluminum is less dense than steel
The lightness of aluminum makes it easier for installers to carry and install safely. It also causes less structural strain on your building, when you multiply the weight of all the pieces together. Being lightweight, when there is heavy wind, less force is applied to anchor points. This means in stormy situations, it will hold its structural integrity better than steel.
Aluminum railing is much less likely to rust, and in the extremely rare case it does rust, it never spreads the way it does with steel railing.
Heat and Cold Resistance
Being from the prairies, I know how intensely temperatures can fluctuate. Not only does that wreak havoc on our streets, but also our homes. When temperatures dip, steel becomes brittle while aluminum actually gets stronger. It also disperses heat much more quickly and efficiently than steel, making it ideal in less temperate climates. This means that after a hot sunny day, while steel may burn to touch, aluminum will only be slightly warm.
Although often steel is slightly better priced, when you include all the factors such as structural damage to your property, time to install (because of weight), and resistance to the elements, aluminum might save you more in the long run.