Aluminum Railing vs. Galvanized Steel Railing

Metal railing along a riverway

Aluminum and galvanized steel are both good choices for metal railing. The four main differences are their weight, strength, corrosive resistance, and aesthetics.

For the sake of this article, we won’t be talking about aesthetics as that will be a personal choice.

Let’s go over the other three so you can know which option is better for your project.

Is Aluminum Lighter than Steel?

Yes. It should come as no surprise that aluminum is lighter than galvanized steel. This is true when comparing the same volume of the two metals.

There are a few reasons that this may matter to you.

Aluminum being lighter means that shipping costs are cheaper. This could be the difference between using ground shipping or a freight carrier.

Another thing to consider is how you will be transporting the material on your job site. Using aluminum is easier if you have to carry the material up multiple flights of stairs.

At the end of the day, the value of aluminum being lighter is that it is much easier to handle and ship.

Is Aluminum or Steel Stronger?

Steel is stronger than aluminum, hands down. Galvanized steel is better able to withstand pressure, impact, and stress. You have more options with the design because of the increased strength of steel.

You can space your posts further apart when using galvanized steel. The extra strength makes it easier to create custom and unique designs. This allows you to overcome the various obstacles on your job site, like ductwork.

Don’t be fooled though. Aluminum is plenty strong enough to provide a safe and compliant railing. Adding more posts will allow it to meet the same load requirements that you may need to follow.

Yet, in this category, galvanized steel wins the day.

Is Galvanized Steel or Aluminum More Corrosive-Resistant?

Both metals provide very strong protection against corrosion. Aluminum is more naturally resistant than steel. But, the galvanization process evens the playing field.

The difference here is going to depend on your environment. If you are working in an area with higher saltwater content, then aluminum is going to be a better choice to use.

Unless you have some other reason specific to your site, then it doesn’t matter which of the two you choose. They will both provide a long-lasting solution for a guardrail.

Should I use Aluminum or Galvanized Steel for My Railing?

In most cases, the best choice for our customers is galvanized steel. Its strength advantage means that you need less material than aluminum.

There are a lot more structural pipe fittings available in galvanized steel than in aluminum. This allows you to overcome more obstacles and design a better-looking solution.

There are two common reasons why our customers choose aluminum over galvanized steel. The first reason is when the guardrail is being installed on the coast. The second is when installing a railing in a wastewater treatment plant.

Use galvanized steel if the above circumstances don't apply to you. It's cheaper, more options are available, and it's stronger.

Don’t worry if you are still unsure of which metal to use for your guardrail. Connect with one of our experts and they will help you determine the best solution for your project!

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