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Aluminum railing used in a stairway for an educational facility.

Aluminum Vs. Wood... Which Railing is Right for you

  •   Posted on September 28, 2020

Old vs. new: which type of railing is right for you?

Sometimes, classic and traditional ideas are noticeably better than their new alternatives. However, more times than not, there is a reason for the new and improved models. Just take the car for example; for daily use, almost everyone would prefer a newer car compared to an old Ford Model T. From safety to performance, the differences are stark. So too are the differences in the classical railing material of wood versus a more modern material such as aluminum. Let’s take a quick dive into a few of the many factors at play when looking at aluminum versus wood for a railing solution.


Wood railing has been commonplace for hundreds of years based on the high availability and adaptability. Despite the longevity of wood as a railing material, the largest issue with the material is ironically it’s low durability and high maintenance requirements. Wood tends to have multiple areas of concern, namely rotting, splintering, and warping. These concerns can be attributed to many factors such as moisture, dryness, and exposure to sunlight to name a few. Furthermore, each of these concerns must be closely monitored, as once one starts to take place it is near impossible to prevent further damage from happening without replacing an entire section.

wooden railing in nature

wood is susceptible to splintering, warping and rotting over time

While you should regularly check your railing systems, relatively speaking, aluminum railing is maintenance free. Being a metal material, aluminum railing has a high resistance to rotting, splintering, or warping. However, unlike other metals, aluminum does not rust, and simply needs periodic cleaning to keep its pristine look. This allows the new material to withstand adverse conditions and remain structurally sound years down the road.

Visual Appeal

Wood can look great in various settings. Because of its variety and ability to be stained it is able to match and adapt to its surroundings easily. Wood also has the ability to have carvings and other intricate designs molded into its frame that other materials struggle to replicate. Unfortunately, these designs can be ruined by the aforementioned splintering, warping, and rotting. Furthermore, a drawback for the classic material is its lack of malleability. Because of this, designs are normally limited to straight runs and often times seem bulky and cumbersome.

Curved aluminum railing provides a natural flow and is used to creat a curved handrailing

Aluminum is able to be bent to provide a natural flow

On the other hand, aluminum can be curved and bent into various shapes and forms to allow for more natural and aesthetically pleasing designs. Additionally, due to aluminum’s overall strength, less material is needed to provide the same structural support as wood. Combining these factors allows aluminum to be used in a variety of railing applications that not only look great, but oftentimes can end up more cost effective.

Knowing the Difference

As we discussed before, choosing between a classic and the newest offering isn’t always easy. When making any decision between two products its always important to know the major differences. While a nostalgic and classical wood material might seem like a great and cheaper option at first, replacement costs and a lack of malleability can quickly accelerate the initial budget.

Got a question about aluminum railing? Please feel free to contact us. If you are interested in obtaining an aluminum railing of your own, check out our railing quote tool!



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