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Explaining alloys, picture in background featuring multiple balconies with railing as a guardrail.

Explaining Alloys

  •   Posted on January 18, 2022

People are asking about alloys, but what does that even mean?

Today we will take a dive into what an alloy is, and the effects that different alloys can have on building products. 

What is an alloy?

First we need to understand what an alloy is. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary an alloy is “a substance composed of two or more metals, or of a metal and a nonmetal intimately united usually by being fused together and dissolving in each other when molten.” To simplify, an alloy is two or more metals combined together to create one uniform material. In general, most metals will not be utilized in a pure form, as they will be unstable. As such, different alloys with different makeups are utilized in the composition of materials. In most cases an alloy is mainly composed of one primary metal, i.e. aluminum alloys are primarily aluminum.

Does it matter?

Most single-named metals are actually a composition of various metals. So, everyone’s been lying about what things are made of I guess? What’s the big deal?

In reality, it is standard practice to refer to a metal item as the main metal used in the alloy, mostly for sake of comprehension and understanding. The big deal is that different alloys provide different benefits depending upon the item and situation in question. The alloy utilized also has a large effect on a couple of key aspects of the product.


In many applications, an alloy is created to enhance or strengthen qualities of the original material. Most metals are either unstable or weak in a pure form. From a building products perspective, utilizing the correct alloys helps a product provide the proper strength and code requirements for useful applications.

Of course, not all alloys are the same. By changing the mixture of metals added, new and different alloys are created, each with a unique set of properties compared to the next. Two aluminum alloys, 6063-T5 and 6005A-T5 are a good example of this. Both alloys are made up mostly of aluminum but because of slight tweaks in the overall formula, the 6005A-T5 aluminum alloy is stronger than its 6063-T5 counterpart. Meanwhile the 6063 alloy makes up for its lesser strength by being more malleable.

multiple balconies with aluminum railing being used as guardrailsAlloys allow for strength to be added to railing systems


Depending on the exact mix of metals being used in an alloy, the price of an alloy can become more or less expensive. An easy-to-understand example can be found with gold, where an ounce of 14-karat gold is more expensive than an ounce of 10-karat gold, due to the 14-karat gold containing more valuable material. It is important to try to strike the right balance between cost effective alloys and the quality of alloys. Oftentimes the cheapest option is not the best option, as lower quality alloys are likely at use.

Superior Series 7 Aluminum Picket Fence surrounds a complex's pool area. Aluminum railing balconies in the background.

Different Alloys can change the price of products


What does that mean for Superior Aluminum?

Sometimes, when selecting a product it’s easy to just let price be the deciding factor. However, when discussing railings, columns, and fence, it’s important to know what type of alloy is being used and its capabilities. While two products can have similar looks, their strength and overall performance can be dramatically different based upon the alloys being used.

Superior Aluminum has been producing high quality aluminum products for over 60 years and has found that 6063-T5&6 or 6005A-T5 aluminum alloys provide the foundation for a premium product at a reasonable cost. Therefore, these are the alloys used in most Superior Aluminum extrusions.

Interested in learning more about alloys or seeing these alloys put to good use in a railing project? Please contact us or get a railing quote and we will be happy to help you!

Further Readings

Railing to the Rescue

Railing Renovation

Fence - Creating the Perfect Barrier