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Column similarities and differences, picture in the background shows Snap-Tite PVC Columns on a commercial building.

Similarities and Differences In Columns

  •   Posted on November 23, 2021

Columns can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and materials. Today we will take a look at the different materials and the advantages each brings to the table.

Similarities and Differences In Columns

Selecting the right column material can be very important for your home. Do I need load bearing capabilities? Will it match well with my home’s exterior? How expensive is it? Let’s take a quick dive into column materials and the factors that should be considered when choosing a material.

Aluminum

The first material we will discuss is admittedly one that is close to Superior’s heart… aluminum. Out of the materials we’ll discussed here, aluminum columns are the most traditional, and still have plenty to offer. Aluminum columns offer unmatched load-bearing capabilities, with some columns being able to hold up to 75,000 lbs.! Of course, aluminum columns also offer the added benefit of being made from a lightweight metal, meaning assembly is a breeze. Alas, one of the downsides to aluminum is its price point compared to its other column counterparts.

Aluminum Columns support an entry way at a residential homeAluminum Columns have the benefit of being load-bearing structural supports.

PVC

PVC is oftentimes seen as the new kid on the block, but it has quickly gained popularity. PVC is lightweight and easy to work with, making installations a breeze. PVC is often the lowest cost solution for column wraps, as cellular PVC is cheaper to produce then its Aluminum and Fiberglass counterparts. Furthermore, PVC can be trimmed and cut into various shapes, such as the popular craftsman style PVC column wraps. However, due to PVC being more lightweight and pliable in nature, PVC is a non-loadbearing material. Because of this, PVC is used for wrap-around column applications only, meaning it conceals some type of load bearing structure (word or steel). Furthermore, with most PVC columns to connect the PVC wrap around the load-bearing structure, and adhesive needs applied in the seams that will need to be bungeed together for a time period until dry. However, with Superior’s new Snap-Tite™ PVC Column Wraps no glue is required!

Row of PVC Snap-Tite Columns on the outside of a commercial building entrywaySnap-Tite™ PVC Column Wraps allow for quick and easy assembly without glue or adhesives 

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is seen as the middle ground between PVC and aluminum. While fiberglass columns cannot compare to the amazing load-bearing strengths of aluminum, fiberglass does offer some load-bearing capabilities of up to 20,000 lbs. Like its PVC counterpart, being made of a synthetic material reduces cost, though not to the cost saving extent of PVC. So, what is the catch with Fiberglass? Weight is the major factor that might hinder someone from choosing fiberglass, as it is notably heavier in comparison to both aluminum and PVC. This makes it more difficult to handle and in turn, assemble.  Fiberglass also comes in one piece, making it not a good choice for wrap-around applications.  It can be cut vertically, but then needs re-patched once wrapped around the existing structure, with re-finishing often taking a long period of time.

Round Fiberglass Columns on the entryway of a residential home 

Fiberglass provides a middle ground between the strength of aluminum and cost savings of PVC

Why it Matters

Choosing the right material not only comes down to preference but also application. If load-bearing is required, an aluminum or fiberglass column option can be used. If price is a major concern, PVC or Fiberglass might be the best route to go. These factors and more should be considered when choosing which column material is right for you!

 

Regardless, Superior offers a wide variety of Aluminum, PVC, and Fiberglass column options to fit your exact need! Got a question about columns? Please feel free to contact us!

 

Further Readings

Column History - Present Day

Taking a Look at a "Historic" Product

Examining 15 Common Column Terms