Aluminium vs Wood: What’s the best option for your pergola or patio?
10th January 2018
It’s finally happened.
You’ve committed to building an outdoor entertaining area.
The lifelong dream of having a drink and a barbie on your very own patio or pergola is about to come true.
You’re so close to relaxing in the shade, enjoying the warm summer breeze and sipping an ice-cold beverage - you can almost taste it right now.
A fair chunk of design and planning lies ahead but there’s one critical element you need to consider before you get any further into your project.
What material are you going to use for the job?
The age old argument.
There are two options and you need to work out which one suits your build.
Aluminium or wood?
On one hand, timber is rustic and traditional.
On the other hand, aluminium needs next to no maintenance comes in loads of colours (Including a high-quality timber look finish) and never rusts, deteriorates or fades.
It’s a tough choice to make but we’ve helped countless renovators make this call on their DIY jobs.
We’ve thrown together a few pros and cons to help you weigh up the wood vs aluminium debate so you can make the right decision for your backyard project.
Here are the 4 most important factors to consider when choosing your pergola or patio material...
#1. Timber needs continual maintenance
Timber is a classic choice for patios, decks and pergolas.
The traditional, rustic wood finish and cost-effectiveness of timber can’t go unnoticed but there’s a genuine downside when building outdoor entertaining areas with timber.
You’re setting yourself up for frequent maintenance to keep the structure strong, healthy and aesthetically pleasing.
If you decide to go with the DIY pergola option - you’re looking at a few ongoing maintenance requirements to keep the structure healthy:
An initial coat of high quality, heat resistant paint to prevent dry heat damage
A fresh coat of paint every five years or so, to ensure optimal timber protection
A rub down of the pergola structure with bleach in the damper months to avoid mould from settling in
Wooden pergolas will deteriorate in the elements over time without proper care and maintenance. Check out our article on how to clean decking on your pergola for more ideas on how to look after timber structures.
Aluminium is built to withstand the elements. Aluminium pergolas are crafted with long-lasting materials and coated with a high-quality powder to protect the metallic finish.
Compared to timber alternatives, aluminium requires next to no maintenance, leaving you with more time for other outdoor projects, extensions and barbecues in the backyard.
#2. Aluminium is non-combustible, keeping you and your family safe
Extreme weather conditions start to flare up towards the end of spring and into the summer months. The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre's (CRC) seasonal outlook for 2017-2018 emphasise the high risk of bushfires this summer with over 2,000 fires already burning up parts of the dry Aussie landscape.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) provides building and construction outlines for building in bushfire prone areas. It’s crucial to check your bushfire attack level (BAL) before deciding which material to build with - you could have limits depending on the area you live in.
Your BAL is determined by:
The type of vegetation on/around your property
How close your home/patio/pergola is to the vegetation
What the effective slope is (i.e. fire runs more readily and with greater intensity uphill)
The Fire Danger Index applicable to the region
Your BAL score will be higher when closer to these dangers and the higher the score, the more restrictions you’ll face getting approval to build. The materials available to build with may also be affected.
Projects with a high BAL must be designed and constructed to withstand extreme head in bushfire conditions so building with wood may be off the table.
You can lodge a development application here but be sure to check out the site assessment methodology in Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006 for your BAL score. It could determine the material you use for your patio or pergola.
#3. Aluminium pergolas and patios give you convenient opening roof options
Choosing aluminium for your outdoor project opens up a world of opportunities for opening/remote controlled roofs.
Our Eclipse Opening Roof gives you total control over the amount of sunlight on your pergola, deck or patio, and the louvres overlap when closed to provide maximum protection against rain.
You can control the Eclipse Roof with a slimline remote control, or directly from your smartphone/tablet. There’s also the option to set-up rain, light and wind sensors to have your roof adjust automatically to the weather.
The Aussie-designed aluminium louvres are engineered to withstand extreme heat, strong winds and corrosive coastal conditions so there’s no maintenance, no damage and no problem.
This one places a firm tick in the aluminium column.
All-weather convenience is a significant bonus.
#4. Aluminium patios and pergolas will withstand the years
Timber may be a more cost-effective and traditional material for a pergola or patio but aluminium will go the distance and stay standing, unchanged, for years to come.
Before you make your decision on which material to build with, consider the following:
Wood is higher maintenance and although the cost is less upfront, you’ll spend more and more in upkeep over the long run
Aluminium is more likely to pass a bushfire attack level (BAL) assessment with your local council and the RFS
Aluminium opens up the opportunity for a remote controlled opening roof system to make outdoor entertaining in all conditions so much easier
The pros of an aluminium patio or pergola outweigh the slightly higher costs. Wood may be cheaper but aluminium is strong, long-lasting and sturdy enough to withstand the years.
Have we inspired you to build a brand new patio? Check out our article on getting council approval for a patio, pergola or deck.
Get in touch with the HV Aluminium team today on (02) 4903 3388 to kickstart your pergola or patio project in Newcastle, the Central Coast or the Hunter Valley.
Image source: HV Aluminium