Aluminum: characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, price

Aluminum is a very interesting and widely used material in the construction industry because of its many qualities. Strong, light, durable, practical and aesthetic, it can be used in many elements of the home such as joinery, verandas and garden sheds, gates and fences, guardrails, cladding, etc. Let’s take stock of the characteristics of this material.

What are the characteristics of aluminum?

Aluminum is a metallic material discovered in 1808 by the British physicist and chemist Sir Humphrey Davy. Both light and strong, it is a very useful metal in the construction industry, because it is easy to work, handy, robust and aesthetic. It is indeed the metal most used in this field after iron. If it was formerly mainly devoted to large-scale work, it is now invited to individuals for the realization of multiple elements of the house.

In the construction industry, aluminum can be used in two forms. The profiles allow the realization of joinery, verandas and other types of construction of this kind. As for laminates, they are reserved for products such as doors, roller shutters, cladding, heating and ventilation equipment, panels or even roofs.

The special thing about aluminum is that it is a soft metal. Its resistance for use in construction often requires it to be combined with other metals, in particular copper and zinc. Obviously, depending on the alloys used, the properties of aluminum will change.

In terms of price, raw aluminum stands on the market at around 840 euros per tonne, or 0.84 euros per kilo.

What are the advantages of aluminum?

Aluminum is a metal that has many advantages.

Lightweight material

Aluminum is very light, which allows for more aerial constructions. It is for this reason that aluminum verandas and windows are much more perforated and elegant than PVC ones. The glass area can be much larger thanks to this material, which is also a way to achieve significant savings. Aluminum indeed offers greater strength and rigidity than other materials, with a density of 2.7 g / cm3.

An easy-to-work material

Malleable, aluminum is easy to forge, roll, extrude and process into a variety of shapes due to its low melting temperature.

A durable material

Aluminum has the advantage of being fully recycled, without losing its properties, thanks to its infinite life cycle. In addition, its resistance to corrosion considerably reduces its maintenance and the need for chemicals. In fact, a protective oxide layer naturally forms on the surface of the aluminum when it comes into contact with air.

An aesthetic material

In terms of finishes, aluminum is a champion since it comes in a multitude of colors, shades and textures. It can even imitate other materials.

To do this, aluminum can be treated in two ways using labeled processes:

  • Anodized aluminum : in this case, the aluminum undergoes a surface treatment so as to form a uniform layer of aluminum oxide by electrolysis. Very resistant, it can be left colorless or colored at will.
  • Powder coated aluminum : this other surface treatment consists of a chemical treatment intended to improve the adhesion of the paint, an electrostatic powder coating and an oven polymerization. The aluminum can thus take on the desired appearance.

What are the disadvantages of this material?

Despite its undeniable strengths, aluminum has certain drawbacks.

A material with low impact resistance

Of course, aluminum is a solid metal, but its thin malleability weakens it and does not allow it to withstand knocks and shocks without deforming or sinking. However, the thicker the aluminum is, the more resistant it will be. When this solution is not possible, it should be combined with a more resistant metal.

A material with high conductivity

Being an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, aluminum is used in the construction of works requiring the transmission of heat or in that of electric wires. On the other hand, for the manufacture of joinery, it is essential to combine it with other insulating materials to avoid thermal bridges.

A material at a higher price

Aluminum costs more than wood and its price is significantly higher than PVC. Indeed, depending on the elements that you intend to build in aluminum, you will need to budget three to ten times more expensive than with other materials.

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