Steel vs Aluminum – When to Use Which

There is a common conundrum in the fabrication industry, or rather with the client’s approaching us with the question of whether to use steel or aluminum for their pending project.

Aluminum is of course a lighter weight metal, and will cost you less per pound to purchase. However, aluminum fabrication is slightly more per hour to work on, as it is more finicky to handle …so that can sometimes counteract the low-cost of purchase, and outweigh your decision.

The other benefits of aluminum are that is can be painted, anodized, powder coated or left bare – all with no worries of rust.

Aluminum is also used a lot with marine applications because of its resistance to salt water corrosion and rust. In addition, outdoor applications such as handrails, owning, docks, and various other outdoor applications, are also common uses for aluminum.

Steel, on the other hand, is cheaper than aluminum but heavier in weight. The fabrication costs are lower, but this type of material needs to be finished with paint, powder coating, or galvanizing.

Steel is of course stronger than aluminum as mentioned, so it will withstand a lot more hardship. As such, work can be done more quickly and often more accurately with steel. However, a skilled fabricator can provide many options and solutions for either metal project, and we are always happy to discuss those options with our clients.

Be sure to visit back in December, when we discuss the different type of finishes that can be offered with stainless steel!