What makes aluminium an effective construction material?
Aluminium is the second most frequently used metal in construction after steel and is used for a range of sectors within the construction industry. There are a broad range of materials available that are suitable for application in construction, and when architects are designing a project there are many options to consider. Aluminium grew in popularity in the early-20th century, within the construction industry, when it became widely used for decorative detailing and Art Deco architecture.
In the mid-1900’s the Empire State Building was completed which utilised architectural aluminium for much of its interior structures and its distinctive spire. This breakthrough propelled aluminium to become one of the most commonly used materials in architecture. It began to be used for roofing, aluminium flashings, spandrels and aluminium windows and doors.
What are the most common materials used in architecture?
Modern architecture has been transformed over the years due to the industrialisation of many materials, metals and construction techniques. In response to these abundant materials, traditional architecture with its intricate detailing was shunted to one side, paving the way for sleek and minimalistic architectural designs.
The most popular materials in architecture are concrete, brick, steel, glass, aluminium, stone and wood. One of the most important choices when it comes to architects choosing which materials to use is the desired emotions that they want the viewer to feel when observing their design in physical form.
Selecting the right materials is key to successful architecture as different materials offer a different emotion; for example, wood can offer a warm feeling of comfort whereas concrete can create a cold and pronounced presence within its environment.
What are the main advantages of using aluminium in construction?
Aluminium is a non-ferrous metal (a metal that does not contain iron) and is available in abundance once extracted. Architects, developers and main contractors choose aluminium for use in construction as they know exactly what they can achieve with this versatile material. It possesses outstanding strength and durability that are required to meet modern standards in sophisticated, contemporary architecture.
There are many advantages of using aluminium in construction, that are beneficial for renovations as well as new builds. There are countless advantages to using aluminium in modern architecture but here are the main advantages:
- Aluminium is available in a wide range of colours. Aluminium can be finished using several techniques including Polyester Powder Coating (PPC) which comes with an abundant selection of RAL colours. For renovation projects, this method of finishing is advantageous because the RAL colour chart usually offers a colour match to existing framework to create a cohesive finish to the architectural design.
- Aluminium has a long lifespan and is maintenance friendly. The components of aluminium stops damage from UV rays and moisture and the metal doesn’t rust or weather from harsh environments. This impressive durability means that it’s smooth finish doesn’t require regular maintenance, unlike wood.
- Aluminium is an excellent material for architectural applications as it’s an environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible. It’s a fully recyclable metal which is easily renewable to reduce waste metal.
- Aluminium is one of the best insulators for both temperature and acoustic insulation. Aluminium has an outstanding thermal insulation factor and can insulate against both heat and cold, resulting in impressive energy efficiency in aluminium windows and doors. The insulating properties of this metal is the perfect accompaniment for soundproof glass to create an aluminium framed soundproof window to reduce noise pollution within urban buildings.
- Unlike steel, aluminium is a lightweight material which makes it easy to fabricate and apply. It’s strength to weight ratio is like no other metal which makes aluminium a popular choice, especially for construction projects with difficult accessibility.
- Aluminium is a malleable metal enabling it to be formed into many shapes and profiles.
- Aluminium is commonly used for cladding, pressings and flashing because it can be manufactured to large sizes and therefore requires fewer joints and makes installation very time-efficient – which is always welcomed in the construction industry.
What are the differences between aluminium and uPVC windows and doors?
When considering the options for glazing there are many pros and cons of different frame materials that need to be thought through. One of the main questions people ask when choosing windows is ‘what is the difference between aluminium windows and doors compared to uPVC?’. Here are the main differences:
UPVC glazing is very easy and quick to maintain, the frames can be cleaned with just a damp cloth to make them look almost new. These frames are lightweight which means they can be easily installed and quickly. The frames of uPVC offer good insulation and most companies offer a guarantee between 5-10 years.
Similar to uPVC, aluminium windows and doors offer easy maintenance due to their durable, smooth finish. Aluminium is also a lightweight material which results in time-efficient installation. However, aluminium is environmentally friendly – it’s recyclable and even creates a very high-quality new aluminium when it’s been recycled. It also has greater design options than uPVC as the frames can be finished in a wider range of colours.
One main benefit of aluminium is its strength and durability which can withstand very harsh weather conditions in exposes locations. The strength of aluminium also enables slimmer profiles for bifolding doors, and larger areas of glass for a more sophisticated and elegant sliding door design.
Even though uPVC comes at a lower price point to aluminium, aluminium frames for glazing offer many advantages for a longer lasting, more contemporary and versatile glazing installation. The decision comes down to personal choice and the requirements for the project, however for properties in exposed locations (such as glazing in Guernsey) we recommend aluminium frames to withstand the harsh weather.
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