Have you thought of Aluminium Decking recently?

Aluminium is quickly becoming the construction industry’s go-to decking material of choice for balconies & terraces. Not only does it offer a fantastic finish and a contemporary look and feel, but it is also non-combustible (i.e. Fire Classification compliant), slip-resistant, durable, corrosion-protected and very low-maintenance. We are seeing aluminium decking in an increasing number of new-build and remediation projects. 

Aluminium is a relatively new material in decking design and many people still question its suitability. Let’s address some of these questions to help you make an informed, risk-free decision.

How is aluminium installed?

Aluminium decking is installed in a number of ways depending on the design of the balcony and terrace. On steel, bolt-on and cantilever balconies aluminium decking systems are fixed directly to the balcony steel. Joist hangers provide additional support, while cleats are incorporated into the system to provide additional height. Advanced systems feature clip-in boards for easy installation. 

Height-adjustable joist pedestals are often used to raise the decking off the substrate on terraces to facilitate installation. Cleats can be used to provide low-height support, while spreader plates will distribute joist pressure more evenly across the substrate if required. 

What about the cost of aluminium decking? 

The cost of aluminium decking can vary significantly depending on project size, scope and complexity. Influencing factors also include material prices, quality, whether the decking is for a terrace or balcony, and how the systems are engineered. 

Having said this, aluminium prices are not prone to significant fluctuations. A terrace will typically cost more than a balcony because the decking needs to be raised above the substrate. Likewise, upper-floor balconies on high-rise buildings will be more costly than 1st or 2nd-floor systems because of the infrastructure required to install them.  

Always remember that you can reduce costs and de-risk a project by planning your decking during the balcony or terrace design stage. Otherwise, it may be challenging to optimise cost efficiency. Some forward-thinking will go a long way towards eliminating waste. 

For anyone wanting to dig a little deeper, we wrote an article on the cost of Aluminium Decking

Is aluminium decking compliant?

Aluminium’s most significant benefit is its non-combustibility. This is why it is part of our IGNO® Non-Combustible Innovation range. It can be heated to extremely high temperatures without producing flames or smoke. This makes it a fantastic choice for architects & construction professionals who want to guarantee compliance with the very latest safety standards: particularly relevant to buildings that fall under the purview of the post-Grenfell fire regulations that banned combustible materials on the exterior walls of constructions exceeding 18 metres in height.  

Aluminium is now regularly used in remediation projects to replace combustible materials in high-rise buildings.  

Does aluminium decking get hot?

One of the other questions we come across is whether aluminium decking will get too hot in the summer and become unusable. In reality, this doesn’t happen. Compared to other common decking materials, aluminium has a high specific heat capacity, meaning it takes less energy to warm it up. 

Aluminium is also a more efficient thermal conductor than other materials, so heat is distributed across the entire surface more easily and, as a result, it will cool faster. If you factor in design features like a ridged “heat sink” surface, aluminium becomes an excellent decking material.  

The colour of the finish also affects temperature: lighter colours reflect more heat and darker hues absorb more. Naturally, the latter will feel warmer to the touch than the former. It goes without saying that on a sunny day, south-facing aluminium decking will feel warmer than any north-facing terraces and balconies. 

Here’s some more reading on the thermal performance of Aluminium Decking

Does aluminium decking require a lot of maintenance?

The truth is that aluminium decking requires very little maintenance compared to other decking materials. Unlike wood, it doesn’t require staining, painting or sealing, and is not prone to the same level of decay. In fact, aluminium does not absorb water and can be maintained in its original condition by washing it with warm, soapy water and a non-abrasive cloth or brush. From a maintenance perspective, aluminium is definitely a high performer! 

Does aluminium decking scratch easily?

Aluminium decking is relatively scratch-resistant. Like any material, if you really want to scratch it and try hard enough, you can. However, for everyday use, it is a durable and robust choice. Aluminium resistance is enhanced by the powder coating applied to the surface, making it a popular choice amongst those in construction who are looking for hard-wearing, low-maintenance solutions.

What now?

Why not take a closer look at our innovative TerraSmart® Aluminium decking systems and see how these extremely versatile solutions, created to maximise the material’s core strengths and designed for easy installation and world-class performance, can be part of your next construction project? 

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