We’ve covered a number of topics related to railing design, but one question that we often see is what’s the best railing material? Are there benefits to iron railing, or is aluminum the best for its high corrosion resistance?

The short answer, is that aluminum is going to be the lowest maintenance and highest performing option for guardrails.

The longer answer is more complicated. This is because for any selection you make for railing, you’ll want to look at more than just the railing material itself. It’s also important to ask how it’s painted or sealed, how it’s installed, and what kinds of protections you’re offering for the concrete slab.

In an earlier post, we looked at concrete spalling on balconies. Spalling is a visible and structural detetioration of the concrete. Balconies are susceptible to spalling, because they are typically made up of a slim concrete slab with a low-profile steel reinforcement structure.

Both steel and aluminum railings can be installed in such a way that spalling is prevented, but typical installations of iron-based (steel, cast iron, and wrought iron) aren’t using methods which will protect the concrete slab from spalling. We recommend using a connection method which lends itself well to aluminum and glass installations.

Aesthetics: What kind of railing looks best?

The look of iron railing delivers a kind of aged or rustic aesthetic that some might find appealing. The look of cast iron or wrought iron railing can have a certain appeal, but it comes at a high cost for the longevity of your railing system.

Can you create an aged aesthetic with aluminum?

At Poma, we’ve developed a number of custom railings that provided the look of a cast iron fence but with the durability and resistance of aluminum. Learn more about Poma Products and find out how we can help create your vision with your aesthetic.