Did you know that 25% of all aluminum is used in the construction industry? In the early twentieth century, aluminum was too expensive and not produced in sufficient volumes to use in construction, but that changed in the 1920s when the electrolysis process reduced the cost of aluminum by 80%. The metal became extremely popular for finishing roofs and domes and for use in drains and wall panels, as well as for decorative purposes.
Here are the top 10 most common uses for aluminium in the construction industry today:
1. Aluminium Skirting
Using aluminum for skirting you will find there are no blemishes, knots, or warping as is possible with timber. Aluminum skirting takes a lot of punishment and will not crack, splinter, warp, or rot if it gets wet. It’s great value for money and is easy to replace when required.
Aluminium skirting can be made in any color – in fact, ATC stocks a range of sizes and finishes including anodized, as well as powder coated in black and white. Custom colors can also be arranged.
Aluminium is a great roofing material coming in the form of tiles and shingles in Australia. Being extremely resistant to corrosion. Its lightweight in comparison to other materials and its strength-to-weight ratio is among the highest of the “common” metals–that is why airplane designers use aluminum for airframes. This lightness and thinness also mean aluminum roofing material stores very little heat and also becomes cool quickly once it stops receiving direct sunlight. Aluminum is quite malleable, allowing it to be configured into complex profiles and as for life span – it will probably outlive all of us.
Aluminum cladding has received an unfairly bad reputation in recent times for being combustible – but this occurred thanks to constructors using low-quality and non-compliant material. Pure aluminum flat sheets will not catch fire, looks great, and has excellent thermal properties. For example, aluminum sheet with reflective foil covering protects premises from cold temperatures four times better than 10 cm thick brick facing or 20 cm thick stone masonry. That is why it is widely used in the coldest areas of the world like Siberia.
4. Window and door frames
Aluminum is far and away the installer’s material of choice regarding windows and door frames. Aluminum windows are a perfect choice for modern houses and high-rise builds, though their sleek style can also be tailored to treat period homes. Aluminum frames can be powder coated in any color. The very high strength-to-weight ratio means less aluminum is needed to withstand large amounts of glazing and wind deflection compared to other materials.
5. Solar panels
Aluminum is used for the frames and fixing systems for solar panels as well as inside the panels themselves. Being light in weight, high in strength, and able to withstand rooftop conditions without corroding, aluminum is the perfect material for this use.
6. Staircases and safety ramps
Once again, the light weight combined with the high strength of aluminum and the fact that it will not rot or rust means that it is the perfect material for staircases and ramps. Aluminum is cheaper than steel or wrought iron, despite possessing the same strength and durability benefits, and requires very little maintenance in both wet and dry conditions.
7. Air conditioning systems
Aluminum tubing is rapidly becoming the tube material of choice in HVAC and air conditioning applications because it is cheaper, lighter, and more recyclable than copper. Although it is true that aluminum is only 50% as efficient in conducting heat, the difference is negligible when it comes to heat transfer performance. Also, aluminum is immune to “formicary corrosion” – a long-standing problem with copper tubing in air conditioning systems caused by a chemical reaction to lubrication oils.
8. Heating systems/exchangers
Aluminum with its high thermal conductivity passes on heat rapidly – so you and your house get warmer faster! If you’ve ever filled a hot water bottle, it can be surprising how cool it can feel at first, even when it’s just been filled with hot water. But the heat does get through eventually. If it were made of aluminum rather than rubber, it would warm up in no time. Aluminum heat exchangers are also much quieter, lighter, less affected by corrosion, and cheaper than stainless steel.
Aluminum is of course fantastic for outdoor furniture is durable and light, and able to be formed into any shape. You’ll also find some amazing-looking modern furniture made with aluminum frames and fittings. Check out this amazing chair from Tom Dixon Studio in the UK.
10. Aluminium curtain wall
By far and away the largest use of aluminum is in the construction of curtain walls – these are the giant skyscraper-sized walls of glass and grid that populate our cities. Without aluminum, these structures would simply be too heavy. They’re essential for keeping out the rain and weather, reducing building sway, and increasing energy efficiency – and of course, they look fantastic and are highly versatile in the hands of talented architects.