Wrought Iron vs. Aluminum Railings (Cost Comparison)

Many homeowners want to know whether they should buy aluminum railings or wrought-iron railings. There are substantial differences between the two. Overall, it is up to the homeowner’s emphasis on material or style. 

Aluminum railings are strong depending on the alloy and can be expensive, but not as expensive as wrought iron railings. Wrought iron fences, on the other hand, are more durable than aluminum railings. Meanwhile, wrought iron railings are more expensive, subject to corrosion, and can present a potential for injury.

Keep reading as we explore aluminum and wrought iron railings further and each materials’ pros and cons.

Wrought Iron Railing and Aluminum Railing Characteristics

There are distinctive differences between aluminum and wrought iron railing. The type of railings you choose widely depends on the function you want to use it for:

Aluminum RailingsWrought Iron Railings
does not rust when stripped down to the metal while wrought iron does rust, it would take decades for it to rust when stripped down to the metal
costs between $40-$70+ per linear footcosts between $100-$200+ per linear foot
breaks under pressurethere are tamper-proof screws
low maintenance and does not need repaintingacts as a boundary to keep children and pets in your yard
not sturdystronger and more durable than aluminum 
adjusts to the slope of your landcan be used as a lattice to grow plants
aluminum railings fit inside the post but need to be connected while the cement is wet uses a bracket and a self-tapping screw to secure the railings
can take over 10,000 years to disintegrateincreases home value

Both materials are great options, so it largely comes down to personal preferences and your particular situation. They are similar in many ways, including often having the same finishes, both are aesthetically pleasing, and gate installation in both materials is the same.

Everything You Need to Know About Aluminum Railings

Here we’ll cover everything you need to know about aluminum railings, from how much they cost to how strong they are and tons more.

How Expensive are Aluminum Railings?

Aluminum railings can be expensive. They cost between $40 and $70 or more per linear foot. The price of aluminum depends on the area and design of your deck or stairs. It also depends on how much you order.

For example, a 100-pack of aluminum railings can go for over $1,000 on Amazon. Despite the high price tag, aluminum railings are typically less expensive than wrought iron fences or barriers. 

How Strong are Aluminum Railings?

As with many metals, the strength of aluminum railings depends on the main alloy composition of the fence. In general, it is not as strong as wrought iron, though aluminum rails are structurally sound. Aluminum railings also have the following benefits:

  • Aluminum railings also have the following benefits:
  • Aluminum railings will not weaken over time
  • The fences maintain their shape in extreme temperature
  • Some aluminum handrail systems are ADA-compliant
  • The rails will not crack, chip or peel
  • The barriers only need to be cleaned once a year

Finally, aluminum railings arrive in a kit with all the necessary pieces, making them easy to install. 

Do Aluminum Railings Rust?

Aluminum is corrosion-resistant and will take much longer than iron to rust. It is also insect-resistant and decay-resistant. It is also unlikely that aluminum railings will peel, crack, or blister. Other types of damage, such as impact from falling tree limbs, may require the replacement of your fence panels.    

Fortunately, you can replace the damaged section of your fence. Use the following steps:

  1. Cut the three rails where the rails meet the post only on one side.
  1. Remove post screws on both sides of the sections. You may have to hold the cut rail.
  1. Pull the damaged side away from the cut edge and pull the other side out from the other post.
  1. Take one end of the new section and place it in the holes of the existing post.
  1. Cut the other end to fit into the brackets.
  1. Confirm that you did this correctly by taking one end of the new section, placing it in the holes of the existing post, and putting the other end in the slots of the other post. They should slide into place if you cut it correctly. 
  1. Remove the side you just cut.
  1. Resecure the new section into the post by drilling in the post screws.
  1. Slide the brackets on the cut ends.
  1. Slide the section into place.
  1. Using a drill, secure the bracket to the post.
  1. You may have to drill a hole for a self-tapping screw if the fence is on an angle.

What are Some Legal Issues Involving Aluminum Fences?

You are far more likely to run into civil lawsuits from homeowner associations instead of causing personal injury if you own an aluminum fence. 

In some cases, the problem is the absence of a fence. For example, the city of Frontenac sued Former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Jim Edmonds for not putting an aluminum fence around his pool. 

In other cases, homeowners associations may get involved because of the aesthetic appeal of the fence. For example, the homeowners association of Hampton Cove sued Tom Devenish because he did not have a brick or corner post. Instead, he only had aluminum railings, which violated homeowners association rules. 

Which Companies Make the Best Aluminum Railings?

Multiple companies manufacture aluminum railings. The quality of the fences and the aesthetic look can vary from company to company. There are three companies that we highly recommend:

1. Trex Signature Deck Railings

Trex manufactures customizable and simple to assemble deck railings. Most reviews also attest to how good their quality is. If you’re into making your railings aesthetically pleasing, Trex is most likely the one for you. Their aluminum railings feature a unique glass rail design with rod rails that are similar to cable railing.

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2. Westbury Railing

If you’re looking for something easy to install, Westbury got you covered! Westbury aluminum railings feature pre-slotted parts, which make the installation process a little easier. They also have custom color options that will help your aluminum railings blend wherever you are installing them. You also get to choose from a variety of sizes.

3. Deckorators ALX Aluminum Railing

It’s best to buy from Deckorators if you’re looking for something unique. Their classic aluminum railings line looks like a loaf of bread, so it will undoubtedly get a lot of attention. They are also great at withstanding elements, so rest assured that they are aesthetically pleasing and durable.

Everything You Need to Know About Wrought Iron Railings

Here’s everything you need to know about wrought iron failings to get started, from how much they rust to safety issues and much more.

How Do Wrought Iron Railings Cost?

Many factors play a part in determining the price of wrought iron railing, but generally, you can get some for $100 to $200 or more per linear foot. The quality, craftsmanship, installation, and quantity can make the price slightly lower or drastically higher.

What are Some Safety Issues Involving Wrought Iron Fences?

When it comes to safety issues, wrought iron fences appear to have more problems than aluminum fences. Personal injury can be an issue, as is the case with two recent freak accidents.

Toddler Kade Damien died climbing a wrought iron fence and got stuck in between the rails. A 64-year-old also got their head stuck in the sides of a wrought iron fence at a bank. 

Fortunately, these incidents are few and far between. The safety that wrought iron fences provide your family will far outweigh any unfortunate and rare mishap. 

Do Wrought Iron Railings Rust?

Wrought iron fences will rust, but fortunately, this problem is fixable. Any of the following can cause rust:

  • Chipped paint
  • Weather
  • Dirt and plants that go over the fence

It is also preventable by using any of the following:

  • Applying FOZZ iron primer
  • Coating it with powder
  • Giving it an organic coating
  • Galvanizing the steel
  • Ensuring that the design layout will prevent rusting
  • Using the “bluing” process

If you regularly maintain it, then rust should not be hard to deal with. Use steel wool to take off small patches of rust as they appear. You will need to inspect your fence about two times a year.

Final Thoughts

Aluminum railings and wrought iron railings have their positives and negatives. For example, aluminum is less expensive, but its appearance may violate homeowner regulations. Aluminum is strong but may buckle under pressure. Finally, aluminum may be sturdy, but an intruder can dismantle the barrier with enough time.  

Meanwhile, while wrought iron railings can result in freak accidents, it is a solid barrier. While it might not buckle under pressure, it can be hard to replace parts of the fence. While it might be sturdy, it will rust if left untreated for a long time. 

If you do not choose aluminum railings or wrought iron railing, perhaps vinyl, wood, or chain-link fences would work for you. These materials are also durable, can withstand damage, and are aesthetically pleasing. Whichever material you choose, if you want to protect your family and keep intruders out, a fence is an excellent investment to make on your property. 

Finally, railings are a matter of personal preference as well as safety. Fences will keep your family safe, and the look of the barrier is highly customizable. We hope you choose the best boundary for its aesthetic appeal and the safety it will provide your family. 

Sources

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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