With more and more people discovering the visual and structural benefits of having a cable handrail system installed, the debate continues over whether stainless steel posts or aluminum rail systems are the better choice.  Both offer a wide range of advantages compared to traditional wood construction, though there are a few fundamental differences that should be considered before making a decision.

In this article we'll look at some of the most significant differences between aluminum and stainless rail systems.

Visual Appearance

In terms of visuals, making the decision to go with stainless or aluminum essentially boils down to preference.  There are those who have suggested that aluminum can lose some of its luster over time, though it really depends on how well it's been maintained, and which grade of aluminum was used to manufacture the rails, posts and other key components.  Cheap, low density aluminum materials will not retain their beauty in the same way that high-quality extruded aluminum will.  Stainless steel rail systems, in contrast, have a clean, timeless appearance that looks impressive in virtually any commercial or residential setting.

Strength & Durability

Backyard balcony with stainless steel cable railing systemThis is arguably one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right cable rail system, as it will play a big role in safety, reliability and property value over time.  Stainless rail systems are renowned for their ability to withstand even the harshest weather elements, making it popular among those who live near water, or regions where blistering sun and heavy snow is the norm.  They can also sustain higher levels of abuse from being grabbed and used to lean on.  Look for components made from 304 or 316 stainless steel for the best results.  If you decide on aluminum, be sure to use only extruded materials that are engineered stamped and legal.

Maintenance Requirements

For many homeowners and property managers, it's understandable that maintenance requirements are something which will be a factor over years or decades.  Stainless steel hand rail systems are essentially maintenance free.  They require the least amount of TLC and will retain their strength and looks over extended periods of time.  Extruded aluminum systems can maintain their original appearance with only minimal care needed, though they are not as maintenance-free as their stainless counterparts.

Learn More from Stainless Cable Solutions

Whether you're a homeowner or a professional cable rail installer, choosing the right type of system for your needs is a decision that will echo long into the future.  Call Stainless Cable Solutions for additional details on choosing the best cable railing system for your home or commercial project.