Trying to decide on a patio cover for your outdoor space? We compare the best and worst features of aluminum vs. wood patio covers to help you decide!
Your patio is cleaned, ready, complete with lounge furniture, coolers, a swing, and even a fire pit, but there are reports of rain in the weeks to come. Face it. You need to invest a little extra in a patio cover.
But that's easier said than done. Like everything else, there are several kinds of patio covers, and you will have to make your pick broadly based on your region, local weather, your ability to maintain it regularly, and -- let's not forget -- the overall aesthetics of your outdoor space.
Let's take a more detailed look at all the options out there, specifically wood vs aluminum patio covers, and all their pros and cons you should know about.
The Wood Patio Cover
The biggest advantage wood patio covers have vs. aluminum is the natural look it gives to your outdoor space, especially if it's made of similar material. They are also of a sturdier build, with enough heft to hold up hanging flowerpots, bird feeders, and even a hammock!
The initial investment in a wood patio cover is also comparatively less (so long as you don't go for a particularly expensive kind like teak or redwood), and it makes for an eco-friendly solution.
That said, there are a few disadvantages of wood patio covers that you should bear in mind before investing in one.
Wood is susceptible to natural damage from termites, rain, humidity, wind, and chemical contaminants, you will need to maintain it regularly. This may cost a lot in terms of time, labor, and money in the years to come.
Types of Wood for Patio Covers
Deciding which kind of wood you want protecting your patio may also require some thought. While teak makes for the safest option, given its natural-born resistance to both the weather and pests, constructing an entire cover with it may turn out to be a little too expensive.
Among the other woods to consider are cedar, redwood, acacia, and shorea, each having its own set of concerns you should be aware of.
You may also want to decide whether to paint the wood or simply stain it. While staining the wood enhances its natural look, paint offers better protection from the elements. Another hard decision to make, whichever way you look at it.
The Aluminum Patio Cover
So, you come upon the other popular option for patio covers, one they claim is invulnerable when compared to wood. However, while aluminum seems ideal on paper, a closer look would show that this material comes with its own set of problems.
The biggest advantage aluminum has over wood is its near-negligible need for maintenance. Being a metal that doesn't rust, it can be harmed neither by rain nor humidity.
An aluminum patio cover is not vulnerable to extreme heat, mold, rot, or termites either, and if it gets dirty, all you need is some water and a sponge to get it gleaming again. This quality makes aluminum adept for all locations, regardless of climatic or topographical factors.
Most importantly, this also makes for an ecologically sound choice. Aluminum patio covers are usually manufactured from reclaimed material, and upon running their course, they can be recycled again.
That said, aluminum is simply not as aesthetically pleasing as wood. A patio cover made of metal looks comparatively cheap and does not even have the general girth to bear the weight of potted plants. Hammocks and swings? Forget about it.
Second, installing aluminum covers requires more expertise than wooden ones and are, therefore, not very DIY-likely. Unless you are extremely handy with tools, you would have no choice but to hire professionals for the job -- jacking up initial costs in the bargain.
Some Things to Consider Before Buying a Patio Cover
A mistake made today could lead to needless expenses tomorrow, and this is precisely the thought that should guide your hunt for the perfect patio cover. We answer a few frequently asked questions that may just clarify things for you.
Why should I even get a cover for my patio?
While the most obvious benefit of having a patio cover is the protection it offers to your precious furniture and related equipment, it doesn't stop at that. A covered patio prevents the weather, be it rain or extreme heat, from driving you indoors.
It also provides protected space for holding parties with friends, reading books undisturbed, and privacy to snuggle up with your partner away from prying eyes (provided you have curtains installed). On the health front, a covered patio reduces exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.
How about a vinyl patio cover, vs aluminum or wood?
Vinyl, like aluminum, does not rot, peel, or get infected by pests. It can be easily cleaned with soap and water, and won't need to be sanded, painted or stained. On the flip side, it's not as attractive as wood and painting; it is not usually an option. It is susceptible to discoloration by ultraviolet rays from the sun and has limited recyclability.
Are there any alternatives to a patio cover?
Instead of a patio cover, which is usually attached to the house, you could opt for a gazebo. Being a standalone structure that can be set up easily, there are several options such as these by Sojag and Happybuy available online.
Another alternative would be a pergola, like this cedar creation by Backyard Discovery, which allows for that Mediterranean feel amid creepers and flowering plants.
Need something temporary? This sail shade from Sunny Guard should work perfectly!
Aluminum vs Wood Patio Covers: The Verdict
Wood and aluminum are superstars in their own right and choosing between the two would be more a product of personal preference than any blanket conclusion on worth. For instance, if you have a modern house with sleek silver-accented furniture, aluminum should be your obvious material of choice.
However, if the mood of your residence is more a cozy mellow than gray, complete with a grandfather clock and a giant dining table made of oak, you would do well to go with a wood patio cover.
But then again, appearance should not be your only consideration. Being a construction material that demands a lot of care over the years, wood is not everybody’s cup of tea.
If you are the busy kind with very little time to spare for backyard maintenance, an aluminum patio cover should be perfect for you. Provided you don’t hang a swing from it.