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Stainless Steel vs Extruded Aluminum Handrail System: Which Is Better?

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Is there really a comparison between stainless steel and an extruded aluminum handrail system? Yes definitely. There are several differences in terms of durability, longevity as well as aesthetic appeal.

With many home and property owners realizing the numerous advantages of installing a handrail system, the question of whether a stainless steel or aluminum handrail system is best is yet to be answered.

Both systems give you a broad scope of advantages compared to other materials like wood. Nonetheless these two systems each have their unique benefits which is why we will talk about them both.

In this write up we compare stainless steel and extruded aluminum handrail systems.

Here we go!


Aesthetics & Design Versatility

The first characteristics we are going to compare are aesthetics and design versatility. Aluminum handrail systems provide better design versatility compared to stainless steel.

You can have aluminum extruded into almost any style and shape. It gives room for round, curved and even ornate designs that faultlessly match the décor and architecture of your space.

Additionally, aluminum is a lightweight metal therefore it is easier to shape and bend when installing. Stainless steel handrails however are restricted to straight designs and easy bends.

When it comes to aesthetics, aluminum offers a more contemporary and lavish appearance. Moreover, this metal has a silver tone which will complement almost any home’s décor and even industrial and modern tones.

On the other hand, stainless steel even though it is robust and safe, offers a practical look that is unique and looks great against classy décor. Besides steel’s color is difficult to modify, while aluminum is easily anodized into various shapes and designs.



If you have been working in the metal industry, then you know that aluminum at times can be more affordable compared to stainless steel. Both these metals cost about $75 to $120 per linear ft. This closeness in terms of price makes them good options depending on your specific needs.

Stainless steel is more robust and sturdier, which is why it can be a more preferred choice for outdoor and indoor uses. Also, it has a polished and sleek look.

However, aluminum stands out thanks to its resistance to corrosion and eco friendliness and the fact that it is also recyclable.

Even though their prices are almost the same, aluminum may be a more affordable option in the long run, thanks to its reduced maintenance requirements and prolonged lifespan of over four decades.

But stainless steel while robust may display signs or corrosion and rust within 1 or two decades when installed at home which could result in a need for replacement within such a short time or costly maintenance expenses.



Regarding resilience, stainless steel handrails will come out strong. Prevalently, steel is more robust than aluminum. Again, it is resistant to mechanical harm like dents, therefore it can endure heavy utilization in busy spaces and can haul heavier loads in fall protection projects.

On the other hand, aluminum is soft, therefore, more susceptible to damage from scratches and dents. But aluminum offers better resistance to corrosion, therefore it delivers superior resilience in outdoor areas. If left untreated stainless steel begins running even after 2 years when exposed to UV rays, snow, rain and salt air.

Nevertheless, aluminum can serve you for over 4 decades even in coastal areas before you need to refinish it. This resilience is mostly reliant on the thickness and alloy utilized so it would be best to go for the 6000 series aluminum with a 1.25-inch diameter for residential and industrial handrail systems.



One key benefit of aluminum is that it is easy to maintain, thanks to the fact that it needs close to no maintenance, especially if its powder coated or anodized.

Anodizing establishes an oxidation layer on the metal which boosts its scratch and corrosion resistance. Again, powder coating provides a similar protective layer while also adding gloss and color. Therefore, with a top-quality finish on your aluminum handrails, they will look new for over three decades.

But when it comes to stainless steel, they require regular maintenance to endure damage and rust. You will need to recoat stainless steel handrails using varnish or paint after 1-3 years if they are indoors and 6 to 12 months if they are installed outdoors.

The regular maintenance swiftly makes maintaining it tiresome and expensive. 


Which One is Better?

Honestly there is no direct answer for this question. When it comes to design flexibility, long term costs, and low maintenance, aluminum is an excellent option.

On the other hand, if your priority is strength and durability, the stainless-steel handrails are an excellent choice. So, the better option will solely depend on your project’s specific needs.

Feel free to contact us at Weiye Aluminium for all your aluminum handrail requirements.