Frameless Glass Balustrade

Aluminium Or Stainless Steel?

A recent project completed by Origin Architectural highlighted the decision process behind selecting the right material for the job. A glass balustrade installed at a coastal property required just the right metal to deliver the necessary mechanical strength while not rusting in the salt air. Liaising with Righton Blackburns, we settled on 316 grade stainless steel, as this ticked all the boxes for our requirements.

But, what other options are there?

When it comes to metal balustrades or handrails with a modern look, you’re really looking at either Stainless Steel or Aluminium. Both offer great corrosion resistance and a range of suitable grades with their own unique properties.

Stainless Steel

In a safety critical situation, just as overlooking a sharp drop or where it will be under heavy use, stainless steel is the obvious choice due to its higher strength. It’s a much more durable metal than aluminium and the inclusion of chromium in the alloy makes it the most corrosion resistant option, suitable for most atmospheres.

Aesthetically, stainless steel can fit into most design styles, with mirror or satin finish that retains its good looks with minimal maintenance.



Where aluminium excels compared to stainless steel is that it is lightweight and cost-effective. Although not as durable as stainless steel, aluminium is suitable for balustrades and handrails where there isn’t an essential need to resist heavy impacts. The lighter weight makes aluminium easier and quicker to install, and the non-ferrous nature of the metal means it can withstand most environments without treatment or coating.

Where aluminium really shines is the sheer breadth of potential finishes. Aside from polished or brushed metal finishes, aluminium readily takes a range of finishes, from anodising to powder coating, and even sublimation, which gives you an infinite choice of colours and patterns.


In summary

  • Choose stainless steel for: High-traffic areas, harsh environments (outdoors, saltwater), superior strength and durability, or a classic, high-end look.
  • Choose aluminium for: Budget-conscious projects, lighter weight for easier installation, moderate environments (indoors, some outdoor applications), or design flexibility.

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