Four important questions regarding the use of aluminium products in architecture.

How much maintenance does aluminium require?

Aluminium is a low maintenance material with inherent durability. Most architectural aluminium products are additionally pre-treated and coated, allowing them to further endure difficult environments. However, since there is potential for damage when exposed to pollutants and contaminants, periodic cleaning is recommended to preserve the decorative finish almost indefinitely. A simple pressure wash is sufficient for anodised aluminium facades, while a mild detergent solution can be used on powder coated aluminium. 

Always consult a technical consultant at a leading coatings manufacturer such as Dulux or Interpon for project-specific maintenance solutions.

Is fire a concern with aluminium?

Classified as a non-combustible construction material, aluminium is not flammable, but will melt when subjected to temperatures above 600°C. However, this meltdown does not release harmful gases into the air and is in fact, calculated to allow heat and smoke to escape from a burning structure, resulting in less structural damage.

Does aluminium corrode?

Untreated aluminium already resists corrosion admirably because of the thin layer of aluminium oxide that naturally forms on its surface when exposed to air. When it is anodised, the thickness of this protective layer is magnified by several degrees. In severe environments, potential corrosion problems can be managed with proper architectural planning and a pragmatic maintenance program.

Is aluminium durable?

Aluminium is alloyed with (among other elements) magnesium, silicon, and zinc to increase its strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and UV-shielding properties.

In ‘Aluminium and Durability: Towards Sustainable Cities’, Michael Stacey (Chair in Architecture at University of Nottingham, Director of the Architecture + Tectonics Research Group + MSA) uses numerous case studies of buildings, some of them decades old, and concludes that “aluminium-based architecture… is performing well in our towns, cities, and rural landscapes. The durability of this aluminium architecture should be recognised and celebrated.”