Here in San Diego, our summers can get hot, which is why a nice patio cover can be so nice. Not only does it add beauty (and value!) to your home, it also gives you cooling shade so you can spend time outside without burning up. When the time is right to add a patio cover to your home, the first big decision you need to make is the material for your patio cover. The two most popular choices are wood patio covers and aluminum patio covers. Here at Best-Rate Repair, we’ve built many wooden and aluminum patio covers for clients all over San Diego and San Diego County. The truth is that each material has its own benefits and drawbacks, and there is no right choice for every homeowner.
Instead, as a homeowner, you need to educate yourself on the good, the bad, and the ugly about each choice and then decide which material is best for you. Here is my take on how each material stacks up in five important categories:
Okay, I have to admit that at heart, I’m a traditionalist. I really do think a wooden patio cover looks great on most homes. You have many different options when choosing wood, so you can pick something light-colored like redwood and pick out different stains or go big with Doug fir using a paintable stain or solid color paint. Also, your patio builder can apply any number of stains to bring out the natural beauty of the wood’s colors and to match it to the color of your home.
Aluminum patio covers also come in a variety of colors, so you have some choices there too.
Here the aluminum patio cover clearly comes out on top. One of the biggest benefits of choosing an aluminum patio cover in my opinion is that you can almost “set it and forget it.” Aluminum patio covers need almost no maintenance except for the occasional cleaning, which you can do by spraying it down with a hose. This material can withstand rain and sunshine and also doesn’t attract termites or suffer from wood rot. When you build an aluminum patio cover, you’ll have many carefree years to enjoy it.
Wood is a different story. In exchange for a natural, beautiful look, you’ll need to understand that wood is an organic material. As such, it does need regular maintenance and upkeep. If your wooden patio cover isn’t sealed and stained, it could be vulnerable to the weather. Heat will bleach it, and rain and humidity could break down the wood over time. To keep the elements at bay, you will need to seal and stain your wood patio cover every few years. Additionally, wood is also at risk of termites and wood rot, so you need to do a close visual inspection for problems every year.
In a side-by-side comparison, aluminum patio covers will most likely outlast wood patio covers, but the overall maintenance required for wood patio covers isn’t all that bad. It may cost you one day every other year or so.
Both a wooden and aluminum patio cover can provide you with glorious shade to keep you cool during the day. Your patio cover builder can also build latticed patio covers using wood or aluminum to give you more sunshine. Beyond this, wood patio covers really stand out and can provide much more utility than most aluminum patio covers.
Wood is strong and sturdy, whereas most aluminum patio covers are much lighter and cannot hold a lot of weight. You can mount heaters, hang plants, and rig electrical fans from your wooden patio covers. This isn’t possible with most aluminum covers without the addition of extra supports. Think about what you want for your patio. If you like the idea of mounted heaters during the cooler fall nights or a lazy breeze overhead from a fan, then your best choice is wood.
This is a tricky category, and defenders of wood and aluminum can each make arguments for why their material of choice is much more eco-friendly than the other. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Wood is a naturally reoccurring resource, and a lot of wood for patio covers in the United States comes from sustainability grown commercial forests. However, detractors will point out that the sealant and stain that help protect and extend the life of wood are harsh chemicals that can hurt the environment.
These same aluminum supporters will explain that aluminum is recyclable, making it an eco-friendly material. What they don’t mention is that aluminum, like all metals, is mined from the earth, which requires a lot of polluting equipment and damage to the land.
So, really, this category is kind of a toss-up.
And finally, we get down to cost, which is what every homeowner really wants to know. Aluminum patio covers are almost always more expensive than wood patio covers, typically running 20% to 30% more. However, keep in mind that aluminum patio covers have a longer life than wood patio covers and require less maintenance, so if you take life expectancy and maintenance cost/time into consideration, aluminum might be a better deal.
If you need to save money in the short term or are just looking for the cheapest option to build a beautiful patio cover, then you’ll want to go with wood. The exact price of your patio cover will depend on the size, the specific type of wood you choose, and if you want any extras.
In all cases, I recommend that you work with a licensed remodeling company to build your patio cover. Trying to save money by building a patio cover on your own could lead to mistakes that will end up costing you far more in the end!
To speak with one of our patio cover experts to determine which patio cover material is best for you, contact Best-Rate Repair today.