Iron Porch Railing vs Aluminum Porch Railing

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  • 6-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 600-2,000

Whether you decide to install a porch iron railing or aluminum porch railing you need to consider durability, cost, maintenance and the look you wish to achieve. Since iron and aluminum are both metals, in most uses either one can be used successfully.


Porch railing made of iron or aluminum is referred to as metal railing. These metals have some similar characteristics. Metal railings can come in small, lightweight sections that can be worked with to suit many needs. They do not rot or splinter the way wood railing. When metal railing is properly sealed and coated with powder coated paint, it will last more than 20 to 25 years. They are easily manipulated to suit a custom design without a lot of expense. Metal railings can be cast or tubing material. This allows you to select preformed railing or request unique one-of-a-kind designs.


The most common iron used on porch railing is referred to as wrought iron. Wrought is the process of forging iron ore and slags or slivers of metallic iron together. Sometime in 1969, the production of true wrought iron was reduced due to high cost. The iron that is forged today resembles the original wrought iron in appearance but is made of steel. Originally only the very wealthy could afford the luxury of iron railing.

Today, an iron railing is still slightly expensive but affordable. Iron is often paired with wood in a railing to create a warm rich look. Iron is very strong and durable. It is advisable to conduct a yearly inspection of an iron railing for any flaws or deterioration in the powder coating. The first signs of deterioration should be repaired in order to ensure long enjoyment of your investment. Rust is the enemy of iron. While rust will flake off the iron, its chemical compound continues to corrode.


Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth. Aluminum is processed with electricity. It was first processed in 1850 when electricity was very expensive. Its strength comes from the addition of small amounts of copper, magnesium, and silicon. Today, aluminum is the most economical alternative for porch railing. There are wide selections of standard designs along with unlimited possibilities of design. It is durable, weather-resistant and very low maintenance. Aluminum has a protective oxide coating and is made to resist corrosion. It is available in many colors without a need to paint after installation. Color retention without maintenance is a unique characteristic of aluminum.

Iron vs. Aluminum

Your decision to use iron or metal for your porch railing is personal. Both metals will be able to provide the same aesthetic look. An array of color choices is available for both metals. Durability and impact resistance are equal. Quality aluminum generally, will cost slightly less than quality iron. Maintenance may be your determining factor. Regional weather concerns and exposure play a large part in the amount of maintenance and repair that would be required for iron railing.