Patio covers are an easy way to add sophistication to your backyard. You’ll also receive protection from the elements when enjoying the outdoors, improved furniture life, and an improvement in your design elements. This structure gives more accessibility to your patio too, which creates a bridge between your indoor and outdoor living experiences.
There are two options to consider if you’re looking at a patio cover today: Alumawood and regular wood.
When you compare Alumawood vs wood patio covers, you will find several pros and cons to consider. The lattice covers made from the brand name offer a visual aesthetic which is similar to that of regular wood, but with the added improvement of being more resistant to the elements without being overly expensive.
Here are the critical points of comparison to review.
List of the Pros of Alumawood vs Wood Patio Covers
1. Alumawood comes with a better warranty.
Alumawood is aluminum which is manufactured in such a way that it replicates the look and feel of a regular wood patio cover. It is painted and embossed to increase its resilience to your local weather conditions. This results in a low-maintenance shade cover which will outlast the pressure-treated wood used for traditional covers.
It is such a durable product that Amerimax, its manufacturer, backs the product with a limited lifetime warranty. Even if a defect is discovered 15 years after the installation, repairs and refinishing work (or replacement) is possible with a labor and/or shipping charge. If a valid warranty claim occurs after 16 years, you’ll receive a 50% refund of the original wholesale cost of the item.
2. Alumawood is a waterproof product.
Because Alumawood is manufactured aluminum, caring for the product is easy. If the patio cover gets dirty, then you can just hose it off. The covers are put together with a gentle slope that moves away from your home. That means any precipitation you receive will funnel away from the structure. If you connect it to your home, then they’ll slope toward your gutter and collection system to prevent flooding issues.
If you do experience dripping or leaks once the Alumawood patio cover is installed, then some extra flashing or caulking will typically resolve the problem. Issues with water movement are resolved without charge during the first year after purchase.
3. Alumawood does not rot like wood.
If you purchase pressure-treated lumber to create your wood patio cover, then the product will have a useful life of about 10 to 20 years. The warranty period is much shorter for the wood too, while a 1996 study published in Forest Products Journal on the use of pressure treatment for wood suggests that the degradation of wood used in outdoor applications begins in as little as 24 months.
That’s why Alumawood is a superior option. It does not rot like wood does because it isn’t an organic product. You’ll still get something which looks like wood, which you and your guests will love, but without the same care and maintenance costs over the product’s lifetime.
4. Alumawood does not rust.
The only steel products used in the Alumawood patio coves are the screws which hold it together. These items are either galvanized to prevent corrosion, painted, or installed inside the product to receive moisture production. You can choose from a variety of different colors with this product, including sand, white, grey, or beige. Each authorized retailer for this product can take you through the available selections.
Although you have multiple color options with a wood patio cover too, one must apply paint or stain to the product. That color will eventually fade, whereas the Alumawood product continues to look strong all year long.
5. Alumawood patio covers are designed to be built to code.
All the patio covers manufactured using Alumawood are designed with the Uniform Building Code in mind. The building process follows the specifications recommended in the engineering plans created by the vendor of the product. These plans are ICBO-approved. They also meet the building codes of every state in the U.S. at the time of this writing.
Some cities have specific building codes that may prevent aluminum construction, especially in larger communities, so check with the appropriate office first about what you can or cannot do.
6. Alumawood withstands heavy wind conditions.
When an Alumawood patio cover is correctly installed, then it will withstand winds that reach at least 115 miles per hour. Some models can withstand wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. That means your cover could withstand the winds of a Category 4 hurricane if one blew over your property.
Some wood patio covers receive a similar wind rating, although their ability to withstand windspeeds of up to 150 miles per hour is with a three-second gust only.
7. Alumawood offers a lot of flexibility.
Because you’re working with manufactured aluminum for your patio cover, you’ll find that this product offers more flexibility when compared to wood. That means you’re no longer forced to stick with short spans and simple designs for your final product. The Alumawood covers longer spans without requiring additional post reinforcements, size changes, or other adjustments that wood needs for a successful installation. That means you can cover a larger deck with a potentially lower cost with this product option.
8. Alumawood comes in several different gauges.
There are various thickness levels available when you choose an Alumawood patio cover, just as there are if you were to select wood for this project. You can opt for whatever gauge of metal necessary to complete your final design. Each patio cover should be built to the specifications listed in the engineering tables with upgrades placed wherever needed to accommodate the requirements of your property. You can choose whatever gauge you want, assuming it meets the minimum building standards of the vendor, as those are based on the international building codes.
9. Alumawood allows you to hang lights or plants from it.
Most potted plants or lights will not put undue stress on an Alumawood patio cover. The 3×8 pieces, or even the 2×6 slats, are strong enough to support a 50-pound potted plant with relative ease. Because this is an aluminum product, however, any movement of your additional installations can create premature wear-and-tear on the cover that is challenging to correct when compared to wood. You should work with an aluminum-based hanger to prevent scraping and premature fading.
10. Alumawood provides plenty of shade.
You can choose to have a solid ceiling cover with an Alumawood product to receive complete shade and protection when heading outside. You can opt for a lattice cover with short spacing that offers 50% shade when the sun is overhead, but over 90% shade for most of the day. You can also increase or decrease the spacing in your design based on the amount of shade you wish to receive with this installation.
11. Alumawood patio covers weigh less.
The weight of an Alumawood patio cover is much less than that of a wood product, with a final weight of about 125 pounds for most designs. When treated boards for wood are fully dry, you can expect a weight of about 0.25 pounds per cubic foot. That means you receive a product which is lightweight, easy to manage, simple to maintain, and it will last a lot longer than even the best pressurized wood. That’s why many homeowners look at this option as a prime investment when upgrading their property.
List of the Cons of Alumawood vs Wood Patio Covers
1. Alumawood costs more than most wood patio covers when installed.
You can expect a price of anywhere between $12 to $20 per square foot installed when you choose an Alumawood patio cover for your home. Most wood patio covers are going to be cheaper to install for you. The only exceptions would be if you purchased a cedar or a redwood product for your cover, as these are more expensive per square foot installed.
That means a standard 20 feet by 20 feet patio cover using Alumawood could cost up to $8,000, depending on the labor costs charged in your location.
2. Alumawood requires a building permit.
Before you begin the installation of an Alumawood patio cover, you must check with the city’s building department to determine if permits are needed for the work. Some cities do require a permit for a patio cover, while others sometimes need one if it reaches a certain size. If you live in San Diego, CA for example, then you would need a permit if the patio cover is over 300 square feet in size.
Some homes can replace an existing patio cover with Alumawood products using the existing permit they have. If you’re not sure about this potential disadvantage, then check with your local contractor or vendor to see if one must be obtained.
3. Alumawood may not be approved by your HOA.
Homeowners’ Associations do not always approve of the use of an aluminum patio cover. You must read through your rules to determine what is currently permitted on your property. Older HOAs sometimes have a rule which states that no aluminum patio covers are allowed at all because of the old corrugated products used in generations before. You might be able to change the rules by showing them how Alumawood looks when completed, but do not start a project if there is a rule against it because that may encourage large fines, or even a lien, against your property.
4. Alumawood does not support the weight of a porch swing.
If you like the idea of having a porch swing underneath your new Alumawood patio cover, then you’re going to be out of luck. Only pressure-treated wood of an appropriate thickness is suitable for this property need. Some consumers have successfully hung swings from 3/8-inch Alumawood rafters in the past, but this action is not supported by the manufacturer or its authorized dealers.
If you were to damage your new patio cover by installing a swing, it could void your warranty.
5. Alumawood makes more noise when it rains.
The one issue that bothers even Alumawood patio cover owners is that the metal creates an impact sound whenever it rains. Despite installers suggesting that the sound could lull you to sleep, this noise is greater than what you’d encounter with a wood cover. It would be like the difference of rain falling on an asphalt roof compared to it coming down on one made of metal. There are some people who will find this disadvantage to be bothersome and disruptive.
These Alumawood vs. wood patio covers pros and cons offer a comparative perspective when choosing something new for your background. You can get the benefits of aluminum while enjoying the look of wood. If it bothers you that this product doesn’t offer real wood for your cover, then it may not be right for you. If you want a patio cover which provides long-term durability and low maintenance requirements, then speak with your local authorized dealer for an estimate.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.