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How to Choose Between Steel and Aluminium Pergolas

A pergola can be a fantastic addition to any Australian home, providing shade, shelter, and stylish outdoor living space. But with so many options available, how do you choose the best material for your pergola–steel or aluminium? 

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each material, considering factors such as durability, maintenance, and design flexibility to help you make the right choice for your backyard oasis.

1. Durability and Weather Resistance

The Australian climate can be harsh, with intense sun, strong winds, and heavy rain–so it’s essential to choose a pergola material that can withstand these conditions. Here’s how steel and aluminium stack up:

Steel: Steel pergolas are known for their strength and durability. They can easily handle the weight of heavy vines or hanging plants, and they won’t warp or twist in strong winds. However, one drawback of steel is its susceptibility to rust, especially in coastal areas with salty air. This can be mitigated by choosing a galvanised or stainless steel pergola, which has a protective coating to deter rust.

Aluminium: Aluminium pergolas are also highly durable, but they are naturally resistant to rust and corrosion, making them an excellent choice for coastal homes. Aluminium is also lighter than steel, which can make it easier to install and manoeuvre during construction. However, aluminium may not be as strong as steel and might not support heavy loads quite as well.

Winner: Both materials offer excellent durability, but if you live near the coast, aluminium may be the better choice due to its rust resistance.

2. Maintenance

A low-maintenance pergola is essential for busy homeowners who want to spend their weekends enjoying their outdoor space, rather than working on it. Here’s how steel and aluminium compare:

Steel: While steel pergolas are durable, they do require some maintenance to keep them looking their best. Regular inspections for signs of rust or corrosion are necessary, and any affected areas should be treated promptly. Additionally, steel pergolas may need to be repainted every few years to maintain their appearance.

Aluminium: One of the significant benefits of aluminium pergolas is their low maintenance requirements. Aluminium doesn’t rust or corrode, so you won’t need to worry about ongoing inspections or treatments. Plus, the powder-coated finish on most aluminium pergolas means that they won’t need repainting–just a quick hose down every now and then to keep them looking fresh.

Winner: Aluminium takes the crown for low maintenance, making it an excellent choice for those who want a hassle-free pergola.

3. Design Flexibility

A pergola should be a stunning focal point in your garden, so it’s essential to choose a material that offers design flexibility to create your dream outdoor space.

Steel: Steel pergolas can be customised to suit your style, with a wide range of colours and finishes available. They also offer excellent structural flexibility, allowing you to create unique designs or incorporate intricate details. However, steel pergolas can be more expensive to customise due to the cost of materials and fabrication.

Aluminium: Aluminium pergolas also come in various colours and finishes, and their lightweight nature makes them easy to work with for custom designs. However, they may not offer the same level of structural flexibility as steel, which could limit your design options.

Winner: It’s a close call, but steel edges ahead for design flexibility, offering more options for unique and intricate pergolas.

4. Insulation

While insulation may not be a significant concern for indoor spaces in Australia, it’s still an essential factor to consider for your outdoor pergola – especially if you want to stay comfortable during those hot summer months.

Steel: Steel pergolas can be fitted with insulated roofing to help keep your outdoor space cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This can not only make your pergola more comfortable but also help reduce energy costs by minimising the need for air conditioning. However, this added insulation can make steel pergolas more expensive.

Aluminium: While aluminium pergolas can’t be insulated in the same way as steel, there are still options available to improve their insulation properties. For example, you can add a shade cloth or louvred roof to provide shade and ventilation, keeping the space cooler in summer.

Winner: Steel is the winner for insulation, providing more options for custom insulation solutions.


Both steel and aluminium are excellent materials for pergolas, offering different benefits depending on your needs and preferences. Steel may be the better choice if you want a highly customised design with excellent structural flexibility and insulation options. On the other hand, aluminium may be the ideal choice if you live in a coastal area and want a low-maintenance option that is also lightweight and easy to install. Ultimately, the decision comes down to your individual requirements and personal style preferences.

Are you planning to transform your outdoor space into a stunning oasis with a beautiful pergola? Look no further, as Excelfit is here to help you! We specialise in designing and constructing fully engineered pergolas that are not only functional outdoor extensions but can also add value to your property. Our team of experts is committed to delivering the highest level of craftsmanship, quality, and customer satisfaction. Let us take the first step towards creating your dream outdoor living space! Contact us today and schedule a consultation!

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