How Much Does Aluminium Decking Cost?
What are the advantages and drawbacks of aluminium decking?
Aluminium decking systems, they’re robust, they’re non-combustible and they’re often required to be used on the balconies of high-rise buildings. This, I’m pretty sure, you already know. But how much does it cost? You’ve maybe spoken to a few sales teams that guarantee they are the best out there and that you won’t get a better deal elsewhere, maybe it’s a requirement on your next project and you want a run-down of how to cost control, or maybe you’re about to start tendering for it and want to be able to understand where the costs come from. Well, we are here to help.
Usually, aluminium decking is installed due to its non-combustibility and durability meaning it often complies with or exceeds building regulations and therefore any implementation of aluminium decking needs careful review. To give you an exact figure without understanding the details of your project would be irresponsible and misleading because of the many unique factors that can influence the price. These can take the form of many things such as additional components needed, different height build-ups required or different quality of finishes. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t find a simple answer. So how do you get a good estimate of prices?
It must be said now that to get accurate prices you really need to speak to an expert. They know what they are talking about and will be able to consider the different factors affecting your build and be able to give you the exact price complete with all the accessories you will need.
But you’re not here for that, you’re here to understand! So let us guide you through the topic so you can understand it further. In this article, you will learn what drives the cost of aluminium decking up and down, why prices might differ between different suppliers, and you’ll get an honest taster price of a few different aluminium systems so you can be informed next time you’re looking to make an order.
Why does Aluminium Decking cost what it does?
Well, there are quite a few factors that influence the price and drive it up and down, but here is a run-down of the main few.
Trading price of materials
Let’s start with what drives the cost up. Looking at the most basic element of an aluminium decking system, the initial driver of cost is the prices of the materials. As part of the London Metal Exchange, the price per tonne of Aluminium differs from day to day based on a variety of influences including supply and political climates. This won’t affect the day-to-day price of Aluminium but big shifts in the cost per tonne will likely end up changing the price of the finished product. You probably wouldn’t see big shifts in the cost of aluminium decking straight away, it could be a few months before it affects the price of finished goods. Now, unless you are a government with a substantial impact on the supply of aluminium, we certainly aren’t, then this cost of materials isn’t likely something you can control so let’s look at something closer to home
Where the decking is installed
The price of a system with aluminium decking is going to change the most whether it is installed on a terrace or a balcony. With a terrace, the system needs to be raised off the substrate and this is done using pedestals to support the joists under the rails and shock pads under the pedestals which will cost more than a system directly attached to a metal frame balcony. Similarly, the installation of a first and second-storey balcony will cost significantly less than that of a 60th-floor balcony as you will undoubtedly be aware. These balconies or terraces that are in a location susceptible to high winds may also need a wind uplift solution which creates an added layer of protection to the system to stop it from being damaged by high winds
What about board spans?
This would be the major influence of price if you are buying aluminium boards on their own. The premise is simple, and it works like this: the larger the gap between the permissible board spans (intervals at which the board needs to be supported), the fewer joists or pedestals are required, therefore, resulting in lower overall cost.
The make-up of a decking system
If you are installing an aluminium decking system, it is usually built up using these standard components: decking boards, joists, screws and fixings, and pedestals. If you take this as a standard system, this can be placed on most terraces and will create a fully supported standing system. However, if you attach it directly onto a metal-framed balcony, you can begin to swap out the pedestals for joist cleats or hangers which will begin to bring the cost down. In some applications, joist supports can be removed altogether, or more cost-efficient joists can be used if fully supported by the balcony steel. Additionally, you need to consider the height build-up. If you are looking for a large height build-up or even a very small height build-up, these may come with additional charges for specialist products i.e., low-height joists or extra-large pedestals.
With a balcony, what can drive the cost up even further is choosing your system after the balcony has been designed. This may seem simple but to minimise the cost of unnecessary joists and materials, it is best to understand the system you are looking to use and its parameters. If you design the balcony to match the system you can size it to maximise the efficiency of the joists as the boards will need to be supported at certain intervals.
This can mean that done with good planning, aluminium decking installed onto balconies can often be cheaper than terraces. This does change slightly depending on the place of installation. Balcony systems that can be made offsite and craned into place can take less time to install and decrease the cost of installation.
Bespoke systems and upgrades
We are often talking of the finish of the system. Sure, you have a robust subsystem, but you need to make sure the finish complements your design. Depending on how you want it you may be able to get specific finishes that mimic wood or provide an extra grippy walking surface. You can also add extras such as bespoke flashing details, brackets, and step designs. These finishes will likely start to raise the price depending on how premium they are.
Why does the cost of aluminium decking change from supplier to supplier?
So, if all the factors we have gone through affect the price of the materials and the systems you use, you could be forgiven for not completely understanding the often-sizable differences in price between different suppliers. Why is it that two companies offering very similar products quote completely different prices?
Like with every product, there will be the usual price changes between suppliers due to things like desired profit margins, market placement and internal costs. But these aren’t specific to aluminium decking boards by any stretch of the imagination.
Where do the materials come from
Suppliers can choose to have their products manufactured in different countries around the world and this will inevitably begin to create gaps in pricing. Due to different capabilities and supplies, decking distributors can either decide to be supplied locally or from further afield. Decking coming from abroad is often cheaper to manufacture and supply than local aluminium decking and this can lead to some companies being able to lower their cost for the company.
The quality of the materials and products
These are obvious but well worth bearing in mind. a supplier who uses high-quality materials and processes such as powder coating will inevitably need to sell at a higher price point. That’s generally accepted as truth across most industries, and this is no different for the supply of Aluminium decking. Some suppliers focus on high-end, top-quality products with no expense spared and others will be able to provide a product that works well but lacks that superior essence. A good way to determine whether you are correctly paying for the quality you believe is to check the warranty and design life. A better-quality product should inevitably have a longer design life and warranty. Another easy way to test the quality is to request a sample. It’s so simple and most suppliers will offer this as standard. Request a sample and run your own tests. We aren’t saying to hire a lab to run scientific experiments on the sample, but you can feel the quality, walk on it, and test its grip and strength. Getting a sample doesn’t mean it has to sit there and look pretty, a sample is there for you to get to know the product.
Research and development
Yes, every product must be designed in some way but, some are designed to be similar copies of existing products and others are designed to answer a specific question. Those products that answer a specific question will need a research and development department working on these answers. This does inevitably increase the cost as you might expect due to more work going into the background of the product. But it does also mean that the boards and systems have been designed to fulfil a certain purpose that suppliers who do not desire to answer questions may not be tackling to the fullest. These specially designed products will come with testing certification to prove that the due diligence has been carried out and that the products meet the required standards.
So, how much does it cost?
Enough about the factors affecting the price. Whilst it can be interesting it’s pretty likely you were already familiar with each of the points in some form. But think about if we had just said “this is the cost” you would have the answer but would you have really understood why? You would probably be able to draw up some good guesses if you sat down and thought about it but how is that helpful?
Here they are, honest ballpark ranges of what you could expect to pay for an Aluminium decking and a system in a variety of scenarios. Please bear in mind that these prices will differ depending on your specific project and do not include the cost of installation.
1. Aluminium Decking boards only £95-£125/m2
2. Aluminium Decking on a waterproofed substrate – incl. substructure £130-£140/m2
3. Aluminium Decking on a metal frame balcony – incl. substructure £130-£150/m2
What does it all mean?
Whether you are looking for aluminium decking or a system for a terrace or a balcony it’s always good to have an idea of pricing to help you choose what’s best for you. Although we can give you the ballpark costs, you really won’t be able to fully understand the cost until you speak with an expert. But to be able to make an informed decision on which product you want to use, it is good to be forearmed with the knowledge of what makes the prices what they are.
There are some things such as project constraints and materials pricing that are out of your influence. But there are parts that you can control. Such as designing a balcony to match the system to maximise efficiency, choosing a finish and deciding on your supplier.
There you have it: the cost of aluminium decking.