3 Crowd-Favorite Materials for Handrails and Their Pros and Cons

Commercial buildings, such as resorts, condominiums, and office buildings, require high-quality railing and custom hand rails for safety purposes. Architects and contractors must choose the right materials to ensure these features function properly and provide the necessary protection. Additionally, in some cases, the material used must also be aesthetically pleasing.

When it comes to selecting railing materials, there are various options available in the market. Outlined below are three of the most prevalent choices:


One of the most popular options in the market today is aluminum railing. Aluminum is a naturally occurring metal that is widely used in commercial applications due to its lower density compared to other metals like steel. Here are some pros and cons to consider when choosing aluminum custom hand rails:


  • Cost-effective: One of the biggest advantages of aluminum railing is that it is cost-effective. It is a much more affordable option compared to other material types. The cost of aluminum railing varies from $7.3 USD to $12.19 USD per foot.
  • Long-lasting: Aluminum railings are long-lasting, as they are not prone to corrosion or deterioration like other railing materials. If cleaned and maintained properly, powder-coated aluminum railings can last up to 20 to 40 years.
  • Low-maintenance: Aluminum railings require minimal maintenance. They do not rust or flake as aluminum is a non-ferrous material. Cleaning aluminum railings is a straightforward process as it only involves soap and water. To safeguard the material from saltwater and air, powder coating proves to be an efficient protective measure.
  • Easy installation: Installation of aluminum railings is a hassle-free process that does not need the use of heavy machinery. The lightweight nature of aluminum makes it easy to transport to construction sites. There is even an easy-to-assemble aluminum railing kit available, making it a fun DIY project.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: A powdered coating option is available for aluminum railings, which enhances their shine and shields them from environmental elements. It is available in a variety of colors to match the interior décor of your house.


  • Expensive: The main disadvantage of using aluminum for railings is that it is more expensive than steel.
  • Prone to denting and scratching: Aluminum railings are also more prone to denting and scratching than steel. However, this can be avoided with proper installation and maintenance.


Steel and cement are some of the most popular building materials in the construction industry. Among the various metals used in industrial applications, steel stands out because of its strength and versatility. Steel is denser than most other metals, which makes it strong enough to support heavy loads. This is why it is commonly used for industrial staircases, egress stairs, and stair stringers. However, one of the main challenges of using steel is its tendency to rust. This means that fabricators must use stainless steel in scenarios where the metal will be exposed to external conditions. To make steel more rust-resistant, nitrogen, nickel, molybdenum, and chromium are incorporated into it.

Steel railings are commonly used for staircases and balconies. Below are some of the pros and cons of using steel railings.


  • Cost: The cost of steel railings ranges from $4.88 USD to $14.63 USD per foot, depending on the grade of steel used. Stainless steel is costlier, but it requires less maintenance.
  • Life: Compared to wood railings, steel railings possess greater tensile strength, which makes them more robust and stable. They can withstand heavy loads without sustaining any damage. With proper maintenance, steel railings can definitely last a lifetime.
  • Maintenance: The degree of maintenance required for steel railings varies according to the steel grade used. Stainless steel demands relatively lower maintenance than other metals. Low-grade steel is more susceptible to corrosion. Over time, the paint on steel railings may flake, which means it needs repainting. In case of dirt accumulation, a quick wipe with a damp cloth is all it takes to restore them to their original state. Steel does not bend, warp, or crack. Steel railings can endure inclement weather.
  • Aesthetics: The use of steel railing gives a structure a modern, sleek, and minimalist appearance, with stainless steel being a well-loved option for many contemporary homes due to its lustrous surface. Steel railings combine seamlessly with glass or wires, adding to their visual appeal without overcomplicating the design. Nonetheless, there is limited scope for customization in steel railing design.


  • High temperatures: Steel can buckle and weaken in high temperatures.
  • Cost: Compared to other materials like wood, steel railings may come at a higher cost.
  • Installation: Steel railings are heavy and difficult to install. Transportation and handling sometimes require heavy items. The installation of steel balustrades requires the expertise of skilled welders. Given the weight and intricacy of the installation process, it is advisable to engage the services of professionals for the installation of steel railings.


Glass railings have become increasingly popular in commercial settings, such as resorts and stadiums, but they are also a common feature in many modern residential designs. Despite their popularity, some people still hesitate to use glass railings due to safety concerns. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of glass railings to help you make an informed decision.


  • Provides a Safe Barrier While Not Blocking the View: One of the most significant advantages of glass railings is their ability to provide a safety barrier without obstructing the view. This feature is especially useful for properties with beautiful views, such as oceanfront homes or mountain cabins.
  • Makes a Room Appear Larger: Glass railings allow natural light to filter through, creating a brighter, more spacious feel to the room. This feature is particularly useful in small spaces where every square foot counts.
  • Acts as a Wind Barrier When Used Outdoors: Glass railings can act as a wind barrier when used outdoors, making them an ideal choice for balconies and decks.
  • Easy to Maintain: Glass railings do not require much upkeep. They are durable and resistant to wear and cracking. Regular cleaning with soap and water will restore them to their original condition.


  • Must Be Cleaned Regularly: Glass railings can quickly accumulate dirt and fingerprints, which can affect their aesthetic appeal. To maintain their pristine appearance, it is crucial to clean them regularly.
  • Can Cause Mishaps: Glass railings are transparent and can pose a safety hazard, especially for birds, animals, and people who may collide with them.
  • Relatively Heavy: Glass is relatively heavy and, if not handled properly, can crack during installation. For this reason, it is best to have glass railings installed by a professional.
  • Cost: Glass railings are more expensive than other types of railings. Toughened or tempered glass, which is necessary for high safety, is even more expensive.

Final Thoughts

The market offers numerous options of railing materials suitable for commercial projects, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a railing material, it is important to take into account factors such as cost, life, maintenance, installation, and aesthetics. Hopefully, this guide has provided useful insights to facilitate your decision-making process when selecting suitable railing material.

Richard Maxwell

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