A range of metals and materials can be used for mesh flooring, decking, grating, balconies and industrial flooring. However, there are a number of compelling reasons why aluminium grilles are the most suitable choice for these types of architectural applications. Many of them represent clear advantages over one of aluminium’s main rivals, GRP (glass reinforced plastics).
Greater durability and lower maintenance
One of aluminium’s great strengths is its durability – a vital attribute in industrial environments. Unlike many other metals, it’s corrosive-free (with time it will generate a protective oxide film coating giving excellent resistance to corrosion) so you don’t need to be concerned about deterioration through rust. For decking and balcony flooring it’s a far more durable solution than timber, which is prone to rotting and fluctuations in temperature which cause it to expand and contract, thereby damaging its fabric. Aluminium is an inert metal. It’s non-toxic, non-combustible and completely impermeable. These many qualities add up to a virtually maintenance-free installation for all types of mesh flooring.
Unlike GRP, aluminium is ideally suited to precision engineering which means that bespoke sizes, profiles and features can be manufactured to incorporate special performance requirements such as anti-slip surfaces. Mesh flooring designs can be developed to maximise drainage capability with a combination of open and closed construction – for example, Neaco’s Neatdek system has a T-bar grille profile (left) which has a 74% contact area yet disperses water quickly and efficiently. In balcony applications, this avoids the need for drainpipes and soffits, saving on cost whilst enabling a more minimalist aesthetic.
Aluminium is stronger than materials such as GRP and requires less steelwork to support it – again contributing to a more minimalist aesthetic. Aluminium is 1/3 of the weight of steel but has excellent load-bearing capability. Its structural efficiency can be further enhanced by applying clever design and the aforementioned precision engineering: Neaco’s systems feature a patented swage-locked construction which passes the swage bar through the load bar without cutting into the top or bottom edge, thus providing a mash flooring panel of great rigidity and strength.
Superior colour retention
Aluminium retains its colour extremely well, unlike GRP which is prone to bleaching with prolonged exposure to sunlight. You can install aluminium grilles in exposed locations in the knowledge that in years to come they won’t undergo a gradual transformation in appearance which is at odds with the rest of your building. Aluminium’s aesthetically pleasing properties can be further enhanced with powder coating.
Avoidance of moss
One of aluminium’s clearest advantages over materials such as timber and GRP is the absence of moss and lichen. Wood is prone to the spread of spores and so is GRP as it contains elements of timber. As well as being unsightly, this can be dangerous as moss and lichen create an extremely slippery surface.
Aluminium’s combination of attributes makes it one of the most eco-friendly metals. It’s 100% recyclable, with no downgrading of its properties, and very little energy is required for re-melting. Aluminium has a high residual value, so it provides better environmental performance across the lifecycle of a building. Being 1/3 the weight of steel means it’s easy to handle, thereby saving on manpower. If you choose aluminium (or other metal) flooring, make sure that its construction requires no welding or hot works for assembly, thereby reducing noise, mess and energy consumption on site. Neaco’s systems are designed to provide this with a fast, efficient ‘dry’ installation which also reduces time spent on site.