The good news?
An aluminum greenhouse frame is light and easy to handle.
It won’t rust like steel. It won't rot like wood. It won't degrade from the effects of sunlight like plastic.
The bad news?
Aluminum is not a perfect material for greenhouse frames. But then nothing really is.
Let's examine how aluminum stacks up in five key areas...
Appearance is one area where an aluminum frame shines (literally).
But appearance really comes down to a matter of personal preference. In the eyes of some, wood may offer superior aesthetics. Others might prefer the bright, shiny look of an aluminum greenhouse frame.
Many do prefer the look of an aluminum-framed greenhouse, though.
And certainly, the appearance of aluminum is a major reason that many of the more popular hobby greenhouse kits use aluminum for the greenhouse frame.
Aluminum gets a big ‘thumbs down’ for this category. Aluminum is arguably the most expensive material used for greenhouse frames.
Wood is the only other material commonly used for greenhouses that may, in some cases, rival or exceed the cost of aluminum (depending upon the type of wood and the design of the greenhouse or kit).
Aluminum is light and easy to handle – another reason it’s often used in greenhouse kits.
Most greenhouse kits will come with holes pre-drilled. But if you should have to drill any holes in your greenhouse frame, you’ll find it to be an easy task if your frame is made of aluminum. Because aluminum is not only light, it’s also a relatively soft metal.
Compared to drilling a hole through steel, drilling through aluminum is like drilling through butter.
This is another big plus for aluminum-framed greenhouses.
In fact, aluminum might be the most durable of greenhouse framing materials. Wood can rot; steel can rust; and plastics can eventually be degraded by sunlight.
But although aluminum can eventually corrode, an aluminum-framed greenhouse is likely to last for a very long time.
Of course, given the proper protection, other greenhouse framing materials can last for a very long time, too. But the durability provided by aluminum is virtually maintenance free (though paint is still a good idea).
Aluminum doesn’t fare quite so well in this category. Steel is far stronger, and most wooden greenhouse designs are also stronger.
It all depends upon the design and engineering of the greenhouse, of course. But on the whole, aluminum greenhouses just aren’t as strong as steel or wood.
If you’re considering purchasing a greenhouse kit that uses aluminum for the frame, carefully consider the rated strength of the greenhouse.
Be especially cautious if you live in a region that regularly experiences heavy snowfalls. Be certain that your aluminum-framed greenhouse will handle the snow loads that can be expected where you live.
A quality greenhouse kit with an aluminum frame can be absolutely the easiest-to-build DIY greenhouse. And once it’s built, you can expect it to last a long time.
Just do your homework about the strength of the kit before purchasing, and make sure that your greenhouse won’t be pancaked by the first major snowfall you have.
Because even though aluminum is not the strongest of greenhouse framing materials, it does offer many advantages. And that's why aluminum continues to be one of the most popular framing materials for greenhouse construction.