Aluminum carports and patio covers have become a popular and attractive home improvement option. The product itself has been in use for years. Aluminum is a lightweight and durable material and can be a great alternative to wood or steel structures. Features, colors and styles have evolved over the years to provide homeowners with many choices. Today we discuss the pros and cons of these popular aluminum constructions.
1) Sustainability – My parents have lived in the same house for over 30 years. Their patio cover was installed in the late 1960s and is still standing and functional. This product will stand the test of time with little more than cleaning once a year. Most companies design their units to withstand wind and snow loads. The result is that your patio cover or carport will last for years, despite natural disasters.
2) Attractive – As mentioned above, your carport or patio cover will remain beautiful for years with a little maintenance. The aluminum pans will never rust. There are a variety of colors to choose from and different window styles that should satisfy any homeowner.
3) Structural Simplicity – Due to aluminum’s light weight, a patio cover can be attached directly to your patio slab and carports can be attached directly to your driveway. Attachment to the house also requires minimal anchoring. Note: Some areas require posts to be set in concrete, check with your area’s code department. One of the best advantages of aluminum structures is the minimal drop required for installation. Aluminum carports and patio covers only require ¼” drop/ft. span. A shingled roof requires a minimum of 4″ drop/ft. span, which often creates issues with exterior headroom.
4) Functionality – Very few home improvement projects can offer the quality that an aluminum patio cover or carport can. Patio covers over decks and patios provide escape from direct sunlight and weather, and can make them much more useful and enjoyable. Aluminum carports (freestanding or lean-to) can provide excellent shelter for your vehicles when a garage is not available.
1) Bird Nests – The W-pan aluminum is notorious for attracting birds. There are several plugs that manufacturers offer and it is highly recommended to insist on these during installation. They do come at a cost, but save you the endless hassle of cleaning the pans.
2) Trees – All aluminum carports and patio covers come with built-in gutters and downspouts, if you live in a wooded area in the fall leaves are a constant problem. Because aluminum structures don’t need as much slope on the roof, leaves and debris are more likely to accumulate. The most common problem I see is where this buildup of leaves is left unattended, clogging gutters, accumulating water and eventually causing the panels to bend and leak.
3) Rust on Frame – Most aluminum patio covers and carports are installed with steel bar beams and posts, and although they are painted before installation, natural exposure to the elements will eventually cause the parts to rust (especially when in contact with the ground).
4) Hail – The biggest problem with aluminum carports and patio covers is hail. We replace a number of them every year. Due to aluminum’s light weight, a hailstorm can leave small unattractive dents in the panels. Most homeowners insurance policies will cover this and in most cases, if hail is hard enough, you will have other damage to your home
As a contractor, I have learned to appreciate the functional beauty of aluminum carports and patio covers for years. The advantages of these products far outweigh the disadvantages. Almost all disadvantages can be avoided with simple maintenance.