Aluminum carports and patio covers have become a popular and attractive home improvement. The product itself has been in use for years. As a light weight and durable material, aluminum can be a great alternative to stick built or steel structures. Features, colors, and styles have evolved over the years to give homeowners many choices. Today we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these popular aluminum structures.
1) Durability – My parents have been living 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 a cleaning once a year. Most companies engineer their units to withstand wind and snow loads. As a result, baring natural weather disasters, your patio cover or carport should give you years of use.
2) Attractive – As stated above with a little maintenance your carport or patio cover will stay looking good for years. The aluminum pans will never rust. There are a variety of colors to choose from and several styles of framework that should satisfy any homeowner.
3) Structural simplicity – Because of the light weight nature of aluminum, a patio cover can be attached directly to your patio slab, and carports can be attached directly to your driveway. Also attachment to the house requires minimal anchoring. Note: some areas may require posts to be set in concrete, check with the codes department in your area. One of the best advantages of Aluminum structures is the minimum fall required for installation. Aluminum carports and patio covers require only ¼” of fall /ft. spanned. A shingled roof requires a minimum of 4″ of fall /ft spanned, which often creates problems with head room on the outside.
4) Functionality – Very few home improvement projects can provide the quality usefulness that an aluminum patio cover or carport can. Patio covers over decks and patios offer escape from direct sun and weather, and can make them much more useful and enjoyable. Aluminum carports (free standing or attached) can provide great 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 you insist on these at the time of installation. They do add cost but will save you from the endless hassle of cleaning out the pans.
2) Trees – All Aluminum carports and patio covers come with built in gutters and downspouts, in the fall if you live in a wooded area leaves are a constant problem. Since aluminum structures do not require as much slope on the roof, leaves and debris is much more likely to accumulate. The most common problem I see is where this accumulation of leaves is left unattended, stopping up gutters, backing up water and ultimately causing the panels to bow and leak.
3) Rust on framework – Most aluminum patio covers and carports are installed with steel bar joists, and posts, and while painted before installation, the natural exposure to the elements will eventually cause the parts to show rust (especially at ground contact)
4) Hail – The single most, problem with aluminum carports and patio covers is hail. We replace several of these each year. Because of the light weight nature of aluminum a hail storm can leave small unattractive dings in the panels. Most homeowners insurance cover this and in most cases if hail is hard enough you will have other damage to your home
As a contractor for many years, I have learned to appreciate the functional beauty of aluminum carports and patio covers. The advantages of these products far out weigh the disadvantages. Almost all the disadvantages can be prevented with simple maintenance.