What gets hotter – aluminium or timber?

Comfortable, convenient seating maximises enjoyment of our parks, recreational areas and urban environments but a common question from architects and facility managers is: aluminium or timber?

Aluminium’s durability, sustainability and low maintenances make it the most commonly used material for seating in public spaces, but timber is a popular choice for its natural warmth and increasingly sustainable sources.

Still, the answer to which gets hotter in full sun – aluminium or timber seating – may surprise.

An innovations manager from one of our long standing partners- Grillex, recently took up the challenge and measured the temperatures of four different materials and finishes – anodised aluminium, powder-coated aluminium, TimberImage™ aluminium and hardwood oiled timber – after being exposed to direct sunlight.

Thermal imaging revealed that while timber reaches a higher temperature, it was not necessarily hotter to touch compared with aluminium.

Source: Grillex

Timber’s slow heat conduction and transfer means it heats slower and takes longer to cool down, while aluminium heats up fast and cools down just as quick. So, though it may feel hotter to touch at first, it cools quickly when it comes in contact with another surface.

Source: Grillex

When it comes to hard numbers, timber reached a higher temperature than any forms of aluminium, the difference ranging from 0.9 degrees with TimberImage™ to 3.5 degrees with anodised aluminium.

Still, these results are not significantly different. Whether timber or aluminium seating ultimately works best for your public space, place it in a shaded area to maximise comfort whatever the weather.

From classic park benches to contemporary modular designs, in a wide range of materials, our NZ-made range of park and outdoor seating combines style, form and function to help create outdoor spaces where people love to be.

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