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May 17, 2022

What gets hotter – aluminium or timber?

We are here to end the great debate: what gets hotter – aluminium or timber? The answer may surprise you.


When sourcing seating for your park, many things need to be considered, and one of them is comfortability. One of the factors that affect this, especially in Australia, is how hot the seat battens get. The top material choices are aluminium and timber, but which one is better?


Aluminium vs Timber


Aluminium is the most commonly used material for public space furniture due to its durability, sustainability and low maintenance. It does not rust and can be powder coated, or wrapped in TimberImage, a sublimation process to achieve a timber-like appearance.


Despite this, timber remains a very popular choice for park furniture due to its natural look and feel. It is also a sustainable option when correctly sourced, though does require more maintenance than aluminium.


So what gets hotter? Here’s the results


Using a thermal imaging camera, our Innovations Manager tested 4 different extrusions: anodized aluminium, powder coated aluminium, TimberImage aluminium and hardwood oiled timber. We measured their temperatures after a period of time of being exposed to full sun, which can be viewed in Image 1 and Table 1.


Image 1: Heat Map (extrusions Left to Right: powder coated, TimberImage, anodized, timber)


Our testing showed that timber attains a higher temperature when exposed to direct sunlight compared to aluminium. But it does not necessarily mean it’s hotter to touch. This is because Timber has slow heat conduction and transfer, meaning that it heats slower and takes longer to cool down. Whereas aluminium has fast heat conduction, which means it heats up fast but cools down just as quick. So, though it may feel hotter to touch at first, it will cool down fast when it comes in contact with another surface.


Our results reflected this, with Timber showing a higher temperature than any of the forms of aluminium by a minimum of 0.9 degrees (see Table 1 below).



Table 1: Extrusion temperatures after being exposed to full sun.


These results are not significantly different, so when it comes to choosing what seating works best for your public space, you can’t really go wrong. The best thing you can do, no matter what seating choice you make, is to place your park furniture in the shade to create a more comfortable experience for park users.