20 Nov Alfresco Floors’ Guide to Aluminium Decking
Aluminium External Decking
Aluminium is a popular and well-used material in the construction industry due to its numerous benefits. It is strong, durable, lightweight and corrosion-resistant. It is also visually attractive, providing a modern and sleek finish to any external flooring project. Importantly, aluminium is a sustainable option due to being 100% recyclable.
There are many materials you could choose to build an external flooring application, from porcelain, concrete and natural stone. But when it comes to sheer durability, zero to low maintenance, and easy installation, aluminium decking is hard to beat.
Aluminium decking is a great choice for specification especially on specified attachments such as balconies, walkways, terraces, and roof gardens. This is due to the fact aluminium is naturally fire-resistant and non-combustible and is, therefore, Class A-rated, meaning it is safe and legal for residential buildings above 18m in height.
In this guide to aluminium decking:
- 8 Benefits of Aluminium External Decking
- How Is Aluminium Decking Tested for Fire Rating?
- Non-Combustible Aluminium Decking
- Non-Combustible Vs Fire Resistant Decking
- Class A Fire Rated Aluminium Decking
- Aluminium Decking for Balconies
- Aluminium Slip Resistant Decking
- Sustainable Aluminium Floor Decking
- Aluminium External Decking from Alfresco Floors
- Aluminium Subframe for Decking
8 Benefits of Aluminium External Decking
There are many options you can choose when specifying an external flooring application, so why is aluminium decking such a good choice?
- Low Weight: Aluminium is one of the lightest building materials available. This reduces risk during construction and makes repairs easier.
- Strength: Aluminium is very strong, especially in comparison to other comparable flooring materials. And despite how tough aluminium it, it has retained flexibility, meaning it is super versatile.
- Eco-Friendly: Aluminium has fantastic green credentials as it can be manufactured from recycled materials, as well as recyclable at the end of its life.
- Durability: Aluminium is highly resistant to wear and tear, so no scuffing or scratches.
- Weather Resistant: Resilient against rust and corrosion, aluminium will retain its shine and veneer. Paired with an appropriate powder coating, aluminium’s longevity will impress your clients, customers and tenants.
- Good Traction: With most other materials, you will have to add traction with rubberised outdoor rugs or something similar. Most Aluminium decking comes with traction ribbing built right into the surface of the planks, so there is no need.
- Thermal Conductor: In the hotter months, aluminium will not retain heat like wood or other metals will. Aluminium is one of the coolest decking options on the market. This is also part of the reason aluminium is a highly non-combustible decking option.
- A-rated Flooring: Aluminium decking is non-combustible so 100% fireproof. A-Rated (Euroclass) aluminium decking will never contribute to the spread of flame.
How Is Aluminium Decking Tested for Fire Rating?
Fire Classification in the UK
When testing for fire classification for materials, they will be categorised as ‘non-combustible, ‘limited combustibility’ and ‘combustible’.
To meet UK regulations, products must undertake the BS 476 group of tests which can be achieved through the National Classes. However, most construction materials also need a CE mark. This means that products must also be graded through the Euroclass system.
These fire safety tests are designed to identify the combustibility, burnability, and smoke ability of a material:
1. EN ISO 1182:2010 – Non-combustibility test
2. EN ISO 1716:2018 – Determination of the gross heat of combustion (calorific value)
3. EN ISO 9239-1 – Radiant panel test
4. EN ISO 11925-2 – Single-flame source test/ignitability test
To view each individual test in more detail, head over to this comprehensive blog post on how materials are tested for fire rating here.
Non-Combustible Aluminium Decking
Aluminium is naturally non-combustible due to the fact that – as a metal – it can safely encounter high temperatures and fire. Aluminium when heated will not produce flames or smoke.
In terms of the Euroclass fire-rating system, aluminium as a natural material would be given a Class A rating.
However, aluminium decking can only be non-combustible if the whole decking system is fire-tested, including the joists, deck boards, and any coatings and deemed so. There are a number of ways that manufacturers can actually decrease the fire rating of their aluminium decking.
For example, coatings or rubber on the aluminium decking can be combustible and therefore the decking will not be fire A-rated. However, sometimes these extras are necessary in order to provide safe anti-slip use as well as prolong the aluminium’s longevity. In these scenarios, it is important to choose an aluminium decking that maintains a Class A fire-rating, even with these additions.
Non-Combustible Vs Fire Resistant Decking
It is important to specify the correct materials that are safe from the beginning of any new construction project. This includes making sure the materials meet the building regulations that apply to that project. Different regulations require different levels of fire safety, whether completely non-combustible or just fire-resistant.
Based on the results of fire testing, materials can be provided with an A, B, C, D, E, or F rating. Materials that are rated B or below are considered combustible and offer increasing degrees of flammability.
In order to earn a non-combustible Class A ranking, materials cannot burn or spread flames when exposed to fire. These A-rated materials are then further divided into A1 or A2. The difference between these materials is A2 has the potential to produce smoke and droplets whereas A1 will not. Class-A rated materials include concrete, aluminium, porcelain, and natural stone.
In comparison, fire-resistant materials have the potential to burn in the event of a fire. In addition, they may even combust and further spread the flames. While these materials should not greatly contribute to a fire, they are not permitted in high rise buildings due to UK fire regulations.
Class A Fire Rated Aluminium Decking
In the UK, all high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres in height must specify non-combustible decking for the external flooring on specified attachments (such as balconies and roof gardens) that is A1 or A2 fire rated.
Aluminium decking is naturally Class A1 fire rated, which makes it a good option for high rise external decking. The metal is able to withstand high temperatures, which can provide firefighters more time in the unfortunate event of a fire.
Alfresco Floors offers aluminium decking that is available in three powder-coated colours. The powder coating offers higher thermal conductivity, which makes it a cooler surface to walk on in hot weather.
Alfresco Floors aluminium decking is A2-rated due to the coating applied on the final product. A2 is in the same ‘non-combustible’ category and therefore is permissible in residential high rise buildings. With minimal smoke production, if exposed to flames, it is still incredibly safe to use on specified attachments in high rise buildings.
In addition to the deck boards, non-combustible adjustable pedestals should also be specified.
Aluminium Decking for Balconies
Balconies can be a real selling feature of an apartment, hotel, restaurant or office space. But when it comes to specifying safe and effective products for your balcony project, it, unfortunately, doesn’t just come down to the aesthetics.
As addressed above, the UK Building Fire Regulations require any building and specified attachment on residential buildings above 18 metres in height to be Class A fire rated (non-combustible). Therefore, close consideration must be paid to the materials you specify for your external flooring project.
For your aluminium balcony decking, you must choose a suitable non-combustible product that is attractive and versatile. The decking system, including the decking joists and deck boards, must be fit-for-purpose and fire-rated. Obtaining a fully aluminium decking system with a joist subframe and adjustable pedestals will save you time and money while streamlining your process.
Alfresco Floors offers complete external flooring solutions that meet your project’s needs. We have A-rated decking pedestals that are specifically engineered to work with any of our A-rated flooring materials.
When you turn to Alfresco Floors, you will find all of the products you need to efficiently install approved fire-rated flooring that meets the UK government’s current regulations.
Aluminium Slip Resistant Decking
Untreated, aluminium is very smooth. When used as a flooring application, this can present a considerable slip hazard, particularly if the decking will be vulnerable to surface moisture/precipitation.
Aluminium decking can be made slip-resistant in a variety of ways, from applying a non-slip material to the surface of the aluminium or by incorporating a specialist coating during the manufacturing stage.
Using some form of rubber insert integrated into the aluminium deck board can provide slip resistance and is ideal for ground-floor applications. However, if you want to specify aluminium deck board on your high-rise project, we recommend using an aluminium deck board with an anti-slip coating as this option is non-combustible.
At Alfresco Floors, we use a unique coating system that provides anti-slip functionality which makes the decking Class A2 rated, and therefore an appropriate and legal flooring solution for a high-rise specified attachment over 18m. Available in three stock item colours, it can also be supplied in any RAL colour to ensure that you get exactly the look your project demands.
With our unique anti-slip coating technology, you can maintain the visual appeal of aluminium decking whilst providing a safe non-combustible solution.
Sustainable Aluminium Floor Decking
Sustainability is a key component of building specifications. We are all seeing a shift towards more sustainable practices within the industry.
Aluminium is arguably the most sustainable building material in the world due to a number of factors. It is lightweight while strong and durable, it also has a long life span and can be recycled at its end of life.
The recycling process for aluminium loses none of the physical properties of primary aluminium.
Did you know that 75% of the 1 billion tons of aluminium produced in the last 100 years is still in use today? It also uses just 5% of the energy it takes to create primary aluminium.
Because of this, aluminium is considered one of the most valuable materials as it can be recycled infinitely to make exactly the same product.
Aluminium External Decking from Alfresco Floors
The latest innovation in non-combustible aluminium decking solutions, The AR-Deck, is Alfresco Floors’ answer to a 100% aluminium decking system.
Comprising of deck boards with a fully adjustable pedestal and joist sub-frame, you can achieve a safe, hard-wearing, sustainable solution that will perfect any building, for many years to come.
The AR-Deck can be manufactured in an infinite choice of RAL colours and features non-slip deck boards and a life expectancy extending beyond 20 years.
Aluminium Subframe for Decking
Pair Aluminium Decking with the A-PED™
With The A-PED™, Alfresco Floor’s Class A1 rated, non-combustible pedestal, you can be assured that the entire decking application is fire-rated and safe for regulations on residential high rise buildings above 18m of height.
Built to exceed a 2000Kg (20 Kn) loading per pedestal, the A-PED™ system can be used with other fire-rated compatible materials (for example, aluminium, porcelain, stone and concrete) to comply with current Class A1 building fire regulations.
With an apparent shift towards aluminium decking for balconies, terraces, walkways and other high-rise applications, now is a great time to consider this excellent material for your next project.
As well as The A-PED™, we have just released our latest 100% aluminium decking system, The AR-Deck, which comprises of deck boards with a fully adjustable pedestal and joist sub-frame. This means that installation times are reduced and that you can be sure you are delivering a full Class A-Rated solution.
To learn more about the benefits of aluminium decking for your next high-rise project, talk to an expert at Alfresco Floors today. Simply fill out the form below or give us a call on 020 89770904.
Click here to learn more about AR-Deck, our solution to a 100% aluminium external decking system.