I'm building a simple fence that's composed of 1" or 1.5" OD x 0.065" wall x 4-ft tube soldered to a stainless steel base that's bolted to concrete. This fence will have a wood rail at the top.

Initially, I was thinking of galvanized steel, then I switched to stainless, and just today I saw many sellers selling aluminum tubing that's cheaper (cost + shipping) than stainless steel. This will be close to the ocean, so it would need to be rust-resistant.

Would it make sense to use aluminum tubing instead of stainless or galvanized? The only weight these tubes will bear is the 2x4" lumber used as railing.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of aluminum is tin foil, and that's why I'm asking. I understand it's not as strong as steel, but I want to confirm if it's strong enough.

It's something like this, but with wood rail.

enter image description here

  • Surely you meant "aluminum foil". :P
    – isherwood
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 16:51
  • its plenty strong and almost corrosion proof
    – dandavis
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 0:21

2 Answers 2


Thick wall Aluminum can work, but you'll likely need to sand or grind it annually. Salt air and Aluminum don't really like each other, they're only cordial most of the time.

Stainless Steel is your only real option and will be vastly stronger as well as maintenance free the longest. It too can be sanded and ground back to new way down the road. Burnish it with the shiny side of aluminum foil after a renewal to deposit a fresh layer of chromium and nickel.


"soldered to a stainless steel base" - I hope you mean welded. I don't think a soldered connection would hold up very well. So the question then becomes one of "what can be safely/successfully welded together". I have heard of issues but I am not a welder so I really don't know. Here is an article on the topic of welding aluminum and steel.

  • 1
    Solder would be a very low strength connection ; assuming anyone can solder aluminum. Commented May 24, 2018 at 1:46
  • There is an aluminum solder most welding shops carry it. One of the shops I take my aluminum props to uses this stuff and it holds up to my 200hp motor.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 14:30

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