Would an ALL-Aluminum House Make Sense?

I like the modern look of brushed aluminum…so I’m wondering if you could build a house out of it. Think about it: an aluminum house would be fireproof, easy to clean, and aluminum interior panels would not harbor mold and bugs. You don’t have to worry about termites or dry rot-and lightning would just pass through your house to ground.
Has an all-metal residential house ever beeen built? I also think that an aluminum house would be a sanp to clean-just wash and squeegee it off!
The interior furniture could also be aluminum…any takers?


They say all aluminum, but are referring to the framing. No mention of the siding or interior wallboard.

Aluminum siding has been around a long time, at least in the South. Its biggest drawback is that white rust that starts coating it sooner or later. It’s not only unsightly, but it comes off on everything. If you brush up against it, it’s in your hair and on your clothes, and then transfers to the next thing you touch.

Only kind of. Aluminium melts at fairly low temperatures and while the house itself may be non-flammable the contents are as flammable as ever. Since fires almost never start in the house itself but result from furniture igniting I doubt it would be much of an advantage. A couch would catch fire and the aluminium walls would melt right behind it and then the fire would spread to a table, the carpets etc.

Aluminium isn’t very easy to clean. Bare aluminium becomes covered in white oxide powder and looks shitty within minutes, and the white oxide then picks up any crap in the air and looks filthy fast.

You can paint aluminium, but that is no easier to keep clean than painted wood.

You can coat aluminium chemically in various ways which produces results that are somewhat better than painted wood, but such a process wood be cheaper if applied to aluminium panels rather than thick slabs of aluminium used as construction material.

Anyone who has ever had to clean powder coated aluminium wail tell you that isn’t true. And of course non-coated aluminium becomes so rough and pitted that a squeegee is out of the question.

On of the biggest problems of aluminium as construction material is that it a very reactive metal. A single drop of mercury or a carelessly discarded fishing sinker or lead miniature and you have a large hole in the aluminium. Even normal iron or bronze screws will react over time. That makes putting up shelving or even installing electrical wiring tricky. In coastal conditions aluminium as a building material is a horror story, with every scratch in the protective coating becoming coated in thick salt deposits as the aluminium corrodes.

The other problem you face is that of insulation. Aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat, and since your entire house is aluminium insulation won’t work effectively. If you insulate the cavities the heat will be conducted through the aluminium joists and trusses. Imagine putting dozens of aluminium “bricks” directly connecting the exterior to the interior in a standard house. That’s what you are describing. Short of somehow building the house like a thermos bottle you are going to have insulation headaches.

I just wonder if lightning strikes would be an issue.
In any case, building a cement house or buckyball dome would probably work better and last longer.

Aluminum melts and it also can burn pretty well (powdered aluminum is used in pyrotechnics, explosives and it’s one of the ingredients of thermite). It’s also relatively soft - shove the sofa into an aluminum wall panel and you might get unsightly dents or holes.

Not only built but mass-produced, at least for a time, right after the war. There are still some Lustron steel houses around.

Plus, isn’t aluminum expensive, relative to steel? Ah, well, it’s better than building a house of straw.

Aluminum is expensive and requires a coating to keep from corroding. You are better off with steel (also requires coating but a lot cheaper). We have historical houses in my neck of the woods that were made of steel in the 50’s. They’re still standing.

I would opt for a concrete house with tiled outer walls. The concrete will maintain an even temperature and insulates well. The tile is just for decoration. I saw a house done like this and it looked really great. The tile was long and rounded on the side with a streaked brown glaze. It looked like wood from a distance giving the house the look of a rustic cabin. Totally maintenance free.

Concrete log home.

CMC fnord!

These guys have been making them for decades. On wheels, too!

Aluminium won’t burn under any normal circumstances. Its ability to burn is simply not an issue when discussing aluminium in house construction. Aluminium will only burn under extreme circumstances that are never found in a house fire.

My ignorance is fought :slight_smile:

R. Buckminster Fuller built an aluminum “Dymaxion House” in 1945; it was made of aluminum:

Check it out.

An aluminum house? Hope you live in an area where there are no tornadoes.

Oh yeah, and they used to have a name for all-metal structures in Southern work camp prisons. They called them “hot boxes.”

But on the plus side, you could bake bread without electricity. Or even an oven! Just leave the dough on the counter!

Aluminum conducts heat extremely well. You could expect to either be extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter, or you’ll end up spending a fortune on climate control. Also, I’m not sure whether this is an issue in you area, but the building code might flat-out forbid what you have in mind.

Slightly OT, there were the prefab Lustron houses which were made entirely of steel.

Recent Past Preservation Network

I own and live in a Lustron. And while it’s pretty neat, and requires no painting, inside or out, I’m also in the process of updating and improving certain aspects. Namely replacement of the radiant heating system with something that’s a little more 21st century, namely an electric furnace and heat pump.

I’ve not been in it in the summer yet (closed on November 29), but the people who I have spoken to say that they’re fairly easy to cool. And while I’m replacing the radiant heat system, it did a pretty good job when the average high was 6 for a week or so.

I realize that it’s not aluminum, and you’re free to dismiss me for that reason, but it certainly can be done with steel. Besides, I rather like my home. And being me, there was no way in hell that I was going to move into some cookie-cutter ranch, anyway.


Built in the same factory as Tuckers, BTW.

spoke-, a properly designed aluminum house won’t be a “hot box.” Bucky’s prototypes for the Dymaxion Dwelling Unit remained quite cool even in the desert. Aluminum geodesic domes have been used in Africa without A/C and people complained that the interior was a bit nippy.