If you’re planning to replace your old, worn-out lawn mower, then you’re probably shopping with long-term value in mind. Of course, factors like the propulsion system at play, blade availability, and mulching options are important considerations, but there’s another often-overlooked factor: the material used to make your mower deck! These days, most mower decks are made from either steel or aluminum, although some manufacturers have released plastic decks.
For light usage, plastic might be a reasonable option, but if you’re expecting to use this machine for years to come, you’ll have to choose between steel or aluminum. Not sure which one to pick? Keep reading to learn about the pros (and cons) of each deck material!
Steel has been the preferred mower deck material for years. It’s no wonder why: this material is incredibly strong! Steel decks are far more impact-resistant than their aluminum counterparts, which is why they are often the choice of premium lawn mower companies. These decks can take all the bumps, scrapes, and crashes that come with commercial lawn mowing.
As such, they’ll certainly be up to the task of mowing your personal yard! Despite all the abuse they might take, these decks will still look great for a long while. Most manufacturers treat their decks with powdered paint, which serves both aesthetic and rust-preventing purposes.
Like anything, steel does have its downsides. The first thing to consider is the type of steel used. Resistance to impacts is one of the most compelling reasons to invest in a steel deck, but you’ll only benefit if your deck is made from thick steel. If your mower’s manufacturer has tried to cut costs then they may have used a thin stamped steel, which isn’t as durable.
On the other hand, steel is also heavy, so if impacts aren’t a foreseen issue, then a stamped deck may be a suitable option. Lastly, steel has a tendency to rust over time. This deterioration can be delayed by using good maintenance practices, but sadly, corrosion is inevitable.
Aluminum alloy is a lightweight metal used in many modern mower decks. Since it’s lighter than steel, aluminum alloy is perfect for use in small push mowers, although it can be utilized in larger mowers as well. Besides being lightweight, it also has another major benefit: aluminum alloy doesn’t rust! This is a big benefit for homeowners who use mowers with a built-in deck cleaning system.
These systems often involve hooking up a hose to your mower deck & letting the blades spin to remove stuck-on grass below the deck. With a steel deck, this leaves your equipment vulnerable to rust. Aluminum alloy decks don’t suffer from this issue, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a.
The main problem with aluminum decks is that they’re not as sturdy as their steel counterparts. Whereas steel decks can take repeated impacts and hold their shape, an aluminum deck is likely to bend, crumple, or even crack after multiple hits. Beyond that, they’re reliable, low-maintenance mower decks that are perfect for residential and personal use, although many commercial companies use them as well.
Which Type of Mower Deck Is Right for You?
As you can see, both of these metal deck options have their ups and downs. Neither is particularly superior to the other though, so which one you choose is ultimately down to personal preferences and needs. If you’re only planning on mowing your own lawn then either a steel or an aluminum deck will work great.
For mowers without a self-propelling system, you’d be much better off with an aluminum deck since this will greatly reduce the weight you need to push around. If your mower has a self-propelling system, then steel will also work, although the weight may become an issue with push mowers if you have hills.
Are you in commercial lawn care? If that’s the case then we actually recommend both! Aluminum is perfect for push mowers that are often used in smaller spaces with little risk of impact. You’ll want to go for a steel deck on the zero-turn mowers though: inexperienced employees can easily run over a rock or clip a tree, and you don’t want to be needing constant repairs to your mower deck!
Wrapping It Up
That's our take on a lawn mower steel deck vs aluminum deck. Regardless of which material you choose, make sure to consider all factors when purchasing a new mower. If the deck is likely to outlast the engine, is rust really an issue? We’ll let you decide. Happy shopping!
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Images are from Toro.