Should You Use Galvanized Or Aluminum Duct For Bath Fan?

Bathroom spaces (unsurprisingly) deal with a lot of humidity and a lot of moisture, two things you do not want sticking around inside tight and confined spaces for extended amounts of time.

Too much humidity and too much moisture inevitably lead to mold and mildew. This problem can spiral out of control behind your walls without you realizing just how bad it is until it’s a real emergency.

Luckily, though, you won’t have to worry about that with a quality bathroom ventilation system!

At the same time, of course, you need to be sure that your bathroom fan and ventilation system has been intelligently designed and made of the right materials.

Pick the right materials and a smart design, and hot, humid air will be vented quickly and efficiently right outside – preventing any problems whatsoever.

Pick the wrong materials and an incorrect design, though, and you can make things worse. Not only will you and dealing with mold and mildew, but you might end up dealing with rust and rot, too.

When you get right down to it, the ductwork material choice you pick is going to have a huge impact on whether or not your ventilation system lasts as long as your house does or needs ripping out and replacing much sooner than expected.

Below we help you figure out whether or not it’s a better idea to go with a galvanized duct or an aluminum duct (and why). Let’s dig right into it!

 Benefits of Galvanized Ducts for Bathroom Fans

Galvanized ductwork is a popular choice for residential and commercial bathrooms for a couple of reasons, not the least of the anti-corrosion properties that this material naturally has.

The galvanizing process protects the metal underneath the galvanized surface from the kind of damage that water and moisture would do, insulating it from rust and corrosion and providing a slick, smooth surface for that air to flow over and be vented.

Galvanized surfaces are always a lot more resistant to scratches, dents, and dings as well.

The galvanizing process goes much deeper than traditional metal coatings, providing a deeper level of protection from accidental scratches that could expose the underlying material to rust and corrosion.

That’s going to give property owners a lot more peace of mind!

Other benefits that galvanized ductwork bring to the table include:

  • General Affordability – Galvanized materials are (almost always) significantly less expensive than most other ductwork options while providing great results over the long haul. Not having to spend a small fortune on your bathroom fan and ventilation system is always a nice little bonus.
  • Long-Term Durability – No property owner wants to have to replace core systems regularly, but that’s precisely what low-quality ventilation and ductwork materials require. Galvanized metal can last a lifetime (and then some) without showing any signs of wear and tear.
  • Effortless to Maintain – Galvanized metal also doesn’t need a lot of babysitting or special cleaning. It’s as close to a “set it and forget it” kind of material as you’re going to find, a big bonus for something that’s going to be installed behind your walls and not that easy to get to in the first place.

Benefits of Aluminum Ducts for Bathroom Fans

Aluminum ductwork for bath fans is also a great choice and shouldn’t go overlooked.

Usually a little more expensive than galvanized material, the beautiful thing about aluminum is that it is so soft, so malleable, and flexible.

Whereas galvanized materials are generally going to be stiff and rigid, requiring you to think out and plan where you will install your ductwork in the bathroom, aluminum can be flexed around obstacles where necessary.

Aluminum also happens to have a fantastic natural ability to resist rust and corrosion.                                                                                                                  

This is not a material you’re going to have to worry about falling apart when it’s exposed to a lot of hot, moist air. You won’t have to worry about waking up one day 5 or 10 years down the line and discovering that your aluminum bath fan system is all rusted and no longer working the way it should.

Other benefits of using aluminum for your bath fan system include:

  • Easy to Insulate – Bath fan systems need to be insulated if they will be running through living spaces in your home (especially if they are going to vent out of the attic, for example) insulating aluminum is a whole lot easier than other materials.
  • Light Weight – Super lightweight (especially compared to galvanized material), lugging around a lot of bath fan exhaust system ductwork made from aluminum is always going to be more convenient than carrying around big, bulky runs of galvanized metal.
  • Adaptable – As mentioned a moment ago, the flexibility and malleability of aluminum give a lot more “wiggle room” to make installation a lot easier. You don’t have to fight rigid material that won’t bend without buckling when working with aluminum the way you might have with galvanized materials

Drawbacks and Downsides

Galvanized metal will be a bit of a bear to work with compared to aluminum, especially if this is your first time installing a bath fan and exhaust system.

It’s a lot stiffer, it’s a lot thicker to cut, and there isn’t a lot of forgiveness when working with galvanized materials.

Galvanized metal is also a lot heavier than aluminum. That can get to be a little tedious when working with heavier metal over your head a lot (running galvanized material through your bathroom ceiling).

On the flip side of things, aluminum will always be more expensive to use in a bath fan exhaust system – sometimes prohibitively so. You might end up spending two or three times as much using aluminum material to cover the same area that you could have covered with galvanized metal.

Aluminum also has a softer nature than galvanized metal, which may be a problem in the durability department. Any bumps, any dings, or any damage done during the installation process to aluminum will come back to bite property owners later down the line.

Galvanized has a thicker skin and can resist that kind of damage more effectively.

Which is Better – Galvanized Material or Aluminum?

Both of these materials share a lot in common.

Galvanized materials and aluminum are highly effective at fighting corrosion, even if aluminum does a (slightly) better job.

Both materials are explicitly designed to be used in bath fan exhaust systems and ducts, and professional tradespeople worldwide choose both of these materials regularly to get the job done.

At the end of the day, though, galvanized materials are always going to be a little less expensive, a bit more durable, and generally last longer before needing to be replaced than aluminum ductwork.

 Suppose you’re going to go with one material over another (especially in new construction where you can run ductwork unimpeded). In that case, it’s not a bad idea to go with galvanized and save the money you would have spent on aluminum to be used elsewhere on your home projects.

Closing Thoughts

 Both of these materials can stand up to the hot, humid, moist air that bathrooms will need to ventilate as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

 Full-blown bath fan systems that are smartly designed can make great use of either of these materials. But homeowners looking to save a little bit of money that can be used elsewhere on home projects can’t go wrong going with a galvanized bath fan exhaust setup.

You won’t regret this decision!