wood vs aluminum screen cage

Brenda R

New Member
I was thinking of building a new cage. I am not sure if I wanted to use wood or aluminum. What are the good points and bad to each? I have aluminum right now. I tried to build a larger aluminum one but I need to redo it or make a new one. It was my first try and it just seems to bend to easy. I didn't get the screen tight enough either. I know some people like the aluminum and some like wood. Can you anyone give me any suggestions and cage designs?:confused:
Did you cut the screen frame pieces yourself?
I have a wood cage and the screen cage I just built. I had a lot more trouble with the wood, and it was more work, and I think the aluminum looks a million times better. It is also very light, wood ones can get very heavy.
It really all depends on how complex your design is.

For a simple frame type construction, aluminium can be a lot easier to use. Aluminium also has the advantage that it is waterproof, whereas with wood you'll have to use a waterproof sealer or a weather-resistant paint, which often increases the cost of using wood quite sharply, despite the cost of the raw wood alone generally being cheaper.
And as mentioned earlier, aluminium cages are generally lighter than wooden ones. This lightness comes at a bit of a price though, because if you use the right wood and construct it correctly, a wooden cage is usually more rigid and stronger (unless you're planning to use welded joins on the aluminium, but that would make it far less simple).

There are instructions out there (http://www.chameleonnews.com/diycage.html and http://www.baskinglizards.com/product_info.php?products_id=131 come to mind) for reasonably simple cages that are easy and economical to construct out of wood.

However, I've found that if you're building something quite complex, wood is the way to go, because it is generally easier to shape and join the wood to suit the demands of a complex cage design (For instance, I like to incorporate things like horizontal and diagonal beams on the sides of the cages to allow for the attachment of sturdy climbing branches, and also to mount suspended plant pots).
I also find it easier to incorporate other materials into the cage design (like plastics, for the drainage system) more easily into a wooden cage, again because of the increased ability to shape the wood, and also because of the ability to seal the wood more simply than with metal.

As for looking good, there is no doubt that an aluminium cage is neat, but a well built, well finished (painted) wooden cage can truly be a beautiful piece of furniture, not simply a habitat to be tucked away in a dark room.

I do believe that functionality is paramount to any design, but one of the main reasons most people keep these animals is to watch and observe them, and so I've always believed that the aesthetics of their habitat is also a very important factor.

So in summary, there are pros and cons to both materials. In the end it comes down to the needs or your specific design, costs, and also your willingness and ability to work with the specified material.

Will Hayward and Chris Anderson have been incorporating things like corrugated plastic into their designs, and Zerah posted his wonderful outdoor cage made from PVC piping. The use of plastics (like injection moulded beams, PVC's and engineering grade plastics) is something that I am currently investigating, because plastic combines the strengths of both wood and aluminium (waterproof, light, rigid, easy to cut and shape). The only downside in my investigations so far is the cost.
I'll keep you posted with what I come up with.
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I did cut the aluminum myself and tried to do it like the one I bought. I found that it bent alot and when I put the plants in and the branches that it started to warp the frame. This made it hard to keep the brances in place so I used some thread to go through the screen around the branches to hold it up.

I saw the pics of those cages but I don't know where to find the pvc plasic that is used on the bottom of the cage. I guess its called corrugated plastic. I tried asking someone at home depot calling it pvc sheets and they did not know what I was talking about.
You said "I don't know where to find the pvc plasic that is used on the bottom of the cage. I guess its called corrugated plastic." The corrugated plastic is not used for the BOTTOM of the cage, rather it is used for the sides and the cage dividers. It is way too light to support any heavy weight (like pot plants).
Instead, in Chris's article, he used expanded PVC board for the bottom, also called foam PVC.
The brand Chris used is called Sintra (check this out Working with Sintra)
I haven't been able to source any in South Africa yet, but I believe it is used in the signage industry.

There are many manufacturers making corrugated plastic in North America. The leading brand seems to be Coroplast (Coroplast)

You should be able to get it from suppliers in the signage industry too. In South Africa it is sold as Correx, and is predominantly used for cheap temporary advertising signage (for example those "Show House" signs that estate agents use).
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You're correct about it being from the signage industry. I used this stuff all the time. You should call around and look for sign shops that sell it. Usually you have to buy it in bulk but if you find a shop in your town, they can probably give you some scrap peices for free. That's probably best since you won't need a huge peice. Usually they come in 8' x 4' peices that need to be cut down to size.
Thanks for the help. I didn't know it was the stuff they use for signs. Now that I know it is foam PVC and what it is used for maybe I can find some place here to get it.
i would say wood because its A) cheep B) easy to use C) you can use heavier metal screen that wont get cut and dont need to pull tight!
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