Frequently Asked Questions

Aluminum & Its Benefits

Why aluminum instead of steel, concrete or fiberglass?

The demand for aluminum is increasing every year, and it’s easy to see why: A little more than a century since it was first commercially produced, it is now the world’s second most used metal after steel. Aluminum is the metal of choice for leading designers, architects and engineers who need a material which combines functionality and cost-effectiveness with forward-looking form and design potential.

There are numerous benefits of aluminum poles, namely

  • Aluminum is rust/corrosion free;
  • It has better breakaway performance and can be directly buried;
  • It has a proven longer life (50+ years);
  • It has a lower life cycle costing;
  • It is recyclable with financial return (one of the most efficiently recycled materials on the planet);
  • It is lighter in weight, making it easier to install;
  • It is easily removable from accident sites;
  • More and more decorator styles are being introduced and aluminum offers an unlimited spectrum of colors.
Are aluminum poles more expensive than steel poles?

This depends on the application, mounting height, and raw material costs at the time. While the initial price of steel poles is normally lower, total ownership costs (installation costs, maintenance costs, life cycle costs) for aluminum are less expensive.

Poles & Bases

What is the difference between embedded and achored-based poles?

Embedded poles are buried directly into the ground — as a general rule: 10%+ is buried into the ground. Anchor-based poles are attached to the ground with a base plate or transformer base and anchor bolts. The pole is welded to the base (which is done in our plant) and the base is bolted to a concrete footing. When the concrete footing is poured, anchor bolts are “cast” into the concrete and stick up above the surface. The base has holes to attach the bolts to. So, it follows this sequence: Concrete footing poured with bolts cast in; bolts attached to base/pole. It is easy to see why this method costs more than an embedded pole.

In what applications do you use embedded poles?

Embedded poles can be used/substituted in many applications. Areas of concern would be sandy or very loose soil areas, in which case embedded could still be used but the degree of burial would have to be increased. In many cases, DOTs and utilities specifications do not allow direct burial of poles, because, unlike burial, “breakaway” bases minimize the amount of damage and injury in vehicle/pole collisions.

Embedded poles imply several advantages: easier installation, cost and time savings. This eliminates the need for expensive anchor base footings and bases. Think of it this way: 2-5 feet of extra pole is almost always less expensive than the base, anchor bolts and anchor base footing, extra hardware and labor needed for anchored poles, not to mention that direct embedded poles can be installed in much less time than anchored poles.

What are the different pole bases and their uses?
  • Anchor Base (Flange): The least expensive way to attach a pole to the foundation;
  • T-Base: Originally for housing ballast, it’s now primarily a breakaway device;
  • Breakaway Couplings: The go-between anchor base and foundation to provide breakaway capability.
  • X-Base: Functions as an anchor base but provides breakaway mechanism.
Why does AASHTO recommend "breakaway" bases?

The Federal Highway Administration requires breakaway poles on high-speed highways if Federal funds are involved.

What are the foundation requirements?

Foundation requirements are usually specified by the architect or DOT responsible for the installation of the pole. For example, a 30-40 foot tall aluminum pole would require a 20″ diameter X 60″ deep foundation with 1″ diameter X 36″ long anchor bolts embedded.

What is a vibration damper and wehn is it used?

Used on most poles without an arm and some with arms, a vibration damper is used to reduce second mode wind vibration. They should be used in any application where constant winds in excess of 15 mph are common. Métal Pole-Lite should be advised of these applications.


What are your standard finishes?

White Texture; Black Texture; Dark Bronze Texture; and Dark Green Texture. Satin finish is also available, as well as anodized finishes, which are: Clear Anodized; Light Bronze Anodized; Medium Bronze Anodized; Dark Bronze Anodized and Black Anodized.

What does "anondized finish" mean?

This is a finish achieved by immersing the material into an acid solution and passing a direct current through the material in such a manner as to form a durable oxide film on the surface of the pole. This is meant to increase resistance to corrosion and abrasion. However, this process inherently results in color variations where there are chemical or physical differences on the pole or between parts of the pole castings. An anodized finish can be attained in clear, black or various shades of bronze. We do not advise selecting this particular finish. See “Thermoset Powder” as an alternative.

What is thermoset powder finish?

Weather resistant polyester or urethane thermoset powder is electrostatically applied, oven cured and bonded at approximately 400 degrees to a minimum dry film thickness of 1.5 mils. Thermoset powder paint finishes are resistant to scratching, chipping or peeling, and have excellent color retention. The National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers’ Metal Finishes Manual rates the outdoor life of these powders at 15+ years.

What is satin finish?

A satin aluminum finish is achieved by rotary sanding or chemically cleaning and etching.


What is AASHTO?

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is a Department of Transportation (DOT) organization that publishes standards for DOTs to use. Most DOTs use AASHTO Standards.

What is a DOT?

DOT stands for Department of Transportation.