Are Plastic or Metal Blades Better For a Ceiling Fan?


What’s better for a ceiling fan; metal or plastic fan blades? It can be a bit unclear and maybe you’re not sure what’s better for you. Here’s what you want to know. 

Metal fan blades are heavier, cost more, can corrode and are slightly louder than plastic ones. However, metal blades are also stronger, last longer and often look better. For most people plastic blades are the best choice unless the fan has to last for a very long time. 

Keep reading below to find out more about the differences and what’s best for you. Also, metal and plastic aren’t the only choices. There are some other materials to be aware of. 

Metal or Plastic Blades On a Ceiling Fan

Trying to decide between a ceiling fan with metal or plastic blades and are not sure what the differences are? Here are the pros and cons of both metal and plastic fan blades. 

There are some pretty big differences. One is not necessarily better than the other, it depends on your budget and application what’s best for you. Check out the pros and cons below and see what is the best choice for you. 

Pros and Cons of metal blades

Let’s first look at the pros and cons of metal blades. 

Pros

  • Very strong
  • Can withstand shocks
  • Looks better than plastic

Cons

  • Heavier
  • Cost more
  • Use slightly more electricity but only during the acceleration phase
  • Can be more damaging if something gets caught
  • Slightly louder

Pros and Cons of plastic blades

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Can easily be molded to any shape
  • Can be given lots of different finishes
  • Don’t rust
  • Can be easily cleaned with water
  • Slightly quieter

Cons

  • Often look cheap
  • Plastic gets old and becomes brittle over time

Summary

Fans with metal blades last a long time (or at least the blades do), are strong and can look amazing. They can in some cases be susceptible to corrosion though. Once a fan starts corroding it won’t look so good anymore. Metal fan blades are also more likely to be sharper and they hit harder because they’re heavier. This means if something gets in there, it will do more damage but the metal fan blades are more likely to survive. They use a touch more electricity but it’s very minimal. Longevity is the main reason to go for metal blades. Think about older fans you might have seen around. There’s a very large chance it has a largely metal construction. 

I should mention aluminum blades here separately. Aluminum blades are lighter and corrode much less quickly than steel blades but they are more expensive. 

Plastic fan blades cost less and for most applications actually last long enough but the designs often look a little less good than fans with metal blades although there is a very wide range of looks for plastic blades. In most cases, by the time plastic blades become brittle and start sagging or breaking, the rest of the fan is probably due for replacement as well. With plastic you don’t have to worry about corrosion and you can easily use water to clean the blades. 

Suggested: Are cheap ceiling fans worth the money?

Other Ceiling Fan Blade Materials

Plastic and metal are not the only two materials used to make ceiling fan blades out of. Other common materials are:

  • Wood
  • Composite
  • Pressed board

Wooden fan blades can look very nice and can be found on some high-end ceiling fans. Wood can look absolutely amazing but often you’ll have to pay for that nice design. Of course wood is a natural material that can warp and be impacted by moisture. Many wooden fan blades are infused with plastic and/or sealed very well so this is not a problem. however, they’re not as durable as steel blades or at least not without some maintenance.

Composite, pressed board, MDF, etc. are also used to make fan blades out of on some cheaper ceiling fans. If your budget allows it, I would try to avoid these materials. They’re just sawdust or even forms of cardboard pressed together tightly and bound with glue. While new, you won’t notice much of a difference because they usually just look like plastic. They’re covered in a sealant and painted which makes it look normal although not amazing. 

However, it is a sign of significant cost cutting which probably doesn’t stop at the blades. The rest of the components can be expected to be of lower quality as well. The biggest problem is that you can get droopy blades. If moisture gets into the blades past the sealant, it starts to weaken the glue bonds and the blades can actually become structurally compromised and start sagging. If you’re in a humid environment, this can be an issue. 

Other Ceiling Fan Selection Factors

The material of the fan blades is not unimportant but it’s also not on the top of the list of deciding factors for a ceiling fan. 

Other things you have to think about are:

  • Size: The most important is that the ceiling fan is appropriately sized for the space you want to use it in. Too big and the blades might not be able to spin without running into something. Too small and it might not produce enough airflow for your space. 
  • CFM: How much air a fan moves is important. You want to get a good breeze going in your room so it actually circulates the air and cools you down. The CFM is largely dependent on the size of the fan but that’s not the only factor. Speed, amount of blades and shape of the blades also have their impact on airflow. Get the right one for your space. 
  • Motor: If you’re buying a new fan, it’s better to get one with a DC type motor. This type uses less electricity and is often a bit quieter, both of which are good things. 
  • Looks: The first thing pretty much everyone looks at is the design. A ceiling fan becomes a prominent feature in any room so it should be something you like to look at. 
  • Rating: Most fans are for indoor use only. They can’t handle moisture or any of the other elements. If you want to use your ceiling fan outside or on a patio, get one that’s rated for it. 

After all those things, blade material is another factor that can help you find the right fan in the vast sea of ceiling fans that’s out there. 

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