Seat Batten Guide: Which Material Gets Hottest in Summer?
Timber? Aluminium? The answer may surprise you.
Comfort sitting outdoors can depend on many factors: position, view, shelter, microclimate, social comfort and more – see our Gehl cheatsheet on how to place seats in the city.
The temperature of the seat under you can also contribute.
Metal, for example, is commonly thought to be hottest in summer and coldest in winter. Street Furniture Australia’s inhouse engineers ran a study, dubbed the Goldilocks Batten Project, to get to the truth.
They tested anodised, powdercoated and woodgrain aluminium, and oiled hardwood (Jarrah) battens. For comparison, they also looked at raw aluminium – a material we do not use in seats.
The battens were placed in the sun, and the temperature recorded regularly. The engineers noted how long it took the material to heat up or cool down, in full sun and with clouds.
Which Seat Batten Gets Hottest, and Which Feels Hottest?
The batten that feels hottest in a blind test is NOT the batten with the highest recorded temperature on a sunny day.
Anodised aluminium was 10°C cooler than oiled timber. There is a common misperception is that anodised is hot in summer. It is actually cooler than oiled hardwood, making it great for coastal locations but should be avoided for colder climates.
Oiled hardwood battens reach the highest temperature, as oil causes the material to store heat. Regular oiling is recommended for seats as it improves durability.
Aluminium still FEELS hotter than wood, as metal has higher conductivity to skin. Raw aluminium gets hotter than anodised.
Woodgrain and powdercoated aluminium reached higher temperatures than anodised aluminium: the extra layer insulates the material. A thick powdercoat can provide conductivity levels similar to timber: so it will feel cooler than raw aluminium.
Applying white powdercoat or white paint will raise emissivity: light-coloured materials do not store as much heat.
What Makes Battens Hot?
Three main factors determine how responsive battens are to heat:
Thermal Mass – how much heat energy and time it takes to change temperature. High mass is best for battens – we want them to heat and cool slowly.
Radiation Emissivity – how much energy absorbed from the sun is emitted out or stored within. Battens that store heat feel hot, so higher is better.
Conductivity – how fast heat is transferred from the surface of the metal to skin.
Hardwood battens have the highest thermal mass of materials tested – they change temperature most slowly. They are solid, while the aluminium are hollow extrusions, so perhaps this is not surprising.
In tests where wind blew across aluminium extrusions, the metal quickly cooled.
Our Experience of Battens is Not Rational
Our team – with more than 30 years of experience supplying furniture to public spaces – notes that the comfort people experience from different kinds of battens on seats is also affected by psychological factors.
Looks matter. Timber and woodgrain aluminium tend to look warmer and more inviting to travellers waiting for the train, or relaxing in a park.
Your choice of colour may help overcome perceptions – for example, using warmer colours for psychological effect if cold is a concern.
The shinier a material is, the hotter or colder it looks.
People dress for the weather. Bare skin does not usually come in contact with a bench in winter.
So which batten should you choose? If heat is a concern, anodised aluminium does not get as hot, and will cool more quickly with cloud cover, wind or moving shade.
When designing for colder climates, timber and colourful palettes can make environments more inviting.
Street Furniture Australia materials and finishes are suitable for all-weather conditions, however certain selections empower you to optimise comfort.
Take a quick (and educational) tea break with us! Customers are invited to book in a 10-minute Zoom or Microsoft Teams chat to learn about new products. Presentations are guaranteed no longer than 10-minutes plus Q&A. Choose from: Each participant will receive a T2 gift box (optional). Book by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the button below. Win a HAY clock Australian customers who book a Tea Time between April 1 to June 1, 2023 will be in the running to win a newly-launched wall clock designed by Jasper Morrison, valued at $275. Winner will be notified on June 5, 2023. Image: HAY.
Curve the Linea range with horizontal or vertical battens, timber or aluminium, freestanding or fixed to the ground, to a wall or plinth. Use standard or custom curves to realise your vision in any landscape. Our industrial designers have applied a deep understanding of material practicalities to craft the aluminium Linea Curved Seat, and timber Linea VT Curved Seat, blending form and function with our signature quality, durability and ease of maintenance. Designed in consultation with landscape architects, both products offer the ability to tailor curves to fit project requirements. The two distinct options are: Aluminium: Linea Curved Seat and Bench Innovative backrest design, available in Wood Without Worry or colour powdercoated aluminium battens. Timber: Linea VT Curved Seat and Bench Vertically-oriented, hand-cut battens featuring PEFC-certified Spotted Gum hardwood. Linea …
Sydney landscape architects and friends gathered at The Mint in the CBD on May 10, 2023 to celebrate the launch of new products and a design book with Street Furniture Australia and AILA NSW. A highlight of the evening was introducing ‘… creating a sense of place,’ a book by founding directors Darrel Conybeare and Bill Morrison, which tells the story of two young architects successfully launching their public furniture design and manufacturing business. The book will be available from July 2023 on Book Depository, Amazon and select bookstores. The Linea VT collection and Linea Curved Seat were also unveiled, providing dynamic options for curved aluminium and timber seating. The event was filled with live jazz music, delicious food and drinks, and lively conversations among our guests. We would like …
Australia’s first locally designed and made smart bench, with outdoor device charging and provision for WiFi and sensors, has received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade for outstanding design and innovation. The Aria Smart Bench is Street Furniture Australia’s first foray into the smart cities movement, says Head of Innovation June Lee Boxsell. “For us, smart cities has two aspects. First, human-centred: we aim to bring enjoyment to public spaces and create meaningful experiences for the community. One way Aria Smart Bench answers this need is through modularity,” says Boxsell. “Site specific solutions are important for activating public spaces. Each place has its own identity, community, history. Just as at Nike you can design your own shoe, with Aria you can design your own bench without having to build …
Street Furniture Australia is launching a new Integrated Management System to include ISO certifications in quality, OH&S, sustainability and the environment. The system certified by QAS International is designed to meet the requirements of PAS99:2012 including Quality Management ISO 9001:2015, Environmental Management ISO 14001:2015, and OH&S Management ISO 45001:2018 and AS/NZS 4801:2001. The certification will further strengthen our program of continuous improvement, says Christopher Morgan, Street Furniture Australia Operations Manager, with 24 small audits leading up to the annual audit in 12 months’ time. “It’s not a rubber stamp that’s awarded once, it’s a system you need to continuously upgrade and improve,” he says. The three months of work leading up to the certification has brought the entire team closer, he tells StreetChat. “ISO is a great process as it …
What if you could stand onsite at your next project and explore how furniture could be placed, with your phone? A new way to envision and experiment with configuring the Aria Seating System – in situ or from your office – is here, with the Street Furniture Australia Build ARIA app now available in the App Store for iPhone and iPad. Watch the step-by-step guide on how to use the app: To access, search for Build ARIA in the app store, or scan this QR code: The app aims to make specifying and sharing concepts easier and more enjoyable, says Design and Marketing Manager June Lee Boxsell. The latest Augmented Reality (AR), technology is now capable of realistic and accurate virtual renderings that spring to life on your phone or tablet. “When we saw the first …