The Four-Letter Word Your Steel Building Fears
We’ve all seen rust on those abandoned corrugated metal sheds or on neglected chain-link fences. We all know that dirty orange substance that flakes off in our hands. But what causes it and how do you prevent it? Steel consists of iron, which is easily oxidized in the presence moisture and air. This means that if you leave metal out in the elements or somewhere damp, eventually it will rust away. Fortunately, Design Components, a trusted steel building accessories supplier, knows exactly how to keep that from happening.
What Causes Rust?
Rust can form on stainless steel if it is scratched by iron or steel tools during installation. Installation damage will appear as distinct mark on the surface of the metal a few days after it was placed. Even a screwdriver-tip scratch, which seems minor and almost invisible on installation day, can become bright red and obvious in just a few days.
When metals with different electric potentials are placed next to one another in a wet or humid environment, there is an electrochemical reaction. Galvanic corrosion is most often seen between aluminum and stainless steel, especially in wet, salty places. Over time, the presence of stainless steel will weaken the aluminum, which is why you should never install aluminum pieces with stainless steel screws without adding a washer to separate the two. The damage from galvanic corrosion can cause overall stress to the metal.
Other Iron Deposits
Impact with steel or iron objects can also cause rust to form. Carts, cars, and other steel or iron objects can turn small abrasions into new sites of corrosion. Welding or grinding steel near other steel can throw debris onto the metal and cause it to rust. Therefore, keeping your steel in the same room as machined steel can create corrosive deposits on the metal and is not advised.
How To Protect Your Steel Building
The way to prevent rust is to keep moisture away from the metal. You already do this when you clean the dirt off your gardening tools or coat your cast iron skillet in oil. However, this approach doesn’t work as well for larger metal structures, like a building. So people have had to find other ways to prevent steel from oxidizing.
Steel galvanization is a process that coats metals with zinc to prevent them from oxidizing or corroding. Clean steel is bathed in molten zinc which hardens over the surface and created a moisture-resistant coating. The only way the steel can be exposed to oxygen and moisture is if the zinc coating becomes scratched. Galvanization can be done in two ways:
- “Hot-dip” process – the metal is coated in molten zinc
- Electro-galvanization – zinc particles are given a positive charge to make them bond tightly to the surface of the steel
You can tell when a metal has been galvanized by the crystallized appearance of the metal surface, called spangle.
Paint is a great way to create a barrier to moisture and make your metal more attractive at the same time. Architectural metal panels often come in a variety of colors directly from the manufacturer. Generally speaking, this is a type of paint like polyester, acrylic, or fluorocarbon. Acrylic and polyester paints are highly durable. They are often found in residential and commercial use alike. In some instances, a polyester paint is supplemented with silicone to make it even more corrosion-resistant, while still maintaining a glossy appearance. Fluorocarbon paint is resistance to heat, UV radiation, and chalking. Because of these properties, the color typically lasts longer than polyester or silicone-poly based paint.
In most cases, a manufacturer will spray the colored finish of your choice onto your metal product and baked it onto an already galvanized metal.
Avoid Rust With A Quality Steel Building Accessories Supplier
Design Components, Inc. has been a leader in the design, engineering, and distribution of metal building accessories since 1978. We have built a reputation of delivering quality products and providing consistent customer service. Our metal building accessories come with galvanized steel and paint options. We are ready to work alongside you to optimize your business and answer your questions.