One of the most popular materials used in construction is steel. Whether it’s for steel frames, bridges, balconies, stairs, the strength and durability of steel makes it a first choice for many. But to get the most out of any steel fabrication, some extra work must be done to protect it from the inevitable elements. Rain, wind, and snow can all have an effect on steel over time and cause rusting and corrosion. But there are measures you can take to reduce this significantly. We look at the main ways to weatherproof steel fabrications.
When steel is exposed to air or water, the chemical process of oxidation can occur. When steel oxidises the iron molecules on the steels surface transform into iron oxides. Oxidisation causes corrosion meaning you’ll see corrosion and flaking. Overtime, this can weaken unprotected metals.
This is also more likely to happen quicker in certain locations. For example, by the sea and coastline, it’s more likely that steel will corrode if not properly protected.
How to weatherproof steel
Using certain techniques will allow you to expand the quality and lifespan of your steel fabrications.
The process of galvanising steel that is going to be used outdoors or somewhere with a higher risk of corrosion will help prevent rusting. Placing steel into liquid zinc and cooling it down creates a protective coating. The zinc acts as a decoy metal which will oxidise first before any changes happen to the steel it is protecting, at a much slower rate. It’s possible that this can protect the steel for around a century.
You can weatherproof steel fabrications further by giving them a coating of protective paint. This will create a layer that will make it harder for the air and water to reach, in turn prolonging the life of the steel. Reapply when needed to keep the finish fresh and the protective qualities working.
Good design and upkeep
These options will help reduce the risk of corrosion for as long as possible. However, when exposed to the natural elements, there’s always going to be a possibility. One way you can help keep steel fabrications good quality and prolong their life for as long as possible, is regular cleaning and upkeep. This can help ensure any small breakouts of oxidisation don’t spread.
Well fabricated steel structures, with good drainage for example, are also very important. The better the quality of the fabrications, the longer they will last.
It’s good to use stainless steel where possible, as it contains chromium. This oxidises quickly and forms a protective layer of chromium oxide on the surface, which prevents oxygen from reaching the steel.
If you’re concerned about your structural steel or architectural metalwork having the optimal weatherproofing, ANY Weld can help ensure it is done to the highest standard. Get in touch with us today at [email protected]