Even the strongest of humans have their own version of Kryptonite, and the strongest of building materials does as well. In the world of steel and metal buildings, that Kryptonite is called corrosion. Most people choose to build with steel because of its celebrated durability and longevity, not to mention affordability. However, all of these attributes are compromised when steel products become corroded.
Steel Building Coatings Are the Key to Durability, Longevity & Affordability
As you navigate the lists of steel building materials, it's imperative that you select the best materials for the job. Just as steel gauge measurements indicate a component's strength - the type and quality of coating used is another factor that will determine how long the components will function effectively before needing to be repaired or replaced. Steel is strong, yes, but it is also comprised of chemical elements - and these elements react with other elements (remember your high school chemistry class?)
Things like water (hydrogen and oxygen), salt (sodium and chlorine) and other environmental toxins will begin to react with the iron (and potentially carbon). Over time, these reactions will begin to degrade the iron in the steel - causing corrosion in the form of rust. Left untreated, this corrosion will eventually compromise the structural integrity of your building. It's one thing when this corrosion takes place in siding or roof panels that are fairly easy to repair or replace. It's another thing altogether when the corrosion affects your steel framework - the loss of which will cause the building to collapse.
In order to prevent corrosion - which automatically increases the lifespan of your steel building - steel and metal manufacturers have perfected the art of protective steel coatings.
Options for Coating Your Steel Building
There are several coating options available, but all of them include the use of zinc. Yet another cheer for the periodic table, zinc is a metal, just like iron. However, unlike iron, zinc has some rather unique properties that makes it very resistant to environmental elements of all kinds, including water and salt. When applied as a coating, it forms a very strong bond with the iron that comprises steel. Galvanized steel is a prime example of steel that has been coated with layers of protective zinc.
Galvanized steel is used universally in the steel industry, and is considered to be the best "all-around" protective coatings for steel building products. In most situations, galvanized steel products that are treated to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance requirements (zero to minimal, in most applications) will continue to perform for 50 years or longer. Another bonus: galvanized steel is one of the most affordable steel building coatings. As we say in our industry, galvanized steel products provide both first-time and lifetime cost benefits.
While galvanized steel is universally respected, there are conditions in which a little more protection is desirable. If you have done your part to minimize humidity and moisture levels inside the building - which help to protect the steel framework and structural components in interior wall and attic spaces, that's great. The steel in these locations will be very protected from the elements. Your roofing and siding products, however, take a much bigger beating and they need a little more help.
Roofing and siding panels are rained on and snowed on. They can take a beating from wind, debris and hail. These panels are exposed 24/7 to whatever environmental acids/chemicals may be in the air, as well as tree branches or landscaping components that come in contact with them on a regular basis. All of these scenarios make exterior steel more susceptible to corrosion, so roof panels and siding panels are often protected using specialized coatings.
One example of a coating material that supersedes galvanization is a product called GALVALUME. A GALVALUME coating is made from 55% aluminum, 43.4% zinc and 1.6% silicon. These additional elements increase its durability and resistance to corrosion from both moisture, chemicals and other metals. These panels are still very lightweight and easy to work with. Roofs and siding coated with GALVALUME are known to last twice as long or longer than their traditional roof and siding counterparts.
Light Routine Maintenance Will Help Your Protective Coatings Last Longer
Your metal coatings are designed to protect your building from long-term corrosion but they still need a little help. Make sure your building is constructed on a slightly elevated site so water drains away from the foundation. Water shedding or waterproof roofing products, combined with gutters and down spouts will further protect your building from water damage. Light annual and seasonal building maintenance will also keep your protective coatings in ship-shape, allowing them to do their job for decades to come.
Interested in learning more about the best coating options for your metal building components? Contact the customer service reps at Whirlwind Steel.