When it comes to galvanizing steel, there are a few different ways to do it. While each method has its own practical uses, we still believe that hot-dip galvanizing is the best choice for ultimate corrosion protection. The main reason for this is that there is a big difference between hot dip galvanized and galvanized materials. When you want to ensure the integrity of your project, you want to be sure you use the best method and materials.
Before we explain why hot-dip galvanizing is still your best option for strengthening and protecting steel, let’s quickly look at some of the most common, alternative methods of galvanizing steel.
This method of galvanizing trades a zinc bath for an electrolyte solution, which the steel is covered in prior to being treated. While the steel is resting in the electrolyte solution, an electric current is applied, which converts zinc ions into zinc metal that adheres to that steel. This scientific process creates a thin layer of zinc. However, because the coating is so thin, the material can still be susceptible to corrosion.
This process is a combination of hot-dip galvanizing and annealing, which is a heat treatment that alters the microstructure of a material to make it more durable. So, galvannealing still uses hot-dipping, but by annealing at the same time, the resulting steel has more of a matte grey finish. The resulting coating is a combination of both zinc and iron. It can be great for manufacturing products or for welding but is not the best choice for infrastructure projects that demand tougher materials and corrosion protection.
As the name implies, pre-galvanizing is similar to hot-dip galvanizing but is completed as the first stage in production instead of a final stage. Most often used to quickly coat sheet metal, the material is cleaned and treated before being run through the molten zinc bath and then immediately recoiled. While this expedited process does coat the material, the protective layer is cut during fabrication. This leaves any areas where cutting occurred uncoated and vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
There are three big reasons we still recommend hot-dip galvanizing over other methods:
Hot-dip galvanizing is still the best option for ultimate corrosion protection. This is because of the thickness of the coating and because of when the coating is applied.
Other methods of galvanizing do not allow the steel to bond with the zinc in the same way. This means the resulting coating is not as thick or strong as that produced by hot-dip galvanizing. Without the thickness to protect the material, the coating can be just as weak as any other protective option that cannot stand the test of time.
The other main reason hot-dip galvanizing provides better corrosion protection is that the coating is applied during the fabrication process before the steel is installed. This means that any areas that are cut or damaged during installation will still have a protective coating. Other methods of galvanizing, like pre-galvanizing, coat the steel before it is cut and fabricated. This leaves any areas that are cut or damaged during installation vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
While steel that is galvanized through other means is only suitable for specific types of projects, hot-dip galvanized steel can be used for a variety of building projects. This is because the material is tough, making it able to withstand more wear and tear. It can withstand extreme temperatures better than the materials produced by other methods of galvanization. Its shiny appearance makes it suitable for exterior and interior projects.
It can also be used in a variety of industries, like construction, automotive, and even food and beverage. This is different from the materials other galvanizing methods produce, which are often created for a very specific purpose. When you are trying to stick within a set timeframe and budget, it is better to work with materials that can be used widely in a pinch than to stock up on materials that are only suitable for specific environments.
Hot-dip galvanizing is one of the most economical means of protecting steel. This is for a few reasons. By galvanizing the steel during or after fabrication, you save time transporting materials back and forth. You receive materials that are ready to go and can be cut without fear of hurting the integrity of the product.
Hot-dip galvanizing is also more durable, which means it will last longer and does not need to be replaced as often. This protects your investment by ensuring that the materials you purchase can be used for a longer period of time. In the long run, hot-dip galvanizing is cheaper because you do not need to replace the materials as often.
The American Galvanizers Association has a great Life Cycle Cost Calculator tool that you can use to calculate the initial and life cycle cost of hot-dip galvanizing versus other corrosion protection options.
There are a few different methods of galvanizing steel, but we still think hot-dip galvanizing is the best choice. This is because hot-dip galvanizing provides the best corrosion resistance, is more versatile in use, and is more economical in the long run. When it comes to protecting your steel investment, hot-dip galvanizing is the way to go.
At South Atlantic, we are experts in all things hot-dip galvanizing. After 50 years working with galvanized materials and advising builders, architects, engineers, and project managers, we know exactly what products will work best for your specific project and can make sure you have them on time, and on budget.
You can learn more about us on our website, then contact us here to start a conversation: southatlanticllc.com/contact.
No matter how big your project is, we’ve got you covered.
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