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How To Choose The Right Finish For Your Steelwork
25 October 2015
Metal finishing is a surface treatment that alters the properties of steel products and there are many different types of finishing processes that fulfil a variety of functions, both practical and aesthetic.
Steelwork can be brushed, patterned, electroplated, coloured, painted, buffed, powder coated, dipped, polished and patterned (amongst other finishing processes) – all of which are undertaken to make the steelwork look good and/or enhance its functionality, performance and texture.
For example, finishing can enhance the durability and corrosion-resistance of a steel product, improve its electrical conductivity, improve the decorative appeal by making the surface look brighter or more colourful, improve torque tolerance, make it easier to solder, increase its tarnish and chemical resistance, harden it and enable it to bond to rubber (vulcanisation).
These are just some of the reasons for metal finishing – and choosing the best finish for a specific structure or product requires an-depth knowledge of the various processes and their respective advantages and disadvantages, what specific conditions they suit best and the costs involved – and it’s always best to seek an expert opinion to determine which finish is best suited for your particular application.
Here are a few considerations that will facilitate your decision-making in choosing a metal finishing technique for your particular project. But while it is vital to specify a finish for an application where the finish is important from an aesthetic or functional perspective, it is equally vital to specify the finish even when you don’t think it is important – and that is in order to avoid a situation where you receive a finish or a finished product where the ‘unspecified’ finish is not actually suitable for the application. Always seek advice from an experienced steel fabrication company who will guide you on choosing the most suitable finish for your particular product or application.
Finishes fall into two categories, mill finishes and special finishes. A number of finishes for flat steel products (sheet and plate) take place at the mill itself whilst others are applied later during processing. Hot rolled, heat treated and pickled mill finishes result in a non-reflective rough surface which isn’t generally used for decorative steelwork. Cold rolled finishes (of which there are several different types) result in a dull grey, slightly reflective finish which is either used as is or as a starting point for a range of polished finishes.
Following are some of more common special finishes that a steel fabrication company would perform:
Hot dip galvanizing. This is a cost-effective process widely used in industrial applications whereby iron and steel products are immersed in a bath of liquid zinc and coated in order to protect the base metal from corroding.
Powder coating. This is a decorative finish that is similar to paint, but with enhanced durability. Dry plastic powder or paint granules are melted onto the metal to give a textured, matte or glossy finish. This process can also be very effective removing surface defects.
Spray painting. Protection against corrosion can be gained by spray painting steelwork with one or multiple layers of liquid paint. Spray painting is also a popular design finish.
Blast cleaning. Surface preparation is the essential first stage treatment of the steel or metal before any coating can be applied, and blast cleaning is a vital first step to remove contaminants and create a suitable base for the application of high-performance protective coatings.
At WA Steel, we provide steel, stainless steel and aluminium fabrication amongst other metal fabrication services plus we provide metal finishing services for the products we manufacture. Should you need any advice on how to choose the right finish for your steelwork, simply contact us on 08 9377 3778 and take advantage of our 30 years of industry experience. Alternatively, please visit our website, www.wasteel.com.au to learn more about our total manufacturing solution which takes customers from the initial concept through to the finished product.