Rust and its Harm
Steel-frame kit homes are popular choices for people who want to build their homes in the coastal areas due to its strength and durability, termite resistance and sustainability. An unavoidable problem occurring in these areas, though, is the corrosion of steel as a result of the exposure to salt spray. However, the corrosion rate is faster the closer the house is to the ocean, and effects extend only a few hundred meters from the coastline.
Rust, a more commonly used term for corrosion, is usually flaky and friable, resulting in degraded steel. When the rusted steel is left untreated, the rust will continue to spread, influencing the aesthetics. More importantly, rust can reduce the strength of the steel structure, which may cause severe consequence in the future such as building failure. Therefore, rust prevention is vital to the lifespan of coastal houses.
Suggestions on Rust Prevention
Here are some suggestions on how to protect the steel frame in coastal areas.
- Galvanized steel is a common material used in the coastal area for rust prevention. The zinc covering the steel can provide reliable protection for the base steel inside from corrosion. Avoid rough washing of the galvanized steel for the potential of removing the protective surface. Instead, rinse with water (not salt water) regularly to maintain the protection.
- Painting steel is one of the most common forms of prevention, and painting over a previously coated protective layer can add an additional resistance. Usually, the coatings include primers, intermediate coats, or finish coats. The common coatings for coastal residential houses are alkyd enamels and epoxy coatings. Alkyd enamels can resist the corrosion for up to 3-5 years and epoxy can last even longer time. Since the coatings will typically wear down a few years after installation, constant inspection and maintenance are needed throughout the steel’s life.
- To ensure building durability, it’s recommended to use stainless steel fixings (fasteners or screws). Stainless steel is known to have better performance for rust prevention.
- Regular inspection and maintenance are vital for any home and more important for beachfront property. Check if there is any rust or damage on the surface making the steel exposed to the air and surf.
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Written by Ming Yang.
Last updated: 6 September 2018