Anytime there is metal involved in a project, there is a possibility of rust. This can present a challenge to the appearance of the project and the piece’s overall structural integrity. When iron is exposed to oxygen through air or water, rust and corrosion may take hold. There are a few ways to combat rust, but it is best to prevent it from forming in the first place.
Ways to Prevent Rust
Here are a few suggestions for how you can work to keep rust and corrosion from destroying your project.
Use Rust and Corrosion Resistant Alloys
Certain metals, such as stainless steel, are naturally resistant to rust because of their chemical makeup. For example, stainless steels have chromium added to them. The chromium combines with oxygen to form a passive layer that protects the steel from corrosion. What’s really great about this protective layer is that it can fix itself if damaged. However, this does not mean that stainless steel is completely impervious to corrosion, as exposure to extreme environments (such as saltwater) can still cause stainless steel to corrode. Before you begin a project, it is important to weigh your options regarding what metals and materials you will use and how they interact with the given environment in which they will exist.
Another option is to use weathering steel, also known as “COR-TEN” steel. This steel contains various alloys such as chromium, nickel, copper, and phosphorus that create a protective patina that can greatly reduce the corrosion rate.
Aside from choosing a corrosion-resistant metal, a lot can be accomplished to combat rust through smart design. No matter the structure you are creating, limit the number of cavities and crevices in which water could easily collect. It is better to weld joints than to bolt them together as water can penetrate the spaces underneath bolts and washers and eventually cause them to fail. It would help if you also prioritized making all spaces open to making future maintenance as easy as possible, so rust can be addressed as soon as it is discovered.
Painting is a great, low-cost way to protect against rust. The paint forms a protective barrier between the metal and corrosive elements. Oil-based paints are the best choice if you try to prevent water and oxygen from penetrating the metal and causing corrosion. Keep in mind that you will have to monitor the quality of the paint regularly. As soon as the paint chips or becomes damaged, the metal underneath will become more susceptible to corrosion.
Another great option to protect your piece is to have it powder coated. This is when applying a dry powder via spraying and then heating it, so it forms a thin, protective film.
At Yarbrough Industries, we have experts to help you through the process to ensure your project lasts.
Make sure to contact us about any metal fabrication and machining questions you may have!