February 24

4 Criteria for Painting Steel Bridges and Other Metal Structures

Metal Painting

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Steel is the most commonly used metal in exterior structures. It is chosen for its strength, low cost, and ease of manipulation. Besides bridges, steel is used in other metal structures such as railings, beams, overpasses, fences, and more.

Unfortunately, when left unprotected, steel structures rust in almost all environments. They rust rapidly when exposed to harsh chemicals, atmospheric salt, corrosive solutions, caustic solutions, and damp environments.  Painting steel is an effective way to protect the surface and make it more appealing.

Today’s coating systems reliably protect the steel while enhancing the appearance. Paint manufacturers continue to improve their products in regard to durability, sheen, and aesthetics.  

To ensure the long-term performance of the paint applied to metal structures, the painters must be knowledgeable of the products, have the right tools and equipment to prepare surfaces properly, and provide quality control through every step of the process.  That’s why it’s strongly recommended to hire professional painters experienced in painting metal surfaces.

Protecting Metal Structures

Structural steel is cost-effective, easily adaptable, durable, and low maintenance. One of the greatest benefits of using steel for different structures is that its service life can be extended significantly when it is coated with the right paint.

When it comes to metal structures, the key to their durability and longevity lies in recognizing the corrosivity of the environment and using the appropriate paint products and supplies.

1. Level of Corrosiveness

Pollutants in the atmosphere can accelerate rusting, making a steel bridge or metal structure’s appearance unattractive. Any material made with iron that is exposed to both oxygen and water will rust. Because steel is made almost entirely of iron, it is the most highly manufactured man-made material that is subject to rust. 

When steel rusts, it undergoes a chemical reaction called corrosion. This process occurs when a metal is being exposed to air and water while being in the elements for an extended time. Rust only forms on the outside of a metal surface because of the exposure to oxygen and water to rust.

How quickly steel corrodes depends on how much steel is exposed to moisture, the levels of both moisture and air, and whether or not any protective coatings are present.

2. Surface Preparation

In the process of protecting steel structures, surface preparation is vitally important before any coating systems or paints are applied. The reason surface preparation is so important to completely removes any dust, dirt, or debris to ensure good adhesion of a protective paint coating. 

Accumulated dirt and debris can hold moisture and allow corrosion to occur even on a dry day. Using a hose or pressure washer to clean up dirty areas around metallic surfaces can help avoid rusting and remove dirt to ensure a long-lasting finish.

3. Prime Time

The purpose of the primer coat is to make sure good adhesion for the coats of paint that follow it and to provide corrosion inhibition. Paint systems today use zinc primers with additional coatings of epoxy and urethane paints.  The zinc will protect the steel from corrosion, while the topcoats protect the prime coat.

4. The Right Paint and Coating

The final coat of paint is to provide the required appearance of steelwork.  It also becomes the first line of defense against the elements and sunlight. Whether it’s an existing or new steel structure being painted, advanced corrosion-resistant paint can:

control steelwork corrosion and enhance the durability of different steel structures by providing adequate protection even in the most corrosive environments;

comply with the environmental, health, and safety standards for hazardous air pollutants; and

improve the aesthetics of different metal structures.

High-Quality Finishes by Metal Painting Professionals

If you are looking to protect your investment by coating your steel structures, look to ACP Painting, LLC. We are a highly experienced and qualified painting contractor with a good track record of painting metal structures.  Our projects are completed on time and on budget.

We use the most environmentally friendly techniques and materials whenever possible, without compromising the quality and longevity of our finished projects.

Our work is conducted by professionals safely and effectively. We will give you recommendations on the appropriate coatings to use so you can make the best decisions based on exposure, longevity, and cost.

The goal at ACP is to provide the best steel structure painting services to building and facility owners, city managers, and HOAs. Get your steel or metal structure the protection it needs.




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