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What Are the Different Uses of Galvanized Metal?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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When a metal product is designed to be used outdoors, it is often manufactured in such a way that it will be able to resist rust and corrosion from constant contact with the elements. One such process for preventing rust and corrosion is galvanization, which involves coating iron, steel, or aluminum with a protective layer of zinc. Galvanized metal can be used for countless outdoor applications, though this metal is not limited only to outdoor use. Galvanized metal can be used for any application that requires moisture resistance, so components within the home or within buildings may also feature metal that has been galvanized.

Perhaps the most recognizable galvanized metal that most people are familiar with is chain link fencing. Such fencing can be seen at local parks in the form of baseball backstops, or around homes and businesses as perimeter fencing. It is possible to recognize galvanized metal fencing by taking a close look at the posts and chain links: they will often have a dull gray appearance, but they will also have a crystallized appearance that is the result of the zinc coating interacting with oxygen after the galvanization process.

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Galvanized metal buckets are also commonly used in industrial settings as well as in gardens and around the yard. These buckets can come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses to accommodate different carrying needs. Most buckets will carry liquids at some point, so galvanization is exceptionally advantageous for prolonging the life of the bucket. Various tools that are used around the home or garden can also be made from galvanized metal, since many of these tools will come in contact with soil that contains varying levels of moisture.

Corrugated roofing panels are often galvanized to resist rust and corrosion from rainfall or snowfall. This is a relatively inexpensive roofing option that is very suitable for flat-topped buildings such as factories and warehouses. Similar types of corrugated galvanized metal panels are used in the construction of concrete structures. The panels can be used as temporary supports known as formwork. The formwork may also be a permanent feature that is left in place after the concrete sets, but more often, the forms are removed to allow the concrete to stand on its own. The metal forms can be cleaned off and reused numerous times, and they will be less susceptible to water damage from the setting concrete.

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jdfields
Post 4

Galvanized steel mainly used for around homes and businesses as perimeter fencing.

MrsPramm
Post 3
A tip I found while researching this -- it might look better when you buy something that is a very shiny metal, but if it's for use outside you need to make sure it hasn't been electroplated. That's a different kind of galvanization, because it adds a layer of another metal to protect the iron, but the layer is very thin.

It's the "hot dip" galvanization that adds the crystal markings and makes the metal look dull, but that will last much, much longer in outdoor conditions.

With that said, sometimes an item is shiny because it's pure stainless steel rather than because they tried to use a cheaper process in galvanizing it. You can tell by putting a magnet on the metal. If it sticks, it's probably not stainless steel.

Fa5t3r
Post 2

@Mor - Actually, I think the opposite is true. When I was living in Africa, doing some aid work in a poor community, they mostly used plastic buckets. Everyone had plastic buckets to use at the local well and they used plastic for things like watering cans as well.

It's more likely that a properly made galvanized steel bucket will last longer and be more hygienic than a plastic bucket, since it would be more resistant to scratching, and that's why you associate it with farms.

Mor
Post 1

I never realized that crystalline appearance that galvanized metal has was just something that happened when they made it. I actually thought it was on purpose so that the objects looked a little bit nicer. I guess you live and learn.

I associate those buckets with farms or low income areas for some reason. I guess maybe galvanized metal buckets are cheaper than plastic buckets.

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