Perhaps you’re considering constructing a bridge and you’re coming across terms like weathering steel, galvanizing steel, or corten steel, but you aren’t entirely sure what it is. Here at U.S. Bridge, we’ve built vast arrays of bridges for different locations across the nation. So we’ve created a guide to help you decide if weathering steel is the right step for your building project. Learn all about weathering steel in this article.
What is Weathering Steel?
Many builders choose this material for its durable and ductile features. Weathering steel is a low-carbon metal that contains additional alloy elements, including nickel and copper, which provides the metal better strength and resilience to corrosion. In addition, it is more affordable than other substances such as galvanized steel. Of course, this material isn’t ideal for every project or location.
Things to consider for Weathering Steel
The Pros of Weathering
The most notable component of weathering steel is its ability to resist corrosion. For this reason, it is a popular choice for exposed steel bridges or buildings. Weathering steel undergoes a process known as useful corrosion. While rusting is a problematic and even dangerous occurrence with other steel structures, it actually protects the material from further deterioration. Rust will only form in the outer layer of the steel which will then turn into a protective barrier that aids the resistance of future corrosion.
Additionally, the material requires little maintenance which is not only beneficial for rural or limited access areas but it also saves money in the long run. In studies, weathering steel has lasted several decades with minimal maintenance. And since the repair tends to be less involved, these bridges cost less over their lifetime than those made with other materials.
As a bonus, these structures don’t need paint for either protection or aesthetic reasons. Many people find the rust patina of this material to be attractive on its own and it helps avoid Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from paint coatings.
The Cons of Weathering
Although weathering steel may sound ideal, there are a few factors that should be considered before construction. Certain weather and climate conditions can lead to issues with durability and corrosive resistance. For example, weathering steel should not be built in a high-chlorine environment.
In addition, it functions best with alternative wet and dry condition cycles. If the environment is continuously wet or damp such as submerged in water or buried under soil then it impedes the steel’s ability to effectively resist corrosion.
While many appreciate the aesthetic of its natural rust-like patina, it also creates an opportunity of staining nearby structures; so it’s best to keep it away from concrete or other easily-blemished materials.
Contact U.S. Bridge Today
Are you looking for a company to assist with your building projects? Here at U.S. Bridge we know that choosing the right material for your bridge takes a combination of experience, expertise, and skill. The goal is to ensure the final product is complete on time and it matches your exact specifications.
To learn more about our steel bridge engineering and manufacturing, contact us for a quote or to answer any questions. Or you can scope and start building the bridge on your own with our U.S. Bridge Project Scope.