Structural steel has become the top building material for designers worldwide for a number of reasons. Many builders rely on steel because of its strength, versatility, recyclability, and cost-effectiveness, but they need to account for one drawback — corrosion. Metal is reactive to oxygen and water, promoting oxidization to enhance the onset of rust. In steel structure design, corrosion is among the only factors which can affect your building’s longevity. It is important to take the proper steps to encase your steel components for the best long-term results, especially in areas prone to moisture.

Sanilac Steel is here to provide the best results to all of our clients, relying on our training and experience to get the job done in the safest and most effective way possible. Our structural steel fabricators work across Michigan to provide comprehensive services ranging from steel structure design and fabrication to erection, maintenance, and more. 

Today, we’ll touch on the value of encasing your structural steel in a protective coating for long-lasting strength and versatility. If you’re ready to see how we can enhance your project, feel free to reach out to our steel fabrication company in Marlette today!

The Need for Protection

Coating your steel structure in a protective layer can do much to keep the metal free from rust, increasing your building’s lifespan in a way that also cuts down on maintenance needs. When it comes to protecting steel from the heavy moisture conditions Michigan is known for, two primary methods are available to get the job done.

Metal Coatings

Galvanization is an integral part of steel protection, as products are hot-dipped for a uniform layer of protection. Coating your metal with materials such as zinc can do much to increase durability and resistance to damage and corrosion. Many builders rely on this process to create the best level of protection before their steel leaves the factory. Since dipping is required in a molten bath, there will likely be restrictions on the size and shape of products you are coating with metal.


Classically consisting of upwards of six coats, older paints have provided long-lasting protection to seal the surface of your structural steel and keep moisture infiltration away. Today, many builders rely on more advanced paint to apply thicker layers in fewer coats.

The paint deployed for structural steel relies on a specific blend of pigments, solvents, and binders to create long-lasting protection. Each layer in your paint will provide a specific outcome:

  1. Primer — The first layer of your paint coating will be added to clean steel. This is the final line of defense from corrosion, and provides an ideal surface for future layers to adhere to.
  2. Intermediate coats — Used as the body of the paint system, these intermediate coats provide added protection while personalising the thickness of your surface. The materials used in your intermediate layers can greatly affect the structure’s lifespan.
  3. Finish coat — As the name implies, this layer of paint provides the outer layer of protection in a manner that improves effectiveness, and in many cases, aesthetics.
  4. Stripe coat — Stripe coats are necessary in specialized locations, including fasteners, external corners, and welds. This layer provides the right level of thickness in areas were movement and airflow can thin the final product.

Painting your structural steel components can help to keep moisture and oxygen away while increasing their tensile strength in the process. 

Coatings in the Factory Versus On-Site

Beyond the method of application, where you apply your protective coating will play a large role in the longevity of your structural steel components. Painted coatings can be applied before construction, or added once construction is underway. If you plan on painting your steel structure, keep in mind that ambient conditions can greatly affect the outcome.

Temperature and humidity are integral in determining your route for a high-quality finish, as excess moisture and colder temps (both frequently found in Michigan) can slow progress and impact the cure quality. Conversely, uncontrollably high temps can lead to excess drying and product inconsistencies. It’s important to get the job done right, which means you’ll need a trustworthy steel fabrication company to pull it all together!

Contact Sanilac Steel Today!

Steel’s strength and durability has helped to make it the top material of choice for builders worldwide, with corrosion being its only measurable downfall. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you are investing in the right coatings to keep your structure protected for decades to come.

Sanilac Steel is here to deliver top-notch results for projects of all scopes and sizes, relying on our proven training and technology to ensure your steel structure is built to last. Our structural steel fabricators in Michigan can create materials designed to match all of your needs, including protection from corrosion. Contact us today to learn more, and be sure to request your project quote. We look forward to working with you!