When you are looking to renovate your house by the coast or have bought a plot of land where you plan to build a house, you need to know what will work. A common issue with coastal areas is the rapid degradation of metals thanks to the air and water salt.
The best metal to work with on its own is aluminum, as it will not rust through even when covered with saltwater. If you have to use multiple metals, bronze, brass, and 316 stainless steel will be able to resist the coastal salt winds and rains without rusting through completely.
There are several reasons why metals rust and degrade so much faster at the coast, and understanding why can help you prevent further damage. The way the metal reacts with salt in the air and water is unique and has created some of the hardest challenges for engineers worldwide.
What Metals Hold Up The Best Near Seawater?
We would recommend using six metals when you are building near the coast; each one is meant to help overcome not being able to use normal metals. When working with metals and the coast, there are clear limitations to what is possible and not possible.
We always recommend that people consider this when creating and working on their projects. This will help prevent them from having a negative influence on other metals and prevent corrosion from traveling into spots that could cause structural weakness throughout your home.
Brass is the best metal to use near the coast because it is an alloy of several metals that cannot rust, with the right mixture being extremely strong. Instead, the brass discolors, with only a thin layer of oxidization forming on the top layers of the brass.
This creates a metal that can withstand most of the pressure and corrosion that coastal areas have. Many people prefer to use brass with their fittings and lights, preventing them from being damaged, with some homes having brass shingles to protect the roof from rain and water.
Where brass is a mixture that almost has a gold shine when it is brand new, bronze is an alloy of materials that looks a lot redder. This metal is also extremely corrosion-resistant and, when mixed right, can be as hard as hardened metal, making it a good alternative for smaller projects.
Often you can find that bronze is used as the material used to support small structures or even used for everyday furniture that needs to withstand the ocean air. We’ve seen several people with bronze pieces throughout their coastal homes simply because it is the best alternative to steel.
316 Stainless Steel
Normal stainless steel will rust almost as fast as normal metal would when used on the coast, so 316 stainless steel was made. Containing chromium, nickel, and 3% molybdenum, the stainless steel has been specifically designed in coastal areas and for ocean fairing vessels.
This stainless steel can usually last for several years when not protected and battered by the ocean air and will last several lifetimes if it is constantly given a fresh coat of paint. Because it is steel, it is now the go-to steel to use when working or building things along the coast.
Titanium is completely corrosion resistant in even the worst conditions and will naturally not rust or even be damaged by saltwater. However, before you start planning your perfect titanium house, it should be noted that the material is extremely hard to work with and also extremely expensive.
Titanium is used more to reinforce other materials, with only a few newer techniques allowing people to use it however they want to use it. At the ocean, you will find that some titanium alloys and coatings are used to help metals stay rust-free.
The most used metal along the coast will usually be aluminum, with everything from chairs to light fixtures made from the material. Aluminum is considered an inexpensive metal to use that will be resistant to rust and corrosion caused by coastal air and saltwater.
Most homes will have aluminum siding and other things made out of aluminum to keep the saltwater at bay. The biggest downside to aluminum is that it is not strong enough to replace steel and metal completely, which means that you will still need to work with other alternatives to build.
Copper is often overlooked when it comes to building material, but when it is used properly, it can work to protect other metals and materials from salty coastal air. Copper does not rust when exposed to water or salt water and will create a thick green layer of oxidization.
This protects the copper and anything that the copper is over from rusting and other salty water, with many specifically using copper plated shingles. However, copper can chemically react with some materials and metals, especially aluminum, limiting how and where it can be used.
Does Stainless Steel Rust At The Coast?
Normal stainless steel will rust when used at the coast; the stainless steel may take longer to rust than most other metals. This happens because stainless steel is just a mixture of different metals, with the main ingredient being normal metal.
Chromium and carbon are the most common materials added to metal to make stainless steel, but this does not change the aspects of the metal enough to prevent rust. Instead, it makes the metal much harder and resistant to heat, creating stainless steel used in cookware or knives.
However, when working with stainless steel at the coast, a mixture is needed that can resist rusting in the salt air. Salt in the air and the water increases the oxidization rate of metal, which means that the material added to the stainless-steel mixture needs to actively negate this effect.
Does Aluminum Rust In Salt Air?
Aluminum does not rust in salt air; instead, it reacts with the salt and oxygen in the air to create an oxidized layer. This layer prevents the rest of the aluminum from rusting, essentially creating a protective skin across the aluminum that prevents the rest of it from being rusted.
Further, when painted, the aluminum does not create this protective layer of rust but can help to ensure that rust does not cause damage to the paint. Many people assume a damaging layer of rust on aluminum is there to protect the aluminum from rusting.
Often people will claim that aluminum has rusted around bolts and other exposed areas of the aluminum piece that has rusted. This is a chemical reaction between aluminum and most other metals where the introduction of water causes an effect similar to electroplating.
Which Materials Are Suitable For Coastal Areas?
Now that we know what kinds of metals will work in coastal areas, we need to look at what kinds of other materials are suitable to be used with them. The best way to have metals last seemingly forever is to use them in combination with other materials that protect them from the elements.
Using plastic or clay materials will help prevent the worst rust from forming on metals and ensure that the metal stays strong enough to work continually. We always recommend considering this when you live next to the coast or close to it, as it can help keep the metals strong.
The most often used material in the modern world when something needs to be protected in some way is plastic. Not only can it be molded around any metallic shape, but plastic that has been treated to withstand sunlight can also take several decades to properly degrade and become unusable.
However, it should be noted that plastic pollution has increased drastically, so finding a way to reuse plastic has become a lot more popular. Remember that every waste piece of plastic you create will eventually end up back on your plate, just at a microscopic level.
Many people assume that natural material means dirt or grass; this is not true as refined natural materials not only have the same effect as some plastics but work better. Something that will work in the short term is wax, whereas natural biodegradable plastic can last for several decades.
Instead, we recommend finding materials that are naturally occurring in the surroundings in your country. This can help keep the metals you are using safe from the worst storms without causing a probably ecological disaster that will affect your children or grandchildren.
Clay is probably one of the most versatile natural materials you can find almost anywhere on earth. If you are looking for a good metal replacement when building your house or just for a project, most clay can be shaped and hardened into any shape you can imagine or need.
It is important to remember that clay tiles for your house might be more expensive but have been proven to be one of the best ways to protect your house. The clay regulates heat and cold without a problem and will not break down over time; instead, they are usually damaged by hail or massive storms.
When you are afraid that metals will rust or react with each other, one of the easiest and best alternatives that you can use is wood. Wood houses, wood benches, and even wood siding can comfortably replace most things that are made out of metal.
Many coastal homes are specifically built out of clay or wood because traditional techniques used in the middle of a country are no longer effective. This means that you can safely use wood as an alternative, with most builders along coasts knowing exactly which wood types work best for the area.
When done properly, concrete and reinforced concrete will work perfectly fine along any coastline because the metal rods inside are protected. Many people assume that salt air and water can penetrate the concrete and create problems.
However, when done properly, the concrete and cement will seal the metal completely, with no metal sticking out where it can rust. It should be noted that concrete along the coast should be inspected yearly to seal any cracks and spot problems before they happen.
Normal plywood would not last long when used along the coast; the high humidity would cause the plywood to swell significantly. Most coastal areas have treated plywood that has been made to specifically resist the high humidity and salty air that are always present.
This is often why you will find that plywood is more expensive along the coast, as normal plywood would not be usable in most situations. Instead, treated plywood will be required to ensure that you have something that won’t start degrading when you take it out of the climate-controlled store.
Why Do Some Metals Rust Faster Along with The Coast Than In Sea Water?
Something that people have noticed in recent years is that metal will be fine when submerged in the ocean but will start rusting when not permanently submerged. There are several reasons why this happens, with the most common being the available oxygen in the air.
When something is submerged in saltwater salt, other minerals can start packing up on it, creating a layer of protectiveness around the metal. However, when left in the wind and rain, the metal will be constantly washed with rain and covered with salt by the wind.
This creates an effect where some metals rust faster when left next to the ocean than they would in the ocean itself. When something is painted, this effect is increased and changed, creating rust patterns that are unique to each situation.
The best metals for the coast are metals that have been specifically made to withstand the high salt levels in the air and the humidity. If you are not sure which metals will work, we recommend talking to a local hardware store; they will know which metals will not rust within weeks.
Just remember that your car will only really be safe if you keep it perfectly painted!
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