Choosing Hardware That Won’t Rust for Hurricane-Prone Areas
You’ve been hunkered down for the last two days while the wind and rain ripped past your house, but it’s time to head outside to view the damage. A few shutters are swinging, part of your fence came down, and your mailbox went AWOL. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed in a weekend, right? Then you find the pergola you worked so hard to build a few years ago. It’s still upright, but it looks like it could come down at any minute. If you’ve been through a few hurricanes, you can probably blame the fasteners.
We all know hurricanes can cause serious damage, and we board up our windows, tie down items outside, and even stock up on non-perishables and water. But when you live in an area that regularly feels the effects of hurricanes, there are other, less obvious measures you should take to prepare. The type of fasteners and hardware you use on your deck, pergola, and other projects can affect how long those outdoor fixtures last and whether they’ll survive the next storm. What you want is hardware that won’t rust, and we’re going to talk about how to find it.
How Hurricanes Affect Your Outdoor Projects
The states most vulnerable to hurricanes are Louisiana, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Maryland. This includes most of the East Coast and gulf states.
Because hurricanes tend to affect coastal areas, they can bring a lot of saltwater onto your property. This can mean serious problems for the metal hardware in your deck, railings, and fencing, since salt water is extremely corrosive. When your hardware is submerged under water, as can happen in flood-prone areas, corrosion becomes even more of a concern, as saltwater will greatly accelerate corrosion of anything submerged in it.
If you live further inland, saltwater corrosion shouldn’t be an issue, but your fasteners’ durability and resistance to rust will still be important in order to help them stand up to rain and strong winds.
What Are Your Choices for Hardware That Won’t Rust?
There are a few different kinds of corrosion-resistant hardware and fasteners, but it should be noted that nothing is truly corrosion proof. A piece of metal may last for decades, but nature will win eventually.
- Hot-Dip Galvanization (HDG) is a common, cheap metal treatment that helps steel resist corrosion. In this process, the item in question is dipped in molten zinc to create an even coat. This type of coating is widely considered the shortest-lived when compared to other types. This is because the coating is sacrificial in design and is meant to wear away over time. This will expose the steel, and bare steel is extremely susceptible to corrosion and rust.
- One common alternative to HDG steel components is stainless steel, a metal specifically designed to be corrosion resistant. Since the entire piece is made up of a corrosion-resistant metal and doesn’t have a coating, it has a much greater longevity than galvanized steel. There are many grades or types of stainless steel, and their resistance to water and corrosion varies. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, look for 316-grade stainless steel, as its high molybdenum content makes it very corrosion resistant. However, stainless steel will still corrode with time, albeit many years after HDG fasteners are reduced to rust. Quality does come at a cost, since the process of manufacturing stainless steel is much more complicated than forging steel or dipping it in zinc. It is also harder to machine and heavier to ship. All these characteristics can have an impact on your wallet.
- Another option commonly chosen for its durability is specially-coated hardware. This includes HDG steel and aluminum hardware finished with a powder paint coating. The powder coating offers an additional layer of protection for your hardware, and creates a piece that is decorative as well as practical. Polymer coatings are also corrosion resistant, and are especially useful on hardware like timber screws, as their slick top coat makes them easier to drive into wood. Many builders prefer to use screws that are polymer coated, rather than HDG, since the galvanization process undoes the tempering of the steel, weakening the screw. Polymer-coated screws, on the other hand, are corrosion resistant while retaining their tempering.
So, What Type of Metal Should You Use?
First of all, you’ll want to keep in mind that mixing two different types of fasteners so they come in contact with each other is unwise, and it’s especially important to avoid this when you’re in a hurricane-prone area. When dissimilar metals come into contact with each other, a new type of corrosion occurs called galvanic corrosion. This type of corrosion is actually sped up by the presence of saltwater.
As long as you don’t mix metals, both stainless steel and specially coated fasteners are good choices for hurricane-prone areas. While both these types of products can be more expensive than others, if your home is going to be consistently exposed to hurricane conditions and salinity, these are your best bet when you’re looking for hardware that won’t rust or break down. If you go cheap on these small—but critical—pieces, you will most likely be paying to replace them or your structure after a few years.
Our choice, when it comes down to stainless or specially coated, is coated, because of the unique and decorative designs available. While stainless steel has a very practical, industrial look to it, specially coated components can be designed to resemble wrought iron and come in various designs to suit the style of your deck, fence, or gate.
Looking for Top Quality Fasteners?
When you’re living in an area that’s subject to hurricanes, you’re likely already doing more maintenance on your home than people in other parts of the country. But don’t forget to keep an eye on the hardware on your decks and outdoor fixtures, or you may come outside to the sight of a collapsed pergola or arbor. If you’re looking to upgrade existing hardware or you want to start your project with the most durable and attractive fasteners out there, check out the selection at OZCO Building Products. They sell hot-dipped galvanized and powder-coated decorative hardware and heavy duty washers, as well as polymer-coated corrosion-resistant timber screws and powder-coated cast aluminum hex cap nuts. Each of their pieces of hardware is made using the type of metal and coating treatment that best suits its purpose, and each piece is specifically designed to work with every other.