camping

Steel in Camping Equipment: What is it Used For

Summer is officially here and that means it is time to get out and explore the world around us. Many people take advantage of the warmer weather by going camping. Did you know that steel is found on a lot of your must-have camping equipment? Let’s take a look at some steel camping equipment!

Campfire Grill or Portable BBQ Grill

Embed from Getty Images
One of the more obvious places to find steel on your camping equipment is on your campfire grills and BBQ grills. Powder-coated steel and aluminized steel are the most common types of steel used for grills. These types of steel can withstand the heat from the fire and are very durable to help the grill last a long time.

Enamelware/Outdoor Dinnerware

Embed from Getty Images
In case you prefer not to use disposable products, most outdoor dinnerware is also made out of steel. This is because steel is durable, easy to clean, safe to heat, and long lasting. Enamelware is metal that has been coated in a porcelain lining. It is also idea for camping because it is lightweight and budget friendly. It shouldn’t be too hard to find, either. Enamelware is incredibly trendy at the moment.

Coffee Pot

Embed from Getty Images
If you’re anything like me, a hot beverage in the morning is a necessity. Especially when camping. Nothing completes a perfect morning of cool mountain air, watching the sunrise than a hot cup of Joe. So, you’ll need a metal coffee pot to place on the fire. Most camping coffee pots are made of stainless steel and may or may not come with an enameled layer.

Marshmallow Roasters

Embed from Getty Images
One of the best parts of camping is starting a fire and roasting marshmallows. And, it today’s world you no longer have to search the woods for the perfect roasting stick that will possibly catch on fire halfway through your s’more making. Roasting sticks can be found at just about any big box store, grocery store, and many convenience stores. They are made from stainless steel with a wood, plastic, or rubber handle for safety.

These are just some of the places you can find steel in your camping equipment. If you look around, it is probably used in some way from your tent to your cooler. Now get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

To learn more about the types of steel Metalwest offers, contact your local sales representative.

weathering steel

Weathering Steel: What is it?

Weathering steel, commonly referred to as A606 steel, has recently gained popularity in the architectural world for its distinctive orange-brown oxide (or rust) finish. This layer of rust aids in the resistance to corrosive elements. When weathering steel is produced, it is not rusted. It gradually develops the rust-like appearance as it is exposed to the elements over time.

But, how does it develop the layer of rust and how does that actually aid in corrosion resistance? Let’s find out!

How Weathering Steel Works

Embed from Getty Images
Unlike most corrosion resistant steels that resist rust, weathering steel does rust. However, it only rusts on the outer layer and will not penetrate into the steel once the initial layer has formed. With weathering steel, the layer of rust acts as a barrier to protect the steel from corrosion, whereas with other metals the rust is porous and breaks off allowing another layer to form. The specific alloying elements in the steel produce a stable layer of rust that adheres to the base metal and isn’t as porous as typical rust.

Benefits of Weathering Steel

Weathering steel has many benefits, which make it ideal for architecture.

  • Resists further rusting and staining
  • A high strength low alloy steel (HSLA)
  • Heat and corrosion resistant
  • Ease of formability
  • Low maintenance
  • Long-term performance
  • Environmentally friendly and can be recycled

What is Weathering Steel Used For?

Embed from Getty Images
Because it is corrosion resistant, weathering style is frequently used for exposed structures. These can include bridges, building siding and roofing panels, truck and bus frames, as well as metal sculptures. It was initially used in the 1930s for ore wagons to help them resist corrosion. With its unique finish, it also eliminates the need for repainting or recoating of the steel.

There are elements that weathering steel can’t withstand, however. It shouldn’t be used for applications that will be exposed to chlorine. Chlorine will cause the rusted surface to corrode and can lead to premature failure of the material.

At Metalwest we stock A606 Type 4 in coil and sheet. For more information on product availability, contact your local sales representative as it may very between branches

Hot Rolled Steel: What it is Used For

I know you are very interested in learning about what hot rolled steel is used for. But guess what Buzz readers, it is actually used for some interesting applications.

Like we discussed in the Hot Rolled Steel: How it is Made post, hot rolled steel is the most basic form of steel a mill produces. Due to its lackluster surface finish it is typically used in applications in which the finish isn’t critical to the project.

While the word “lackluster” is something most people would use to describe this dull, boring type of steel, it is actually one of the more interesting in appearance (besides galvanized which we will get to later). Hot rolled dry sheets and coil are a darker grey than most other steel types and have a silvery blue, almost purple strip along both sides. The color of the strip makes the steel’s surface appear as if it is still hot to the touch. However, this is a result of the hot rolling process and the left-over mill scale.

Alchemical Sentinels by Thierry Ehrmann- hot rolled steel sculpture

Alchemical Sentinels by
Thierry Ehrmann via Flickr 12/7/11.

Art Sculptures

Because of the unique finish, hot rolled dry is one of the most commonly used steel types for art sculptures (besides stainless steel). The variations of color along the steel sheets provide for character throughout the sculpture.

The down side to hot roll dry is that because it does not have a finish it is prone to rusting. However, you may notice a sculpture in a hotel lobby, airport, or office building that appears to have a rusted finish. The sculpture was likely built from hot rolled dry and allowed to rust before adding a protective finish (or it could have just been sandblasted to look like rust, either way it is likely still hot rolled).

Truck Frames and Automotivehot rolled steel dump truck

Okay, so maybe you aren’t an art enthusiast. Hot rolled is also used for truck frames and automobile seat frames. For this application the metal typically goes through the processes of pickle and oiling (P&O) before it is used to help prevent rusting and allow for painting.

Hot Rolled Pickle and Oiling Process

The P&O process is a mill scale cleansing that removes the black oxide scale. After the P&O process, an enhanced surface finish is applied and the material is now known as hot rolled P&O.

Hot rolled P&O has a smoother, more even finish. It no longer has prominent, colorful strips along the sides and is slightly less dark in color.

hot rolled steel argriculture equipment with SkipAgriculture Equipment

So you’re not into art or automotive, well then maybe you’re a farmer. Hot rolled steel is used widely in agriculture equipment because of its high strength level and formability. The formability of hot rolled P&O can be simple bends to complex draws depending on the steel grade. Harvesters, tractors, and other farm machinery all require the strength that hot rolled offers. Next time you are harvesting your grains, remember you are probably riding on a big green hot rolled machine (red in this case).

None of these areas interest you? Well, lucky for you there are other uses for hot rolled and hot rolled P&O, including water heaters, railcar components and railroad equipment, guard rails, doors, shelving and many more.

Metal roofing coils at OFR Metals

Metal Roofing: What Options Are There?

In a previous post we talked a little bit about the 5 Benefits to Metal Roofing. We discussed the durability and protection it provides, how it is energy efficient, and about the aesthetics. But, what material options are available for your metal roof?

In this post we will delve into a few of the metal roofing products that are used and some of their specifications.

Metal roofing coils at OFR Metals

Metal Roofing Materials

Let’s start with some of the more well-known types of metals first.

Aluminum

Aluminum comes in a variety of different alloys and finishes. At OFR Metals, we offer 3003 H14, 5052 H32, painted aluminum, and anodized aluminum for roofing needs. Aluminum is the most common metal material used for roofing due to its corrosion resistance and formability.

You can learn about how aluminum is made here.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is typically used when corrosion resistance is a primary requirement. Types 304 2B and 316 2B provide excellent corrosion resistance which extends the lifespan of the roof.  Stainless steel has greater mechanical properties than other roofing metals so it is important to have plenty of horsepower and tooling to form it.

To learn about how stainless steel is made, check out our blog post.

A606

A606 steel is a High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) steel, also known as a weathering steel. The material composition leads to the development of an orange-brown oxide film (rust) on the steel that aids in the resistance from corrosive elements.

Cold Rolled

Cold rolled steel is hot rolled pickled carbon steel that has been cold reduced and annealed.  You can learn more about this in our blog post about how cold rolled steel is made.

For roofing, cold rolled steel is a bit easier to form than A606 and produces a similar rustic, non-reflective appearance.

Galvanized

Galvanized steel is another of the more common metals used for metal roofing applications. Just like aluminum, galvanized is not only found in the roofing panels, but is also used for roofing applications such as chimneys, gutters, etc. It is resistant to corrosive environments and lends itself to most fabrication processes. It is also readily paintable, which makes it ideal for roofing applications.

Many people know galvanized steel by its spangle finish, but do you know how it gets that finish? Find out here.

Galvalume®

Galvalume® is a carbon steel that has been coated with aluminum-zinc alloy after going through a continuous hot-dip process. The coating composition is 55% aluminum and 45% zinc. It is ideally suited for most types of roofing and siding applications due to its versatility, ease of use, and long-term performance.

Galvalume® looks similar to galvanized steel, but the spangle pattern is smaller and closer together which gives it a smoother appearance.

Paintgrip/Bonderized

Paintgrip is galvanized steel that has been put through a phosphate bath, or bonderized, that adds a coating over the zinc. It also has a layer of Chromate applied. The coating preps the surface for painting without further preparation. It can also be used without the paint to allow for it to weather.

Kynar®/SMP

Kynar 500® is a resin-based coating that provides protection to aluminum and coated steel. It is a high-performance fluoropolymer resin that keeps the paint on roofing and siding systems vibrant. It also offers fade resistance.

Siliconized Modified Polyester (SMP) is close to Kynar in durability. It is a two-coat finish for aluminum and Galvalume®. The coating provides excellent scratch resistance.

For more information on both products check out our metal roofing products page.

So, as you can see there are a lot of options to consider for your next roofing project. Each brings a specific quality to the table, whether you need corrosion resistance, a rustic aesthetic, or a long-lasting finish.

Metalwest stocks all of these products, however, availability may vary depending on location. For more information on what products are offered near you, contact your local sales representative.

school supplies

Steel in School: What it is Used For

It is back to school time for most of the country and that means school supplies, new classrooms, a new locker assignment, and the start of extracurricular activities. So, what does this have to do with steel? Well, lot’s actually!
Steel is used in a multitude of everyday objects, including school-related items.

School Supplies

While it is typically not used in a large quantity in school supplies, steel can still be found on quite a few items, including:

  • Notebooks
  • Pencil boxes
  • Around pencil erasers
  • Tape dispensers
  • Staplers
  • Teachers’ paper boxes
  • Water bottles

In the Classroom

Steel is also found throughout classrooms, whether it be a chemistry lab, biology classroom, or an English classroom. Places in a classroom you might find steel, include:

  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • The boarder around chalkboards, whiteboards, and bulletin boards
  • Window frames
  • Shelves
  • Lab equipment

Lockers

Lockers are completely constructed of steel (besides the combination dial). However you decorate (or decorated back in the day) your locker, it is all enhancing the chipped or faded paint covering the steel.

Extracurricular Activities

Steel can also be found in some extracurricular activities. Whether it is in sporting equipment like a tennis racket, a basketball hoop, a soccer goal, or even the bleachers, or you participate in service organizations, academic teams or clubs, steel can be found just about anywhere you look.

So now that you have a backpack filled with school supplies and are about to set off to find those new classrooms, you’ll know that steel is a big part of everyday life, even in school.

To learn more about the types of steel Metalwest offers, contact your local sales representative.

Aluminum Trailers

It’s officially summer and that means camping, fairs, rodeos, and farmer’s markets. But, what do all of these activities have in common? Trailers. And not just trailers, but aluminum trailers.

There are a few different types of aluminum trailers: travel trailers, toy haulers, horse/livestock trailers, cargo trailers, and food/concession truck trailers.

aluminum travel trailerTravel Trailers

Hitting the open road or escaping to the mountains any time soon? Many RVs, campers, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, and pop-up trailers have some sort of aluminum used in the body. Whether it is a frame made from extrusions and beams or the exterior shell made of sheet, aluminum is a light-weight material that makes it easier to haul behind a vehicle.

Toy Haulers

Heading up to a race track or hauling your four wheeler up to the mountains this weekend? A toy hauler makes it easy. Many toy haulers feature an all-aluminum frame as well as an aluminum sheet constructed roof and sides.

Aluminum Horse TrailersHorse/Livestock Trailers

Do you plan on attending any rodeos this summer? Chances are pretty high that the animals were hauled in an all-aluminum constructed horse/livestock trailer. An all-aluminum construction gives the trailer durability and keeps them lightweight. Both are positive attributes when dealing with larger animals.

Cargo Trailers

Fairs, carnivals, and city celebrations tend to have their fair share of pop-up stages, rides, and games. While you are busy checking out all these attractions, take a look around. You are bound to also find an abundance of cargo and utility trailers. Cargo trailers are largely constructed of aluminum because it is lightweight and durable. Cargo trailers can also be used for many different jobs.

aluminum food truck

Photo Credit: John Bule, “Bite into Maine food truck” 2014

Food/Concession Truck Trailers

Many events you will attend this summer are bound to have a food truck or concession truck. It is also possible the truck is constructed of aluminum. Because many food truck/concession stand owners want to be able to be on the go and travel wherever they please, they look for low-cost and durability. This makes aluminum the perfect material to use for these types of trucks.

For more information on how Metalwest serves the truck trailer industry, contact your local sales representative to find the best material for your project.

Stainless Steel Grills

The summer season is here and that means it is time to break out the grill. There are many different types of grills: charcoal, gas, electric, fire-pit style, etc., as well as many different manufacturers, price tags, sizes, etc. Grills are also made out of a variety of different metals. But one of the most common metals used is stainless steel.

Stainless Steel Grills

Stainless steel is a popular choice for grills for a few reasons.

  1. Well, it looks good. Stainless steel has a stigma attached to it that it is a high-end product and that stigma is mostly right. Your refrigerator looks fancier, your toaster looks fancier, and your grill looks fancier. If you keep it clean it sparkles and shines. A stainless steel grill definitely catches peoples’ attention.
  2. It’s easy to clean. Stainless steel isn’t dust, dirt, grease, or water-spot resistant, but it is easy to clean off the spots and make your grill shine again. Here are three ways to clean stainless steel appliances.
  3. It’s corrosion resistant. While there are different grades of stainless used for stainless steel grills and each grade has different levels of corrosion resistance, stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance. This is because chromium is added to the steel and reacts with oxygen to form chromium oxide. This gives it its corrosion resistant properties. Learn more about how stainless steel is made.
  4. Because of its corrosion resistance, it is also one of the most sanitary steels. Stainless is commonly used for food service equipment, medical equipment, processing equipment, etc., because of its sanitary benefits.

300 series stainless vs. 400 series stainless

Just because a grill (or other appliance) is stainless, does not mean it is a higher-quality product. A high-quality stainless steel grill is typically made from 300 series stainless grades, specifically 304 stainless. Because it has a higher nickel content and less steel in the alloy, 304 is higher quality and generally higher cost.

You will find 300 series stainless steel used for high-end grills. If you are unsure if the grill you are picking out is 300 series stainless, try the magnetic test. If the magnet sticks to the product, it is not a 304-grade stainless steel grill.

However, don’t be worried about purchasing a 400 series stainless steel grill. It is what fits within most people’s budgets and many grill manufacturers have changed to the 400 series to lower costs. Just make sure you do your research.

If you are choosing a 430-grade stainless grill, make sure you look for heavier gauge construction throughout. That will ensure it is holds up longer. Some manufactures also mix stainless grades in their construction. The lid may be a 304-grade, but the base might be 430.

If all else fails, wherever you are purchasing your grill from should have an expert to talk to.

For more information on the best stainless steel for your application contact your local sales representative.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? It Depends.

Have you ever wondered why you can stick a magnet on one stainless steel fridge, but not another? They are both stainless steel, so why doesn’t it stick to both? Well, the answer is in the makeup of the steel. So, let’s see if stainless steel is magnetic.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? The Type of Stainless Plays a Role

Ferritic

There are different families of stainless steel and all have different physical properties. A less expensive stainless steel would be considered a ferritic steel. Ferritic stainless steels typically have better engineering properties than their counterpart, austenitic, but have reduced corrosion resistance due to lower nickel and chromium content. This makes ferritic stainless steel magnetic.

Ferritic steels provide an advantage in many applications in which thinner materials or reduced weight are required. They are also non-hardenable by heat treating.

Typical applications for ferritic stainless steels include automotive and truck exhaust systems, catalytic converters, agricultural spreaders, heat exchangers, kitchen equipment, and roofing just to name a few.

Ferritic metals are classified in the 400 series. At Metalwest we commonly stock 409 stainless and 430 stainless steel products.

Austenitic

Austenitic stainless steels are the more common types of stainless. These grades have higher chromium and nickel content. The higher nickel content makes austenitic grades non-magnetic.

Austenitic steels are similarly non-hardenable by heat treating, but also have excellent formability and higher corrosion resistance.

These type of steels are commonly used for kitchen equipment, appliances, automotive trim, architectural applications, chemical equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, and much more.

Austenitic stainless steels are classified in the 200 and 300 series. At Metalwest we commonly stock 201 stainless, 301 stainless, 304/304L stainless, and 316/316L stainless steel products.

So, the next time you are shopping for a refrigerator be sure to bring a magnet. Higher quality (and typically more expensive) stainless steel appliances will not hold your alphabet magnet set. But unless you plan on placing your fridge out in the elements, you will most likely get along just fine with a ferritic stainless steel appliance. It’s still stainless after all.

For more information about our stainless steel products, contact your local sales representative.

Metal Garden Tools

March is a time of year when the snow starts to melt, tulips begin to blossom, and your yard is a dirty mess. Spring cleanup can be the worst part of yard work. You have to deal with leaves everywhere, matted down grass, and, in some cases, pet messes every few feet.

With all these messes around your yard it is likely you will be reaching for a rake, shovel, hand garden tools, and possibly even a lawn mower. Did you know many of these tools commonly use steel?

Let’s take a look at some metal garden tools, shall we?

Metal Garden Tools

Rakes

Metal lawn rakes, also known as leaf rakes, are generally made from metal or plastic. There are pros and cons to both, but let’s take a look at metal rakes.

Metal is more resilient, but can cost more money than a plastic rake. They feature either a wooden or metal handle as well as a flexible metal rake head. The metal tines on the rake head are fashioned into a fan shape and angle slightly downward to easily grab leaves.

There are a few different types of steel used for metal rakes. You can find rakes made from light gauge aluminum, as well as light gauge galvanized and other types of carbon steel.

Another metal garden tool includes bow rakes. Bow rakes are used for heavier materials than leaves and are great for leveling dirt, sand, mulch, or gravel. The tines are shorter and thicker than the leaf rake, but are also made of metal. A heavy-gauge carbon is typically used for the rake head, but they can have wood, metal, or plastic handles.

Other rakes that use metal include: shrub rakes, thatch rakes, and hand rakes.

Shovels

Embed from Getty Images

As we mentioned in a previous post, Winter Uses for Steel, shovels are commonly made from steel. Steel provides a durable, long lasting quality to garden tools, which is why it is the ideal material for a garden shovel.

Chances are you have a digging shovel or two in your garage or shed. These kinds of shovels are used for digging, planting, and allow for transplanting small bushes and plants. They are also great for cutting sod and small roots. Digging shovels are most commonly made from a heavy-gauge carbon steel, however you can find them in aluminum as well (typically used for smaller jobs).

Garden trowels and soil scoops are also commonly made from steel. If you plan on potting small plants, spot reseeding, or doing any other minor gardening task, trowels and scoops are the tools to use. Because these are used for lighter tasks, they are also frequently constructed using plastic. However, steel trowels and scoops are more durable and last longer.

Lawn Mowers

After you have raked your lawn and the grass has turned green it is time to trim it. Lawn mowers come in many different sizes depending on the job; you may have a small reel mower, a rotary mower, or even a ride-on mower.

Whichever type of mower you have, it contains metal parts. Major components that are made from metal are the mower pan, handlebar, engine, and blades. Depending on the type of lawn mower, the cover might also be made from metal, but they are also commonly constructed of plastic.

How to Clean Aluminum Siding

With spring just around the corner and the weather looking up for parts of the country, it is time to think about cleaning up the outside of your house, office building, trailer, or wherever it is that is constructed of aluminum siding.

I recently took to cleaning the outside of my house which has painted-white aluminum siding and have found a few methods that worked wonders on clearing the hard water, grime, rust stains, etc.

Prepping the home to clean aluminum siding:

First you need to prep the area around where you plan to clean. Make sure windows are all closed, any rugs, furniture, décor, etc., are moved out of the way, and any delicate plants are covered or, if in a pot, moved to a safer location for the time being.

You’ll also want to make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. It is a very dirty job, trust me on this one.

Method 1: Power Washer

While I was doing research on the best methods to clean aluminum siding, use of a power washer seemed to be a common method.

When using a power washer, which you can typically rent or purchase from a local hardware store, be sure to use it on a lower setting to ensure you don’t dent or damage the siding.

The power washer, I found, is a great first step, but not necessarily the best way to remove rust stains. It got rid of the dirt and some of the hard water stains, but I still had to do more manual labor to remove the orange rust that was the real eye sore on my white siding.

Method 2: Detergent and Water Solution

This method removed a majority of the orange rust and all of the hard water stains.

What you will need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Warm water
  • Porous sponge or soft bristled brush (you can also use a push broom for hard to reach areas)
  • Old rags
  • Bucket (I just used a small 2 gallon bucket as it is all I have)
  • Hose

Cleaning process:

  1. Fill bucket with warm water and ¼ cup of laundry detergent.
  2. Start at the top and work your way down the siding. I did it in about five-foot sections. You might find that you just need the soft side of a sponge for the top half of the siding, but then need the porous side or bristle brush the more you work your way down.
  3. Work in a circular motion to ensure you get into the groves. This also varies the motion on the siding which will help to ensure you don’t start removing the paint. Going side to side along the grain may cause the paint to wear.
  4. After you have finished the section you have two options. 1) You can either move on to the next section if you were able to remove all the grime, or 2) you can go over what you just scrubbed with a rag and clean water to wipe the excess off.
  5. Once you have finished a whole side you can rinse the detergent and water solution off with a hose or power washer (on a low setting).

After doing this method, my house was almost sparkly white (I also have found that using some sort of tile cleaner with warm water works as well). However, I had a few stubborn areas I just couldn’t scrub off. So… on to method three.

Method 3: Paint

If both the above methods still don’t clean the siding, just repaint the siding. If you plan to do any painting be sure to get paint meant for outdoor and metal material use. Your local hardware store paint specialist should be able to point you in the right direction and give you instructions on how to prep, paint, and set it.