Just because your fence is made of metal doesn’t necessarily mean you have to fear rust. Not all fences are created equal when it comes to rust.
If you have any piece of indoor or outdoor furniture or fixture that is made out of metal, you may have already seen what rust can do to it. Some people even have these sorts of problems on their cars where dents or scratches have gone through the protective coating. You know the signs: reddish-orange, flaking pieces of rusted metal, slowly creeping over the entire piece. Rust does not just damage the metal itself; it can actually damage the structure of the metal piece if the rust goes to the wrong areas.
Interestingly, not all metal fixtures will succumb to this type of rust. If you have been considering getting your feet wet in the world of aluminum fences or driveway gates, you don’t need to fear this traditional rust. To put it simply, rust rusts differently on a powder-coated aluminum fence.
That might sound a bit puzzling, so let’s take a closer look at the process. Traditionally, rust comes about due to moisture setting off a reaction in certain metals, namely iron and steel. Any water or moisture begins this reaction, causing metal to slowly deteriorate and eventually begin flaking off. This type of rust can be halted by removing all parts of the metal that have begun the rust-forming reaction.
The science of aluminum fence corrosion
Aluminum fences are not made with iron or steel, so they do not rust in the traditional sense of the word. Moisture or wetness does cause a reaction in aluminum, but this reaction is not as detrimental to the metal as rust is to iron or steel.
The reaction that occurs with aluminum is called oxidation, and it actually has the opposite effect of traditional rust. Aluminum oxidation creates a thin layer of a string material covering the water-logged area. Instead of a dark orange, flaky surface, the aluminum in this area turns into a stronger material!
Moreover, the area that was wet will be the only area that experiences this reaction. Once the reaction had occurred, there will be no moving reaction into other parts of the aluminum piece. This is what makes aluminum the most ideal type of material for outdoor fences.
Avoiding rust at all costs
Any fence should come with special coatings to help stop any type of unsightly rust or corrosion. Aluminum fences in particular come with a special powder coating that successfully protects the aluminum from even beginning the oxidation process.
When it comes to an aluminum fence, minimal upkeep is needed. It is recommended that you check over the fence once a year or once a season, depending on how extreme the weather is in your area. This will ensure the coating is still in place and there are no areas where the coating could be scratched. A scratched surface means moisture can make its way through to the metal.
Now you know that it isn’t the end of the world—or your aluminum fence—if the coating is scratched because the oxidation process only makes it stronger. However, it can still be unsightly, hence the need to check that the coating and the fence are in pristine condition season after season.