SPDs Guide to Steel Finishes

Posted: 09 Jun 21

At SPD we utilise many years of steel stockholding and processing experience to provide you with the right steel for your project. All of our steel come with what we call (No Finish) which is the steels natural state straight from the steel mill, but we can offer shot blasting and painting on most of our range where required. As a guide we have written the below to summarise the various steel finished possible, and to advise which steel is best suited to which purpose.

The majority of the items we supply are classed as Mild Steel products and if left untreated mild steel will rust (in days) if it gets wet, either directly or simply through moisture in the air. Mild Steel should not be left outside for any length of time if supplied in its natural state.

If you are looking to use steel for a Landscaping Project, then you may want to make the rustic and aesthetic feature of your design and on request we can quote you for Corten Steel which carries a rustic appearance. But, as a general rule if your steel is going to be subject to the elements in a construction, landscaping or agriculture application you will either want to purchase the steel already painted (which we can quote for) or you will want to paint once you have the material on site with a steel protecting paint.

An alternative to Mild Steel, is to either have the item made from stainless steel which is the material used for our range of Fastec Glass and Stainless Balustrade products. This range comes in an Indoor and Outdoor grade so please ensure you pick the correct grade for application on ordering. Or you can finish mild steel products with an anti-corrosion coating of some kind. The most popular coatings are waxing, galvanising, powder coating and clear coating. 

We can’t provide these additional finishes but if you purchase your steel from us you will be able to find a local company who can galvanise and powder coat your steel for you.

Hot-dip galvanizing deposits a thick, robust layer of zinc iron alloys on the surface of a steel item. In the case of automobile bodies, where additional decorative coatings of paint will be applied, a thinner form of galvanizing is applied by electro-galvanizing. In construction settings many items of steel manufacture are galvanized for protection. Typically, these include street furniture, building frameworks, balconies, verandas, staircases, ladders, walkways, and more. Hot dip galvanized steel is also used for making steel frames as a basic construction material for steel frame buildings.

Powder Coating is a process whereby a small electrical charge is passed through the steel and coloured powder with an opposing charge is sprayed onto it, the powder adhering to the steel with incredible force to create an extremely strong bond. The whole item is then baked at very high temperature which liquefies the powder and creates a seamless, smooth finish (which looks like a really good paint job). Powder Coatings can be applied in just about any colour – including metallics – and the finish can be satin or gloss. Powder coating is a very attractive finish for indoor and outdoor furniture applications and is tough and hardwearing. Coloured powder coated items generally provide a more contemporary and modern look.  

Clear coating is simply powder coating using a clear finish rather than a coloured one.  This is desirable to some people who wish to show off the raw steel finish of the piece to best effect. It’s just as durable as coloured powder coating, and again can be supplied satin or gloss. 

If you are looking to build a handrail that is durable in an industrial or public setting you may want to consider GRP or Glass Reinforced Plastic options. This requires no protection to the elements, is always warm to touch and has a much longer lifespan than untreated steel products. Please ask our chat team about GRP or email the team for any requests on GRP Handrailing or Flooring products.

Require more information? 

We hope this guide has been helpful but if you require support at any time you can speak to our live chat team Monday/Friday 8.30am/5pm (excluding bank holidays), call our team on 020 4511 5540, complete our form below or email sales@steelproductsdirect.com