Steel Bleacher Coatings and Finishes
As our standard of quality, Southern Bleacher's support structures are always galvanized. For any steel component, you have the option to choose galvanized steel or add color with our duplex coating process.
Galvanized steel is steel that's been coated with zinc for extra protection and longevity. While there are many ways to galvanize steel, Southern Bleacher uses the "hot dip" method, which ensures the thickest layers of zinc.
In this process, the zinc is heated past its melting point to well over 800 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point steel is quickly dipped into the hot liquid and pulled back out. The metals react to create an alloy bond that adheres the zinc to the steel, giving the steel four layers of zinc coatings as it cools and hardens.
Preventing Rust & Corrosion
The greatest advantage of galvanized steel over other steel coatings is its incredible resistance to rust and corrosion, even in harsh environments.
Because of the way that zinc chemically reacts with air and water, it continually forms a protective coating over its surface. Even if deeply scratched, the zinc will oxidize briefly while the steel remains untouched.
Once the exposed zinc reacts with the air, it reforms its protective barrier within seconds, stopping all oxidation. Because of these remarkable properties, galvanized steel is effectively a zero-maintenance product.
How long does hot-dipped steel last?
We've been using hot-dipped galvanized steel for stadium structures since 1978 and have yet to see noticeable wear and tear, but an even more remarkable example of galvanized steel corrosion resistance comes from one of America's great landmarks.
When the Brooklyn Bridge opened, it was by far the longest bridge in the world - a 1,600-foot span across New York's East River - with more than 14,500 miles of hot-dip galvanized steel used for its four main cables.
When it underwent major rehab in 2000, that same galvanized steel was still in excellent condition. The time in-between? 117 years. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883!
Steel Duplex Coating
Southern Bleachers' duplex coating for steel understructure offers the most protection for your investment. It begins with our industrial-grade hot-dipped galvanized steel and layers on factory-applied, architectural-grade exterior paint available in a wide range of colors.
The beauty of duplex coating is the synergistic effect of zinc plus paint. The two coatings not only protect the underlying steel, but also each other. The outer layer of paint protects the zinc from exposure. The underlying zinc protects paint in the same way it protects steel - by "sacrificing" itself to oxidation when scratched, but only until it restores its protective barrier seconds later.
When paint on galvanized steel is scratched, the damage stops there. When paint on non-galvanized steel is scratched, it leads to corrosion, cracking and peeling if not immediately painted over. Because painted steel that hasn't been galvanized requires constant vigilance and maintenance, Southern Bleacher always recommends paint only on galvanized steel.
It's true that you can paint non-galvanized steel for less than the cost of duplex coating, and if your budget absolutely requires finding those up-front savings, it's an option. But it's critical that you understand the long-term investment commitment in that scenario.
Stadiums built with painted steel that hasn't been galvanized - no matter how durable the paint - typically require a full repainting within two years and then every year thereafter. This annual maintenance becomes a standing, significant drain on budget. So while duplex coating costs more up-front, the long-term savings are significant considering the life of your structural steel.
While both galvanizing and painting have protective effects, together they offer protection even greater than the sum of their individual protective qualities - extending the "life" of your protective coatings by 150% to 250%.
For example, if the zinc coating of your galvanized steel alone would have a 100-year lifespan, and a paint coating alone would have a 10-year lifespan, the combined coating of paint on zinc would have not a 110-year lifespan, but a 165 to 275-year lifespan!
Southern Bleacher also offers color for chain link steel fencing with vinyl coating - a great way to enhance both look and durability.