How Long Does Galvanized Steel Last?

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How Long Does Galvanized Steel Last?

How Long Does Galvanized Steel Last?

Knowing the expected lifespan of any major product or material is naturally important to buyers, and those who are utilizing galvanized steel for their applications are no exception. Because steel galvanization is meant to protect against corrosion, knowing how long this protection can be reasonably expected to last is important – so how long does galvanized steel last, exactly?

At Wasatch Steel, we’re here to offer a wide range of steel supply products, allowing clients to buy steel formats that include steel bar, steel sheet and more. Here are some basics on the broad lifespan range of galvanized steel, plus how various different environments tend to influence this range.

Galvanized Steel and Time to First Maintenance (TFM)

An important overarching metric to be aware of when discussing galvanized steel lifespans is that of TFM, or Time to First Maintenance. This term refers to the duration between when a piece of galvanized steel is installed and when it begins showing signs of its first instance of rust – usually described as when 5% of a surface shows the appearance of rust.

TFM will vary by several factors:

  • Thickness of zinc coating: More zinc coating will generally mean longer time to first maintenance.
  • Exposure level: Steel that is exposed to harsher environments, such as high levels of moisture or chemicals, will have a shorter TFM.
  • Atmospheric conditions: Different regions will have different levels of pollutants and other atmospheric factors that can influence the lifespan of galvanized steel.

TFM ranges for galvanized steel are known to be quite high, though they will vary based on the environment the steel is used in. Even in the harshest such environments, which we’ll get into in a moment, most average TFM ranges are over 70 years; for many forgiving environments, they can approach 100 years with basic care and upkeep. This is a fantastic lifespan for any material, and is part of why galvanized steel remains popular in a variety of applications.

Our next several sections will examine several different environments galvanized steel is often used in, plus how average TFMs tend to change based on this – we’ll go from harshest to most forgiving.

Industrial Environments

In most cases, the harshest environment galvanized steel will be used in is an industrial one. This could mean high levels of moisture and chemicals, constant exposure to harsh elements like air pollution or simply the natural elements common in manufacturing environments.

In general, expect TFM here to be between 72 and 75 years for most applications. In some cases, where extreme exposure to harsh chemicals or pollutants is present, this may dip slightly lower – but it’s still a fantastic lifespan range.

Tropical Marine Environments

Whether we’re talking about a place like Miami or various other tropical regions, the combination of high moisture and salt air makes for a rough environment for many materials – including galvanized steel. However, this is still an area where galvanized steel performs quite well; TFM ranges here tend to be around 75 to 78 years.

Now, these can be impacted by other factors, such as the presence of industrial contaminants or severe exposure to sea spray, but these are still great estimates for this type of environment.

Temperate Marine Environment

Slightly more forgiving than tropical marine environments, temperate marine areas still see high levels of moisture and salt air – think places like the Pacific Northwest or parts of New England. Despite these elements, galvanized steel will generally last between 78 and 90 years, with an average of around 86 years.

Again, these can be influenced by other factors, but this is still a very impressive lifespan range.

Rural and Suburban Environments

Finally, for those using galvanized steel in more rural or suburban environments with lower levels of pollutants, moisture and other harsh elements, TFM ranges can get extremely high. In suburban environments, their average range tends to fall between 95 and 97; for outright rural environments, many galvanized steel products reach 100 years before even the first signs of corrosion are present.

The pollution levels of an urban environment can lower this slightly, but it’s still a fantastic lifespan range – and one that means you’re unlikely to have to replace galvanized steel in your lifetime in most cases.

As you can see, the expected lifespan of galvanized steel is quite high across a variety of different environments. With proper care and maintenance, this material can easily last for decades, making it a popular choice for many applications.

At Wasatch Steel, we’re proud to offer high-quality steel for sale that will stand the test of time in whatever environment they’re used in. Whether you need steel supplies for industrial projects or residential construction, our team has the knowledge and expertise to help you find the perfect solution. Contact us today to learn more about our steel dealer services across SLC and nearby areas of Utah!