Installing awnings and screen systems in areas where salt laden air is present requires extra care on the part of the owner. Salt air is extremely corrosive on all objects including "Non-Ferrous" metals like stainless steel and aluminum.
A lot of material is published regarding the effects of salt laden air and salt water on many construction and recreational materials. Most people have seen the effects and devastating results of salt induced corrosion but rarely associate that with products they purchase. This often leads to assumptions of warranty coverage when the reality is few products can withstand salt exposure without extra precautions and care and are not covered by warranty. For those of you who fabricate awnings and marine products, selecting the appropriate materials both from a corrosion resistance point of view and compatibility point of view will make all the difference between long term happy and disappointed customers. Did you know, for instance, that although both aluminum and stainless steel are generally considered inherently “rust proof” -- that is really a misnomer. Stainless steel comes in different grades with varying amount of iron and thus WILL rust to some degree. Aluminum is produced in a variety of alloys in both extrusions and castings which react differently to salt environments and also rust in the form of that white oxidation and pitting. Surprising to many is the fact Aluminum and Stainless Steel react against one another verses being compatible when it comes to the galvanic action of dissimilar metals.
So what to do?
- Make sure you understand these basic issues and take precautions by understanding the construction of products you purchase and resell as well as the raw materials you purchase for your own fabrication.
- Seek out items designed or enhanced for salt water applications.
- Be proactive and warn your customers in those environments that you have chosen the best products for their environment however they too must take additional steps regarding care and maintenance to protect and extend the life of their investment. Click below for the Tech Bulletin.
- If you are informed and educate your customers, you will be rewarded with happy customers who appreciate your knowledge and the value you add to the product you sell.