Should H Beams be Galvanised?

In the realm of construction, the choice of materials can significantly impact the longevity and resilience of structures. One such material that has been a subject of debate is the steel beam, specifically the H-beam variant. The question often arises: should steel beams be galvanised? This article delves into the advantages of galvanised steel H-beams, drawing from reputable sources and industry insights.

1.Understanding Steel H-Beams

Steel H-beams, also known as "metal H-beams," are structural elements commonly used in construction for their high strength-to-weight ratio. They are characterized by their 'H' shaped cross-section, which provides exceptional load-bearing capabilities. However, steel's susceptibility to corrosion poses a challenge, prompting the question of galvanisation.

2.The Process of Galvanisation of H Beam

The most common galvanizing method is hot-dip galvanizing. First, the plated parts are pickled to remove the oxide layer on the surface of the plated parts, providing conditions for the firm adhesion of the coating, and the plating agent is cleaned to further remove impurities on the surface of the plated parts. Then, they are placed in the zinc liquid in the hot-dip galvanizing tank and soaked to make the zinc liquid adhere to the plated parts evenly and densely to form a coating. Hot-dip galvanizing is developed from the older hot-dip method. Since France applied hot-dip galvanizing to industry in 1836, it has a history of 140 years. The hot-dip galvanizing industry has been developed on a large scale in the past 30 years with the rapid development of cold-rolled strip steel. With the discovery of industry, hot-dip galvanized products have been used in many fields and are widely used in power towers, communication towers, railways, highway protection, street lamp poles, marine components, building steel structure components, substation ancillary facilities, light industry, etc.

3.Benefits of Galvanised Steel H-Beams

The advantages of hot-dip galvanizing of Steel H-Beams are long-term anti-corrosion and wide adaptability to the environment. It is a popular anti-corrosion treatment method. Its advantages are as follows:

(1) Complete and uniform coating

The entire surface of the h beams is protected. Whether in the recessed pipes, or any corners that are difficult to access with other coatings, the molten zinc can easily and evenly cover them.

(2) Hard coating

The hardness of the galvanized layer is greater than that of steel.

(3) Unique corner protection

In the corner area, the zinc layer is often thicker than other places, and has good toughness and wear resistance. Other coatings are often the thinnest, most difficult to apply and most vulnerable to damage at these corners, so they often need to be maintained.

(4) Double protection

Galvanizing provides double protection for steel beams: on the one hand, it forms a barrier to prevent corrosion; on the other hand, it uses sacrificial anodes. Even if the zinc layer is partially detached due to mechanical damage or other reasons, exposing the iron substrate, the surrounding zinc layer can still immediately play a role and protect the steel from corrosion. In contrast, once other types of coatings are damaged, rust will quickly form and spread under the coating, causing the coating to peel off, which is completely different from the protective effect of galvanizing.

(5) Slow corrosion rate

The zinc layer is consumed slowly in the atmosphere, and its corrosion rate is much lower than that of steel, about 1/17 to 1/18 of the corrosion rate of steel, making the service life of the zinc layer far longer than other coatings. The thickness of the electroplated zinc layer is generally 5 to 15 microns, while the hot-dip galvanized layer is thicker, usually exceeding 35 microns, and sometimes even reaching 200 microns. Hot-dip galvanizing is superior in protection performance due to its excellent covering ability and dense coating without impurities. The protective film on the surface of the zinc layer is composed of zinc oxide, zinc hydroxide and basic zinc carbonate, which can effectively slow down the corrosion of zinc. Even if the protective film is damaged, a new film layer will form quickly. When the zinc layer is severely damaged and the iron matrix is ​​exposed, zinc provides protection through electrochemical action to form a micro-battery, in which zinc is sacrificed as the anode and iron is protected as the cathode. Due to the difference in standard potential between zinc and iron, hot-dip galvanizing performs better than electroplating in terms of atmospheric corrosion resistance.

(6) Long anti-corrosion time

The anti-corrosion life of hot-dip galvanizing varies with environmental differences: 13 years in heavy industrial areas, 50 years in marine environments, more than 104 years in suburban environments, and 30 years in urban environments. The anti-corrosion life of the coating is mainly affected by its thickness, which is proportional to the thickness of the steel. Therefore, in the same steel structure, the thicker steel part will receive a thicker coating to ensure a longer anti-corrosion life.

3.Applications of Galvanised Steel H-Beams

Galvanised steel H-beams are widely used in various applications, including:

(1)Residential Construction

For load-bearing walls, roofs, and balconies.

(2)Commercial Construction

In large-scale projects such as shopping centers and office buildings.

(3)Industrial Applications

As support structures in factories and warehouses.

(4)Infrastructure Projects

In bridges, retaining walls, and other public works.


The decision to galvanise steel H-beams should be based on the specific requirements of the project, considering factors such as the environment, expected lifespan, and aesthetic preferences.

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