Aluminum Stairs More and more commercial and industrial property owners are making the switch from galvanized steel to aluminum exterior stairs. Here are 5 of the greatest benefits to installing aluminum stairs in Montreal.
Long product life of Aluminum Stairs
Unlike steel and galvanized steel, aluminum will never rust, warp, or rot, so the structural integrity and original appearance remains intact longer than other common materials.
Unlike any other material, aluminum is corrosion resistant; when it reacts with oxygen in the air, a thin layer of oxide forms and naturally protects the material from elemental corrosion. The layer of oxide may make the aluminum appear dull, but it does not impact the structural integrity. The oxide layer is self-repairing when damaged and provides better adhesion for paint primers and glues than other bare metals.
Until the use of aluminum, galvanized steel was a popular choice because it was somewhat corrosion-resistant. A protective zinc coating applied to the material in the galvanization process prevents rusting initially; however, the zinc coating eventually develops a natural carbonate on its surface from the process of atmospheric sulfur dioxide combining with rainwater, resulting in sulfuric acid – the main component of acid rain.
Best Loading Dock Stairs
In highly-industrialized areas with a high volume of freight trucks, galvanized steel experiences corrosion while aluminum will maintain structural integrity.
Sulfur dioxide is emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels which means there is a higher concentration in highly-industrialized areas (which is typically where these stairs are used) due to the high volume of transportation vehicles. The carbonate on the surface of the galvanized steel becomes brittle and eventually splits, exposing fresh zinc that corrodes. Since the zinc coating is thin, the base metal is also often exposed and corrodes as well.
No required maintenance for Aluminum Stairs
Aluminum is more corrosion-resistant than any other material and does not require regular maintenance.
The only maintenance for aluminum stairs is to make sure that the pathway is free of snow, leaves, and other natural elements. For snow removal, we recommend a magnesium chloride ice melt because most typical ice melts are too harsh for aluminum and can damage the surface.
This is in contrast to the routine maintenance require for galvanized steel stairs which will begin to rust if the protective zinc coating is scratched. Therefore, it is recommended to routinely apply a protective coating so that the barrier between the water and the metal is maintained. Property owners have expressed dissatisfaction with this required maintenance of galvanized steel. When stairs are located in a region where it snows, removal of ice and snow can be problematic because all ice melts eat away at the zinc coating. Property owners are reporting that steel is extremely hard to maintain, especially in climates where it rains and snows often, and aluminum is much less work.
Aluminum meets many capacity requirements and it’s easier than steel to install because it is lightweight.
Aluminum is approximately 1/3 the density of steel and weighs much less.
While galvanized steel is stronger than aluminum, aluminum exceeds the requirements for pedestrian access applications and is preferred because of its many other benefits.
Potentially cut costs
Property owners can save money upfront by switching from galvanized steel loading dock stairs to aluminum.
Switching to aluminum can save between 20-30% on yearly maintenance costs.
There are instances when the upfront price of aluminum loading dock stairs is not always less expensive than galvanized steel because the raw material is typically more expensive; however, the cost of aluminum stairs over the course of their life will be less because galvanized steel incurs routine maintenance costs whereas aluminum does not.
For more information or to book a consultation, contact us today!