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What We Need to Know

National Institutee of Steel Detailin



Fred Tinker
National Institute of Steel Detailing, Inc.
With Assistance From:
Christine McCulloch - Education Committee
National Institute of Steel Detailing, Inc.
Andrew Lesko - Calwest Galvanizing
Melissa Lindsley - American Galvanizers Association
Paul Parks - Infosight Corporation
Photos contributed by the American Galvanizers Association
First Printing: March 1, 2009
2009 National Institute of Steel Detailing and the American Galvanizers Association. The material provided herein has been developed to provide accurate
and authoritative information about after-fabrication hot-dip galvanized steel. This material provides information only and is not intended as a substitute for
competent professional examination and verication as to suitability and applicability. The information provided herein is not intended as a representation
or warranty on the part of the NISD or AGA. Anyone making use of this information assumes all liability arising from such use.

Table of Contents

Drilling and Cutting.................................................12

Galvanizing History..............................................5

Venting and Drainage..............................................12

Hot-Dip Galvanizing Process.................................6


Surface Preparation..................................6

Cap and Base Plates.......................13

Galvanized Coating Characteristics
Metallurgical bond...................................7
Coating Uniformity....................................7
Cathodic protection..................................8
Galvanized Coating Performance
Time to First Maintenance.........................8
Exposure to High Temperature....................8
Additional Galvanizing Information
Galvanizing vs. Painting: By the Numbers.....9
Painting Hot-Dip Galvanized Steel.............9
Sheet Steel/Continuous Galvanizing...........9
Design Considerations........................................10

Cropping for Drainage.....................14

Repair of Vent Holes........................14
Barcode Tags..............................................15
Galvanized Bolts, Nuts, and Holes.................15
Temporary Bracing.......................................15
Lifting Aids..................................................16
Galvanizing Oversized Pieces......................16
Touchup and Repair.....................................16
ASTM Standards.....................................................18
Canadian Standards Association..............................18
Frequently Asked Questions.....................................19
Appendix of Detailed Sketches................................21
Special Thanks........................................................27

Welding Procedure................................11
Flux & Slag Removal....................11
Stitch and Seal Welding .............12

Hot-dip galvanized steel has been effectively used for
more than 150 years. The value of hot-dip galvanizing
stems from the relative corrosion resistance of
zinc, which, under most service conditions, is
considerably better than iron and steel. In addition
to forming a physical barrier against corrosion, zinc,
applied as a hot-dip galvanized coating, cathodically
protects exposed steel. Furthermore, galvanizing
for protection of iron and steel is favored because
of its low cost, the ease of application, and the
extended maintenance-free service it provides.

This book is to help the architect, design engineer,

fabricator, and detailer better understand the process
of preparing steel for the highest quality corrosion
resistant coating (galvanizing).
This book will assist you in your hot-dip galvanizing
foundation by providing a look at the galvanizing
history, galvanizing process, galvanized coating
characteristics, performance, and design considerations.
Following the information provided, the designer,
fabricator, and detailer can ensure the highest quality
galvanized coating.

Galvanizing History
79 AD

Historical records show zinc usage in early construction.


Luigi Galvani, galvanizings namesake, discovers the electrochemical process that takes place
between metals during an experiment with frog legs.


Alessandro Volta discovers the electro-potential between two metals, creating a

corrosion cell.


Michael Faraday discovers zincs sacricial action, during an experiment

involving zinc, salt water and nails.


French engineer Stanislaus Tranquille Modeste Sorel took out a patent for the
early galvanizing process.


British galvanizing industry is consuming 10,000 tons of zinc annually for the
production of galvanized steel.


First galvanizing plant opened in the United States. Steel was hand-dipped in the
zinc bath.


600,000+ tons of zinc is consumed in North America to produce hot-dip galvanized steel.

P.J. Malouin, a French chemist, presents to the Royal Academy of Sciences several
experiments involving the coating of iron by molten zinc.

Hot-Dip Galvanizing Process

Surface Preparation








Cooling and

Figure 1: The Hot-Dip Galvanizing Process

The hot-dip galvanizing process (Figure 1) consists
of the following steps:
Surface preparation a series of three cleaning
processes to prepare the steel for immersion in
the zinc bath, as zinc will not react with, nor
adhere to unclean steel.
Galvanizing total immersion of the steel in the
molten zinc bath.
Inspection visual inspection and coating
thickness measurement to ensure conformance to
appropriate specications.

Steel is immersed in liquid ux (a zinc ammonium
chloride solution) for two purposes. First, the ux will
remove any remaining iron oxides. Additionally, the
ux will create a protective lm to prevent oxidation
prior to dipping into the molten zinc bath (Yellow
Tank, Figure 1).

Small parts, such as fasteners, brackets, and clips

less than 30 (76cm) in length, are galvanized with
the same process. However, these parts are spun or
centrifuged after galvanizing to remove excess zinc.

Surface Preparation


In the degreasing step, a hot, alkaline solution removes

dirt, oil, grease, shop oil, some paints, and soluble markings
(Green Tank, Figure 1). It will not remove some surface
contaminants, such as epoxies, vinyls, asphalts,
or welding slag. These contaminants must be
mechanically cleaned by grinding or blasting prior to
shipment to the galvanizing facility.

Dilute solution (between 8% to 15%) of either
ambient hydrochloric or heated sulfuric acid removes
surface rust and mill scale to provide a chemically
clean metallic surface (Red Tank, Figure 1).


The steel article is immersed in a bath of molten zinc
heated to between 815-850F (435-455C). During
galvanizing, the zinc metallurgically bonds to the
steel, creating a series of abrasion-resistant zinc-iron
alloy layers, topped by a layer of pure zinc.
As the steel is withdrawn from the zinc bath, excess
zinc is removed by draining, vibrating, or for small
items, centrifuging. It is important to remove all
excess to ensure the part is suitable for its intended
use. The galvanized item is either cooled by air or
water, or dipped in a passivation solution to prevent

Hot-Dip Galvanizing Process

The nal step in the galvanizing process is the
inspection of the surface condition and coating
thickness. The inspection of galvanizing is relatively
easy because zinc does not adhere to unclean steel.

So, if the steel has a continuous coating of zinc, it

should meet the required specication. To conrm
conformance, the coating thickness is measured using
a magnetic thickness gauge.

Hot-Dip Galvanized Coating Characteristics

Metallurgical Bond
During the galvanizing
process, the zinc in the kettle
and the iron in the steel
metallurgically react to form
the galvanized coating. This
diffusion reaction creates a
series of intermetallic zinciron alloy layers, which are
harder than the base steel (see
Figure 2). The metallurgical
bond is much stronger than
a mechanically bonded
coating, as galvanized steel
bond strength is around
3,600 psi compared to
several hundred for most
other coatings.

Figure 2: Photomicrograph of Galvanized Coating

Diamond Pyramid Number (DPN) = measure of hardness, the higher the number, the greater the hardness

Coating Uniformity

surface, which means coating thickness at corners and

edges is at least as thick as at surfaces. Paint tends to be
Galvanizing is a total immersion process, which ensures thinner at edges and corners, and painted hollow structures
all surfaces are coated, including the inside of hollow have no protection on the inside. These areas are where
structures. During the diffusion reaction in the galvanizing corrosion often starts.
kettle, the intermetallic layers grow perpendicular to the

Cathodic Protection
Galvanized coatings also offer cathodic protection,
which simply means the zinc will sacrice itself to
protect the underlying base steel. Often steel pieces are
roughly handled during shipment and/or erection, which
can damage organic coatings. Galvanized steel can
withstand this rough handling, and if damaged, the steel
will still be cathodically protected by the surrounding
zinc (see Figure 3). The same principle is used to protect
outboard boat engines.

Figure 3: Cathodic Protection

Galvanized Coating Performance

Time to First Maintenance* (years)





Temperate Marine


Tropical Marine










Average Thickness of Zinc (mils)

*Time to first maintenance is defined as the time to 5% rusting of the substrate steel surface.



1 mil = 25.4m = 0.56oz/ft2

Figure 4: Time to First Maintenance Chart

For more information on the performance of hot-dip
galvanized coatings, visit the American Galvanizers
Associations website at and
The Time to First Maintenance Chart (Figure 4) was download the publications Hot-Dip Galvanizing for
developed from decades of real world corrosion data Corrosion Protection: A Speciers Guide and/or
collected from galvanized steel samples exposed to Service Life Chart for Hot-Dip Galvanized Coatings.
environments all over the world. This data was sorted
into ve characteristic environmental categories: rural,
suburban, industrial, temperate marine and tropical
There are some concerns with using hot-dip galvanized
Time to rst maintenance is dened as the period of steel in an elevated temperature environment. The
time until 5% of the substrate steel surface is showing industry recommends the service temperature for
iron oxide (rust). At this point, it is unlikely the galvanized coatings be less than 390F (200C) for
underlying steel has been weakened or the integrity of long-term exposure. Possible concerns at continued
the structure is compromised, but it is time to begin a
exposure to temperatures above 390F (200C)
maintenance cycle on the structure to protect it from
include peeling, some
further corrosion.
No Peeling
changes in mechanical
properties, and obvious
As the chart illustrates, the zinc coating thickness is
reduction in corrosion
directly proportional to the time to rst maintenance.
Other factors that inuence the corrosion performance
of the coating are: relative humidity, sulfur dioxide,
Figure 5: Galvanizing
airborne salinity, precipitation, and temperature.
Performance at High
390 F
480 F

Time to First Maintenance

Exposure to High Temperature


Examples of duplex systems

Additional Galvanizing Information

Galvanizing vs. Painting:
By the numbers

Sheet Steel or Continuous


An economic analysis of galvanizing vs. painting on

both an initial and life-cycle basis should be performed
prior to the selection of either corrosion protection
method. Galvanizing has long been known to be less
expensive on a life-cycle basis, but many speciers
do not realize galvanizing is also competitive on
an initial cost basis. In order to facilitate the
process of performing an economic analysis, an
online Life-Cycle Cost Calculator was created at The interactive calculator
allows the user to input information about any job and
compare the initial and life-cycle cost of galvanizing to a
number of paint systems.

Another series of hot-dip galvanized steel products also

exists. Continuous galvanizing or sheet steel products
are still formed by dipping steel into molten zinc, but the
process is fully mechanized and done at very high speeds.
Coils of steel sheet metal are fed as ribbon through a
molten zinc bath where it reacts to leave a protective
surface coating. The
operation grew out
of traditional afterfabrication hot-dip
galvanizing into a
very sophisticated
process that can be
used to apply thin
and specic coating
Galvanized Sheet

Painting Hot-Dip Galvanized Steel

Painting over hot-dip galvanized steel, called a duplex
system, is a common practice for a number of reasons,
including aesthetics, safety marking, and extended life.
Creating a successful duplex system requires proper
surface preparation and communication with the
galvanizer about the intent to paint after galvanizing.
ASTM D 6386 has been developed to provide best
practices for preparing a hot-dip galvanized surface for
Many products have been galvanized and painted
successfully for decades, including automobiles
and utility towers. For more information on duplex
systems, visit and download
the publications Duplex Systems: Painting Over Hot
Dip Galvanized Steel and/or Practical Guide for
Preparing Hot Dip Galvanized Steel for Painting.

These coating grades are in the form of a letter G, Z,

and A followed by a coating weight in mass per area.
For example, a G90 grade means the sheet has been
galvanized with 0.90 oz/ft2 (0.45 oz/ft2 per side) and
an A60 grade means the galvanized sheet was further
annealed and has 0.60 oz/ft2 overall (0.30 oz/ft2 per side).
This process is also called continuous galvanizing and
is specied in ASTM A 653/A 653 M, Steel Sheet,
Zinc-Coated (Galvanized) or Zinc-Iron Alloy-Coated
(Galvannealed) by the Hot-Dip Process. Common
coating weights specied for sheet products are: G60,
G90 and G185. These also exist as metric counterparts
with G90 being equivalent to a Z275 coating. For
more information about sheet steel products, contact
the GalvInfo Center at

Design Considerations

Now that we know the history, processes, and

performance characteristics of galvanizing, lets
examine characteristics for quality galvanizing.
Protection against corrosion begins at the drawing board.
No matter what corrosion protection system is specied,
it must be factored into the products design.

Once the decision has been made to hot-dip galvanize steel

for maximum corrosion protection, the design engineer
should ensure the pieces can be suitably fabricated for the
highest-quality galvanizing.
There are a few considerations when designing
components for galvanizing. These guidelines are relatively
simple and will help ensure maximum corrosion protection.

Things to consider while designing, detailing, and

fabricating steel to be galvanized:
The weight of fabricated items should be considered in the design
of pieces for hot-dip galvanizing because the cranes/hoists used
in the handling processes required to move items though the
galvanizing facility have maximum limits.
Design a eld splice at every other oor for heavy and long
Increase the column size so doubler plates and cover plates are not
required at the web and ange to satisfy the loads.

Figure 6: Shear Connection

Use W & WT members for bracing in place of back to back

stitched angle.
Use connections that can be welded all around.
Provide shear plate connections in place of clip angles (Figure 6).
Incorporate one-sided clip connections in place of clip angles
(Figure 7).


Figure 7: One-sided Clip Angle

Use seated connections in place of clip angles

(Figure 8).
Design end plate connections in lieu of clip angles
(Figure 9).
Attach curb plates after galvanizing.
Avoid combining different materials & nishes
because pickling time and immersion time in the
zinc bath may affect the coating appearance and/
or cause slight warpage and/or distortion due to
varying temperature gradients (Figure 10).
Asymmetrical steel sections
Use W shapes for ll beams to avoid the
distortion of asymmetrical pieces.
Weld stair stringer and steps into frames to add
symmetry and support during galvanizing.
Steel section of unequal thickness and size
There are ways to fabricate steel weldments to
guard against warping. Typically, bracing or using
structural steel of symmetrical shape and similar
thickness provides quality nished product with little
or no distortion or warpage. See ASTM A 384 for
best practices, and then contact your local galvanizer
for more information.

Figure 8: Seated Connection

Figure 9: End Plate Connection

Welding Procedure
It is common practice to weld steel prior to
galvanizing, which ensures the entire structure is
coated with zinc. There are a few things to consider
when welding before galvanizing, including the
removal of contaminants and the viscosity of zinc.

Flux & Slag Removal

As with any fabrication to be galvanized, the steels
surface needs to be completely free of any residues
including weld ux and weld slag. Welding ux is
the material used to prevent the formation of, or to
dissolve and facilitate removal of, oxides and other
undesirable substances. Weld slag is the material
resulting from the combination of weld material and
weld ux and both will inhibit localized formation of
the galvanizing coating.

Ductile iron pipe with

machined flange

Machine surfaces
on pitted steel

Forged bolt with

machined threads



Castings with
mild carbon steel




Steel with different

surface conditions

Figure 10: Design Guidelines to Avoid

Neither can be removed by the chemicals used in the

galvanizing process, and thus they will need to be
removed by mechanical means before shipping to the
galvanizers facility.
Overlapping Surfaces


Good Weld
Seal Weld
For highest quality galvanizing and nal appearance,
smooth clean welds free of ux and slag are

Stitch- and Seal-welding

Best welding practice for galvanizing is to stitch weld with

a gap greater than 3/32 or seal-weld when this gap
distance is not possible. If the areas to be enclosed by
seal welding are greater than 16 in2, vent holes must be
supplied in the design to allow the expanding gas in the
enclosed area to be vented during galvanizing. ASTM
A 385 gives guidance on hole sizes and quantities
based on the area to be enclosed.

Seal-welding a weld used primarily to obtain

tightness and prevent the ow of cleaning solutions
and zinc into otherwise enclosed areas, to prevent
ash steaming causing localized ungalvanized areas.

Stitch-welding a weld with at least 3/32 gap which

Stitch-welding and seal-welding are both commonly will allow cleaning solutions and zinc to ow into and
used in fabrications for galvanizing. However, there are out of the weld area.
best practices for using one or the other. Consider the

Drilling and Cutting

The viscosity of molten zinc is low and thus

prevents it from entering gaps of 3/32 and
smaller, but cleaning solutions used in the process
can penetrate such openings.
Overlapping and contacting surfaces, like stitch
welds, allow the cleaning solutions used in the
galvanizing process to penetrate between the steel.
If cleaning solutions penetrate a gap, and zinc cannot,
pressure and steam can build up along the weld. This
not only may result in ash steaming that prevents the
galvanized coating from forming around the weld but
also creates steam pressure that may compromise the
integrity of the weld. Also, the trapped solutions may
eventually react with the uncoated steel hidden by the
weld or overlapping surfaces. This manifests as iron
oxide that weeps out to form an unsightly brown stain
on the galvanized surface..


Sheared Edge Embrittlement

Drill holes in place of punching in thicker material

and gas cut in place of shearing to avoid cracks at
edges. Punching and shearing are cold-working forces
that put internal stress on steel. The punched hole
or shear location may result in an accelerated rate of
embrittlement of the steel.

Sheared Edge
If these edges are exposed during the hot-dip
galvanizing process, the microcracks that formed
on the sheared edges may propagate into the steel.
These edges may need to be ground to remove any
microcracks formed during shearing.

Venting & Drainage

Proper venting is required on tubular assemblies such
as handrails, pipe columns and pipe trusses. This
allows trapped air to escape the part and prevents
the air from becoming superheated steam in the

Punched Hole Embrittlement

molten zinc that could build up pressure. This built

up pressure may not only damage the coating, but
can also physically explode and endanger galvanizing
personnel. Structures may be internally or externally
vented (see Figure 11).

Drainage the act, process, or mode of becoming

emptied or freed of molten zinc.

Venting providing holes in fabrications to be

galvanized to allow entrapped, heated liquids and
gases to escape as temperature and pressure increase.
Proper Baseplate Drainage

Venting and Drainage: Cap & Base Plates

There is a reason for base and cap plates to have venting
and drainage holes as shown here. When they enter the
galvanizing bath air can escape and allow zinc to come in
contact with the entire inside surface of the pipe or tube.
Additionally, when they are removed from the galvanizing
bath, zinc is not trapped inside.

Figure 11: Internal and External Venting

Handrail Preferred Venting & Drainage

In the picture below, the numbers correspond to the
following items:
1. External vent holes
2. Internal vent holes
3. Open end drains

(See detail sketch, page 21, for more information)

In the picture above, the end plate design is such that the
holes are used for drainage but only in the orientation
shown. If turned 90 degrees the base plates will trap zinc
upon removal from the galvanizing bath. Contact your local
galvanizer for the proper way to vent pipes and tubes.
If steel is not adequately or properly vented, it may
become a danger to galvanizer personnel, as well
as allow explosive pressure to build, resulting in
irreparable damage to the steel.

Common baseplate venting

(See detail sketch, page 22, for more information)


Cropping For Drainage


To achieve effective galvanizing, the cleaning

solutions and molten zinc must ow completely into,
over, through and out of the fabricated steel. Below
(Figures 12-15) are recommended types of drainage
design to avoid improper drainage resulting in poor
appearance, bare spots, and/or excessive buildup of
zinc. This buildup may make the part heavier than
anticipated in the design. Proper communication
throughout the project will help attain good design
for drainage.

It is possible to mask
sections of a part to
avoid the development of
the galvanized coating.
Examples where masking
is commonly used:
1. Field welded shear studs
2. Slip critical bolt surfaces
3. Field welded splice areas


All stiffeners and gusset plates should be cropped There are 4 categories of masking material:
(See Figure 12&14) to provide an opening with a
Acid-resistant, high temperature tapes
minimum of 0.3 in or 13/16 in. hole at the corners of
Water-based pastes and paint-on formulations
all stiffeners. (See Figure 13&15).
Resin-based, high temperature paints
High temperature greases
Masking using a material to produce intentionally
ungalvanized areas, typically used on surfaces to be welded,
on faying surfaces, or areas where the galvanized steel
coating is not necessary for uniform corrosion protection.

Figure 13: Hole
close to corner

Figure 12: Cropped

Corners (Preferred)

Figure 14: Cropped

Corners (Preferred)

Figure 15: Holes

at Corner (Alternative)

(See detail sketch, page 23-24,

for more information)

Permanent identication practices include:

Stamping the surface of the material using diecut deep stencils or a series of punch-marks
toward the center of the pieces.
A series of weld beads to mark letters or numbers
directly onto the material. It is essential that all
weld ux be removed in order to achieve the
highest-quality galvanized coatings.
Deep stenciling a steel tag (minimum #12 gauge)
and rmly afxing it to the material with a
minimum #9 gauge steel wire. If desired, tags
may be seal-welded directly onto the material.

Repair of Venting Holes

If vent holes need to be closed after galvanizing, as

they often are in handrail pieces, aluminum or zinc
plugs can be used.




Common identification practices

A similar process is suggested for oversizing open

holes. The hot-dip galvanizing process adds a
coating of zinc to steel in the range of 2-8 mils. When
designing open holes, it is necessary to plan for the
increased thickness on both the fastener and the hole
(see Table 1). If after galvanizing, the hole is still not
large enough, it can be reamed. A small amount of
reaming will not affect the corrosion protection.

Barcode Tags

Barcode Tags
Metal barcode tags can also be used to identify materials.
These tags are resistant to caustic wash and acid pickling.
The tags will survive the molten zinc bath with minimal
damage, as they are durable in a wide temperature range
(-22F to 1400F (-30C to 760C)).
Additional information can be stored in the bar code
besides the piece mark, including job name and
number, grade of steel, weight of piece, name of
customer, etc.

Galvanized Bolts, Nuts, and Holes

Nuts and threaded holes fabricated in steel to be hotdip galvanized should be retapped or rethreaded after
galvanizing to remove the zinc coating and provide
clearance for the coated bolt. When the fastener system
is assembled, the coating from the bolt will provide
protection for the uncoated threads on the nut or hole
since zinc coatings cathodically protect uncoated
steel. Retapping is done to the nut so no uncoated
threads (Figure 16) on the bolts (outside the nut) are
exposed to weather without galvanized protection.
Standard practice for structural connections is to
galvanize the nuts as blanks and then tap the threads
after galvanizing.

Figure 16: Bolt Micrograph

Galvanized Table for Oversized Holes

Not certified by AISC or AGA
Nominal bolt
Diameter (db)

Hole Diameter (in.)

Hole Diameter (in.)

db < 1/2

db + 1/16

db + 2/16

1/4 (4/16)


3/8 (6/16)

1/2 (8/16)


5/8 (10/16)

1/2 < db < 1

db + 1/16

db + 3/16

5/8 (10/16)



3/4 (12/16)



7/8 (14/16)


1 1/16 (17/16)

1 < db < 1 1/8

db + 1/16

db + 4/16

1 (16/16)

1 1/16 (17/16)

1 1/4 (20/16)

db > 1 1/8

db + 1/16

db + 5/16

1 1/8 (18/16)

1 3/16 (19/16)

1 7/16 (23/16)

Table 1: Standard Clearance Hole Diameter

The numbers in the parenthesis are equal to the
number outside of the parenthesis and can be used for
easier calculations.
Note: When over-sizing holes, check with the design
engineer for bearing surface area of the bolt head.

Bolts used in a bridge structure


Temporary Bracing
Large diameter, thin-walled pipe and many long or
complex fabrications may require temporary bracing
to prevent possible distortion. The slow (3 ft/min)
immersion of steel items into the zinc bath creates an
uneven heating and cooling gradient.

Progressive Dipping

Galvanizing Oversized Pieces

Progressive dipping, sometimes erroneously referred to
as double dipping, is used when pieces are too large to t
in the galvanizing kettle in one pass. Progressive dipping
Temporary bracing
increases the potential for warpage and distortion since a
Temporary bracing metal attached to a fabrication section of the steel fabrication will be outside the molten
prior to galvanizing in order to provide added support zinc, and therefore, cold and stiff while the immersed
so the steel does not change shape during heating section of the steel is hot and ductile.
and cooling. Temporary bracing is removed after
This uneven temperature gradient may cause distortion
of the steel fabrication. Other issues associated
with progressive dipping include additional handling
costs and an overlap line (albeit having no effect on the
corrosion protection provided). When possible, design
With respect to providing lifting points, consider the for a splice to allow pieces to be dipped in one pass.

Lifting Aids

Touchup and Repair

Where possible, lifting points (see illustration

below) should be provided at the quarter points for ASTM A780 describes three acceptable methods of repairing
symmetrical parts; this avoids chain or wire marks hot-dip galvanized steel (zinc solder, metallizing, and zinc rich
paint). The touch-up and repair method chosen should consider
on the sides of the parts.
Holes for hooks may be included in the design
to allow the galvanizer to hang the material from
overhead xtures.

the specic use of the galvanized steel and the performance

characteristics of each method. Corrosion protection should
always be the primary consideration, but certain uses and
conditions may warrant selection on the basis of other
performance characteristics.

Lifting points connectors (sometimes temporary)

directly on the steel article that aid the galvanizer in
handling the article throughout the galvanizing process,
especially if the piece to be galvanized is oversized
1/4 points

(See detail sketch, page 25, for more information)


Zinc Rich Paint

When steel parts are removed from the molten zinc bath,
the hot-dip galvanized coating can appear bright and
shiny, spangled, matte gray, or a combination of these.
Regardless of the appearance, the corrosion protection
afforded is the same. After a few months of exposure
to the atmosphere, hot-dip galvanizing forms a protective
layer of zinc corrosion byproducts that will give all pieces
a uniform, matte gray appearance.

Shiny surface

Dull and Shiny surface

To learn more about design guidelines for galvanized steel,

visit and download the publications
The Design of Products to be Hot-Dip Galvanized
After Fabrication and/or Recommended Details for
Galvanizing Structures.

Dull surface

Spangled surface



A 36
A 123/ A 123 M
A 143

Specification for Structural Steel

Specification For Zinc (Hot-Dip Galvanized) Coatings On Iron And
Steel Products
Practice For Safeguarding Against Embrittlement of Hot-Dip Galvanized
Structural Steel Products and Procedure for Detecting Embrittlement

A 153/ A 153 M

Specification For Zinc Coating (Hot-Dip) On Iron And Steel Hardware

A 384/ A 384 M

Practice For Safeguarding Against Warpage And Distortion During HotDip Galvanizing Of Steel Assemblies
Practice For Providing High-Quality Zinc Coatings (Hot-Dip)
Specification for Cold-Formed Welded and Seamless Carbon Steel
Structural Tubing in Rounds and Shapes
Specification for Hot-Formed Welded and Seamless Carbon Steel
Structural Tubing
Standard Specification for Carbon and Alloy Steel Nuts
Specification for High-Strength Low-Alloy Columbium-Vanadium Steels of
Structural Quality
Specification For Zinc-Coated (Galvanized) Steel Bars For Concrete
Practice For Repair Of Damaged And Uncoated Areas Of Hot-Dip
Galvanized Coatings
Specifications for Steel Structural Shapes For Use in Building Framing

A 385
A 500
A 501
A 563
A 572
A 767/ A 767 M
A 780
A 992
D 6386

Specification For Zinc

Practice For Preparation Of Zinc (Hot-Dip Galvanized) Coated Iron And
Steel Products And Hardware Surfaces For Painting

E 376

Practice For Measuring Coating Thickness By Magnetic-Field Or EddyCurrent (Electromagnetic) Test Methods



Structural Steel with Improved Resistance to Brittle Fracture

G40.12* General Purpose Structural Steel


Galvanizing of Irregularly Shaped Articles

* Superseded by G40.20/G40.21 General Requirements for Rolled or Welded Structural Quality



Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does galvanizing protect steel from corrosion?

Zinc metal used in the galvanizing process provides

an impervious barrier between the steel substrate and
corrosive elements in the atmosphere. It does not allow
moisture and corrosive chlorides and suldes to attack the
steel. Zinc is more importantly anodic to steel meaning
it will corrode before the steel, until the zinc is entirely

2. How long can I expect my galvanized steel projects

to last in service?
Hot-dip galvanized steel resists corrosion in numerous
environments extremely well. It is not uncommon
for galvanized steel to last more than 70 years under
certain conditions.
3. Does the galvanized steel coating of zinc resist
The three intermetallic layers that form during the
galvanizing process are all harder than the substrate steel
and have excellent abrasion resistance.
4. Why do galvanized steel appearances differ from
project to project and galvanizer to galvanizer, and
is there any difference in the corrosion protection
offered by the different appearing coatings?
The appearance of the coating (matte gray, shiny,
spangled) does nothing to change the corrosion protection
of the zinc coating. The corrosion protection is a function
of the amount of zinc in the coating, more zinc equals
longer life.
5. Can galvanized steel in service withstand high
temperatures for long periods of time?
Constant exposure to temperatures below 390F (200C) is
a perfectly acceptable environment for hot-dip galvanized
steel. Good performance can also be obtained when
hot-dip galvanized steel is exposed to temperatures above
390F (200C) on an intermittent basis.
6. Why would you want to paint over galvanized steel?
Called duplex coatings, zinc and paint in combination
(synergistic effect) will protect a structure 1.5 to 2.5
times the sum of the corrosion protection each alone
would provide. Additionally, duplex coatings make for
easy repainting, excellent safety marking systems, and
good color-coding. Painting over galvanized steel that
has been in service for many years also extends the life
of the zinc coating.

7. Isnt galvanizing more expensive than paint?

Depending on the product mix, square feet per ton, and
condition of the steel surface, galvanizing is often less
expensive on an initial cost basis. However, as with any
purchase, the life-cycle costs should be considered when
making a project decision on the corrosion protection
system to utilize. And, with galvanizing, the lifecycle cost, i.e. the cost per year to maintain, is almost
always less than a paint system. Paint systems require
maintenance, partial repainting and full repainting
several times over a 30-year project life. The costs can
be staggering, making the decision to paint a costly one
in the long run. To run the comparison yourself, visit
8. What if the article to be galvanized is larger than
the dimensions of the galvanizers kettle? Can it
still be galvanized?
Galvanizers can progressively dip such a fabrication or
article of steel. They dip one half in the molten zinc
bath, remove it, turn it around or over and immerse
the other half in the zinc. This method is sometimes
erroneously referred to as double dipping.
9. Are there any special design and fabrication
considerations required to make steel ready for hotdip galvanizing?
Yes. Specically, fabricated steel must allow for easy
ow of the cleaning chemicals and molten zinc metal
over and through it. This means that gussets must be
cropped, holes put in the proper location for draining
and venting of zinc from tubular congurations, weld
ux removed, overlapping surfaces must be sealwelded, and light gauge material temporarily braced.
10. Sometimes, the galvanized coating is shinier in
some places than others. Why is that?
The galvanized coating appearance may either be
bright and shiny resulting from the presence of
an outer layer of pure zinc, or duller, matte gray
as the result of the coatings intermetallic layers
being exposed. The appearance has no affect on the
corrosion performance of the coating. Over time and
exposure to the environment, all galvanized coatings
become a uniform, matte gray.
11. Is the zinc coatings thickness consistent over the
entire piece?
Coating thickness depends on the thickness,
roughness, chemistry, and design of the steel being
galvanized. Any or all of these factors could produce
galvanized coatings of non-uniform thickness.


12. How much weight will my material gain from

As an average, the weight of the article will
increase by about 3.5% due to zinc picked up in the
galvanizing process. However, that gure can vary
greatly based on numerous factors. The fabrications
shape, size, and steel chemistry all play a major role
in the nal weight.
13. Im interested in specifying hot-dip galvanizing
for reinforcing steel. Are there any concerns with
fabricating rebar after galvanizing?
Rebar can be fabricated after galvanizing, but the
fabrication process may induce damage into the
protective coating and reduce the life of the material.
14. Can I specify how much zinc to put on the steel?
No, the steel chemistry and surface condition are
the primary determinants of zinc coating thickness.
Leaving the steel in the molten zinc a little longer
than optimal may have one of two effects:
1) it may increase the coating thickness, but only
marginally; 2) or it may signicantly increase the
coating thickness and cause a brittle coating.
15. What does it mean to double-dip steel?
Double-dipping is the progressive dipping of steel
too large to t into the kettle in a single dip. Doubledipping cannot be used to produce a thicker hot-dip
galvanized coating.
16. What is the reason for incorporating venting &
drainage holes into a projects design?
The primary reason for vent holes is to allow
otherwise trapped air and gases to escape; the
primary reason for drain holes is to allow cleaning
solutions and molten zinc metal to ow entirely into,
over, and throughout the part, and then back into the
tank or kettle.

17. Is there a way to provide for intentionally

ungalvanized areas?
Yes, but because masking or stop-off materials may
not be 100% effective, contact your galvanizer for

18. Is there any environmental impact when the zinc

coating sacricially corrodes? Is zinc a safe metal?
There are no known studies to suggest zinc corrosion
products cause any harm to the environment. Zinc is
a naturally occurring element (27th most abundant
element in the earths crust), and necessary for all
organisms to live. It is a recommended part of our diet
(RDA 15 mg) and necessary for reproduction. It is
used in baby ointments, vitamins, surgical instruments,
sunscreens and cold lozenges.
19. Should I be concerned when galvanized steel
comes in contact with other metals?
Zinc is a noble metal and will sacrice itself (i.e.
corrode, give up its electrons and create a bi-metallic
couple) to protect most metals. So, it is recommended
to insulate galvanized steel so it doesnt come in
direct contact with dissimilar metals. Rubber or
plastic, both non-conductive, are often used to
provide this insulation.
20. What is cold galvanizing?
There is no such thing as cold galvanizing. The term is
often used in reference to zinc-rich paint. Galvanizing by
denition means a metallurgical reaction between zinc
and iron to create a bond between the zinc and the steel of
approximately 3600 psi. There is no such reaction when
zinc-rich paints are applied and the bond strength is only
several hundred psi.

For additional information please visit

the American Galvanizers Associations website








For additional information please visit

the American Galvanizers Associations website

Special Thanks To:

Michael Tinker Pacific Drafting Inc.
Rodelio Carpio Pacific Drafting Inc.
Bernardo Duran American Galvanizers Association
Jenny Clawson - American Galvanizers Association
Cecile Elliott American Galvanizers Association
Kevin Hobson Calwest Galvanizing


National Institute of Steel Detailing

7700 Edgewater Dr. Ste. 670
Oakland, CA 94621-3022