Can Aluminum be Galvanized?

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galvanized aluminum metal

Yes, aluminum can be galvanized. By its simplest definition, galvanized aluminum is aluminum coated with zinc. Why would we cover aluminum in zinc? Well, we will go into many uses of galvanized aluminum in just a little bit. The zinc used can be spray-painted on or molten, which would mean the aluminum would be dipped into it. Galvanized aluminum is typically used in aluminum wire or larger aluminum sheets.

When discussing the galvanization of aluminum, there are two agents we need to talk about. Sodium hydroxide was the first used on aluminum and other metals such as iron and nickel. Sodium hydroxide is used on aluminum as a base coat, making it harder for a galvanized metal to dissolve in acidic conditions. If you know your aluminum will be exposed to acidic environments, sodium hydroxide will be a go-to. For this reason, it’s used in aluminum wiring installed in housing and building constructions.

Then, there’s zinc which is far more common than sodium hydroxide. Not only does zinc give a performance, but it makes the aluminum look shiny and feel smooth on the skin. Coating aluminum with zinc makes the material more durable as it’s protected from any damage or corrosion. Galvanized aluminum coated with zinc is commonly used in aluminum roofing, water pipes, and similar constructions.

There are many other uses of galvanized aluminum. It can be everything from the body of a vehicle to any corrosive-heavy environment. The galvanization process is so important to protecting aluminum, as without it, rather quickly, the metal will corrode away. Aluminum tooling is also usually galvanized. It’s used in some aircraft and spacecraft as well. As aluminum’s oftentimes chosen over steel, galvanization only adds to its performance and strength as a metal.

To further understand how metal becomes galvanized, one must look at the chemical reaction which takes place between aluminum and zinc. You’re left with an aluminum-zinc alloy when you combine zinc and aluminum. This alloy is now its own unique metal mixture. The same thing occurs when you mix the sodium hydroxide with aluminum, producing a unique aluminum alloy.

The protection from galvanization on aluminum is quite incredible. It makes things like acid rain and saltwater from the ocean no match for the metal. It does have an expiry date, however, depending on the alloy. A lot of galvanizing protects aluminum for at least 20 years, if not significantly longer. There are dip methods common in commercial applications and spray-on galvanization, which any homeowner can use to DIY their aluminum.

Some people may wonder what’s better between steel or galvanized aluminum – well, aluminum gets our vote and here’s why. Aluminum delivers the same performance as steel, is more affordable, is more eco-friendly and 100% recyclable, is way lighter in weight and is easier to work with. Manufacturers and contractors love aluminum, and it’s often preferred over steel. You’re also going to run into trouble with galvanized steel which generally has a porous and rough surface that can be difficult to clean.

All in all, galvanized aluminum is a strong, high-performance metal you will want to use anywhere where there’s even the most minor risk of corrosion.
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