Offering lifetime warranties on the fences they put in helps contractors who install ironwork fences attract customers. If you're a contractor who provides ironwork fences, you could gain a competitive advantage in your area by giving customers lifetime warranties. If you decide to use this marketing strategy, though, make sure your company uses hot-dip galvanized iron in all of the fences you install. Cold-galvanized iron won't stand up to the elements as well, and using it could lead to a bunch of warranty claims that you must honor.
Rain, Snow, Sleet, and Hail Will Rust Iron
As Fred Senese explains, water will rust iron: Water (H2O) and iron (Fe) react when they come into contact with each other to form iron (III) hydroxide (Fe(OH)3), which forms iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) when it dries. Iron (III) oxide is rust.
Because ironwork fences are typically installed outside, they're exposed to a lot of water. Rain, snow, sleet, and hail all expose ironwork fences to water and will cause rust if they come into contact with the iron in a fence.
Galvanization Prevents Rust
Galvanized iron is coated with a layer of zinc that protects the iron from rust. Any water that comes into contact with the fence will contact the zinc coating, which doesn't rust, instead of the iron in the fence. Because the water and iron aren't able to come into physical contact, the chemical process listed above won't take place.
To be effective, the zinc coating must be evenly applied. Thin spots will provide less protection than thickly coated areas, and the iron must be completely covered with zinc. Any uncoated spot will eventually rust, no matter how small it is, and defeat the purpose of galvanizing the iron.
There are two types of galvanization: cold galvanization and hot-dip galvanization.
Cold Galvanization is Cheap But Ineffective
Many contractors use cold-galvanized iron because it's inexpensive. In cold galvanization, a zinc-laden paint is applied to iron at ambient temperatures. The paint is affordable, readily available, and can be applied on site during the installation of an ironwork fence.
Cold galvanization, however, is only minimally effective. There are three factors that reduce the amount of protection cold galvanization provides:
Hot-Dip Galvanization Costs More But Affords Better Protection
Hot-dip galvanization provides much better protection than cold galvanization, because, as Voigt & Schweitzer show, hot-dip galvanization completely and evenly coats each piece of iron. In this method of galvanization, the pieces of iron are fully submerged in a zinc bath. The bath completely and evenly coats the iron with a zinc coating—even the insides of hollow pieces get covered.
Hot-dip galvanization costs more because dipping pieces of iron in a bath is more involved than spray painting them. This process, however, provides lasting protection against rust. Iron that is hot-dip galvanized can last for 50 to 80 years.
If you want to attract customers by offering lifetime warranties on your ironwork fences, reduce how many claims your company will have to honor by using hot-dip galvanized iron. With life spans of 50 to 80 years, fences made with this type of galvanized iron should last longer than the length of your lifetime warranties. Using hot-dip galvanized iron may increase upfront costs, but you'll save money on warranty claims.
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