A Guide To Saltwater Corrosion Resistant Glazing

Best Glazing Materials for High Humidity and Saltwater Exposure

A Guide to Saltwater Corrosion Resistant Glazing

When designing structures exposed to high levels of humidity or corrosive coastal elements such as saltwater, a thorough evaluation and specification procedure is essential in ensuring a build’s effective, long lasting performance. 

This guide will outline all the necessary considerations regarding glazing system types, glass specification, as well as framing finishes built to withstand saltwater corrosion. 

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Saltwater Corrosion Resistant Glass

Glass is widely believed to be entirely smooth, however, it actually possesses a microscopically rough surface. 

In saltwater rich environments, these tiny ridges are exactly where coastal deposits would embed themselves into the glass and potentially scratch or damage the exterior surface. 

Low Maintenance Glass

To tackle this issue, specific protective layers designed for marine conditions, referred to as ‘Low Maintenance coatings,’ can be applied to the outer surface of the glass unit to prevent the accumulation of debris. 

This coating is applied by filling the microscopic pores and indentations on the glass surface, resulting in an exceptionally smooth glass exterior. This smoothness prevents salt and other elements carried by ocean air from adhering to the glass, safeguarding against potential damage and against damage while also making cleaning much easier. 

The low maintenance coating is completely transparent and has no impact on the appearance, light transmission, or reflectivity of the glass panel. This makes it an ideal choice for oversized glass installations, such as floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and structural glass walls

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Glass Balustarde Close Up
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Metal Framework for Saltwater Corrosion Resistant Glazing

Like glass, metal also demands specialized marine-grade treatments to endure coastal elements and guarantee the longevity of a glazing system.  

Given the precise nature of these needs, three materials stand out as notably effective in marine grade framing. 

Marine Grade Aluminium

In marine environments, aluminium’s inherent durability and ease of maintenance make it the first choice for a framing material.  

To achieve a long-lasting finish and ensure the full protection of the aluminium frame’s base against saltwater corrosion, aluminium frames undergo a strengthening process referred to as ‘anodising’.
Anodization is accomplished by inducing the accumulation of oxygen on the aluminium surface, initiating a chemical reaction that results in the formation of a layer of aluminium oxide bonded to the metal frame.

This treatment is then followed by the application of a marine grade polyester powder coating for maximum protection. 

Such PPC coatings are usually recommended to be 50 microns thick. To this end, all aluminium framing from IQ Glass has a PPC thickness of 60 microns as standard. 

As IQ have extensive experience in sizeable coastal projects, we always adhere to this two-part finishing process for all our marine grade glazing systems. 

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Marine Grade Steel

Opting for steel frames in highly humid, saltwater environments is generally discouraged as steel welded joints tend to be much more susceptible to corrosion compared to aluminium framings.  

However, IQ offer MHB steel systems which are specifically designed for marine environments. All the finishes applied to MHB steel frames hold certification for ‘super durable quality’ and have undergone testing in accordance with ISO 2810, including three-year outdoor exposure tests in Florida. 

These coatings come in three grades. Grade 2 coatings are appropriate for coastal projects within 1-6km of the seafront, while Grade 3 coatings are applied to a stainless steel base frame and are suitable for projects directly facing the sea.

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Marine Grade Bronze

Authentic architectural bronze frames, thanks to their copper components, possess inherent resistance to corrosion and remarkable strength due to the presence of zinc in the alloy. 

As exposure to saltwater naturally weathers bronze frames, this metal is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a unique, ever evolving colouration. However, as this type of weathering is irregular by nature and varying in both intensity and hues, opting for a bronze effect finish might be prove a suitable solution if the end goal is a wholly uniform design. 

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Bronze Effect Aluminium Frames

Through the aforementioned anodization process, aluminium frames can achieve a smooth, elegant bronze finish, free of any weathering patterns or patina textures. 

Bronze Effect Steel Frames

Stainless steel is inherently stronger than aluminium, yet achieving a polished look in its raw state may be more challenging. However, through PPC coated steel, metallic bronze finishes can be achieved with textures that are interesting to the touch all the while preserving a uniform colouration.

Contact the IQ team today to discuss saltwater corrosion resistant glazing systems for your next project.