Pipe furniture is a popular way to give your home an industrial and utilitarian feel. From bookshelves to curtain rods to bookshelves to chairs and tables, you can create them all from steel pipes. The choice often falls to black and galvanized pipe, but which one is better?
Galvanized pipes are better for making furniture because they are durable and exceptionally resistant to rusting and corrosion. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor furniture. However, if you’re on a budget, you can opt for the cheaper black pipes and apply a protective coating.
The rest of the article will explore topics related to this question in detail, including the differences between black and galvanized steel pipes, their strengths and weakness, and common usage.
What Are Galvanized Pipes?
Galvanization or galvanizing is a manufacturing process that entails applying a coating of zinc on iron or steel to prevent rusting and corrosion. Hot-dip galvanizing is the most used coating process.
Hot-dip galvanizing entails dipping the iron or steel pipe in a molten pool of zinc heated at 860°F (460 °C). The process creates a metallurgical bond between zinc and the steel pipes. When exposed to the air, the pure zinc reacts with oxygen to form zinc oxide, further reacting with carbon dioxide to form zinc carbonate.
Zinc carbonate forms the final protective layer on hot-dipped galvanized steel pipes. It gives them a crystalline-like or spangle pattern.
With a formidable zinc-iron coating, galvanized steel is strong, durable, and isn’t susceptible to corrosion or rusting. The zinc coat acts as a barrier to the corrosive agents, resulting in a stable, superior quality steel product.
Benefits of Galvanized Steel Pipes
- Rust resistance. Iron is prone to rust when exposed to air and moisture. The zinc coating forms a protective buffer between the corrosive elements and the steel. The galvanizing process allows the molten zinc coat to cover every inch of the pipe, including the recesses and sharp corners, allowing pipes to resist damage.
- Cheaper than other treated steels. Galvanizing is the most affordable method of coating steel pipes and produces excellent results. Better yet, galvanized steel doesn’t require surface preparation or additional coating and painting before it’s ready to use.
- Long lifespan. A galvanized steel pipe has a life expectancy of 50 years with no maintenance whatsoever in a standard-setting. In severe water exposure, the pipes can last up to 20 years.
- The sacrificial coating. Whenever a galvanized piece is damaged, the surrounding zinc coat protects damaged steel. The protective coating corrodes first to offer sacrificial protection to the damaged area of the steel pipe.
Uses of Galvanized Steel
Galvanized steel pipes are primarily used to supply water to homes and commercial buildings. The protective zinc coating prevents corrosion and mineral build-up within the tube. However, the zinc coat tends to flake with time and might pose a health hazard when used to ferry drinking water.
Because of the cheap production process and extended lifespan of galvanized products, galvanized steel is becoming a staple in the manufacturing industry.
Galvanized metals are used to manufacture cars, bicycles, iron sheets, wires, tools, nuts, bolts, and more.
Galvanized steel is a staple in the construction industry, where it replaces bricks in modern steel frame buildings. It’s a popular choice when building structures such as staircases, balconies, walkways, verandahs, and ladders.
Galvanized steel is an excellent choice for any outdoor projects because of its ability to withstand extreme weather for many years. It’s the perfect choice for large structural pieces like fences, gutters, outdoor walkways, poles, rails, and roofs.
What Are Black Pipes?
Black pipes are uncoated steel coats with a characteristic scaly, black coating on the surface. The black color stems from the formation of iron oxide during the manufacturing process.
Black pipes are primarily used to transport gas and water, high-pressure steam and air, or conduits to protect electrical wiring. They are also used to build fire sprinkler systems because they can withstand high temperatures.
Black pipes are manufactured without a seam, making them strong and suitable for high-temperature, high-pressure applications. These pipes are a staple in the power generation, gas, oil, and pharmaceutical industries.
The seamless pipes manufacturing process starts with a solid, cylindrical chunk of steel known as a billet. Hot billets are hollowed out by driving a mandrel through their centers. The hollow billets are then rolled and stretched precisely to a predetermined diameter, length, and diameter thickness.
Benefits of Black Steel Pipes
- Strong heat resistance. Black pipes are used in fire sprinklers and pipes that transfer hot and cold water to heat exchangers due to their ability to withstand high heat.
- High corrosion resistance. Black pipes are made from mild steel, which gives them a superior corrosion resistance compared to cast iron pipes.
- Seamless. Since black pipes are cold drawn and rolled while hot, they’re stronger and safer than the seamed varieties. They can, therefore, safely move propane and natural gas without the risk of explosion.
- Affordability. Black pipes are cheaper to produce compared to galvanized pipes as another costly metal does not cover them.
- Low maintenance. Black pipes often ship with a protective oily layer that keeps the corrosive agents from penetrating the iron oxide layer. An industrial-grade iron oxide layer, often coupled with wax or oil layers, allows the pipes to be buried when used in oil and gas pipelines.
Black Pipes vs. Galvanized Pipes
- Coating. While both pipes are made of steel, the surface coating makes all the difference. Galvanized pipes are coated with zinc, which gives them a silvery gray finish. Black pipes, on the other hand, have an iron oxide coating given them a black, crusty finish.
- Corrosion resistance. Galvanized pipes can resist corrosion without additional treatment for up to 100 years. Black pipes are susceptible to rusting and corrosion and require further treatment. Proper priming and painting can reduce the black pipe’s susceptibility to rust.
- Strength. Due to their seamless production method, black pipes are structurally stronger than galvanized pipes. Seams are a structural weakness that often causes pipes to burst in a high temperature and pressure environment.
- Cost. The protective zinc coating on galvanized steel pipes makes them a tad more expensive than black steel pipes. However, these pipes are worth every penny as they have an incredibly long lifespan and require virtually no maintenance.
- Custom finish. Galvanized pipes may limit your ability to create a custom finish because they require special primer and paint, which is quite expensive. Black pipes are easy to prime and paint if you wish to have the pipe furniture match a room’s décor.
- Furniture making. Both galvanized and black pipes have a broad application in the furniture-making industry. They are available in small sizes and can be joined with the help of accessories. Galvanized pipes have a superior ability to resist rusting and corrosion. Therefore, they are suitable for making bathroom fittings such as towel racks and outdoor pieces such as railings, staircases, ladders, and balconies.
Since both black and galvanized pipes are made from steel, they are strong and durable products with diverse applications.
Galvanized pipes are a staple in the construction industry and build outdoor structures such as scaffolding, railing, and roof. Black pipes are commonly used for pipelines in the oil and gas industry.
Galvanized pipes are the best choice for furniture construction because they are resistant to corrosion and rusting and require no maintenance. Since black pipes are susceptible to rusting, they’re not suitable for making outdoor furniture or pieces to be used in a humid environment, such as towel racks.
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