Metal Finishing Choices For The Eco-Friendliest Fencing

When a person, business, or organization is looking to install fencing and wants to be environmentally friendly, the first thing that often comes to mind is recycled materials. It's true that using recycled and reclaimed materials is good for the environment, but going green doesn't have to end there. For eco-friendly metal fencing, consider choosing an anodized or powder-coat finish.

The Basics Of Anodization and Powder Coating

Anodization is a common way to finish aluminum fencing. The process involves submerging aluminum in an electrolytic solution and passing a current through it. This causes the outer layer of the aluminum to oxidize. Unlike the rust produced when iron oxidizes, however, aluminum oxide is desirable for its durability and resistance to corrosion.

Powder coating can be used on many different metals, and you may see it on both steel and aluminum fencing. Unlike traditional paint, powder coatings are dry and free of solvents. The powder is applied to the metal and bonded electrostatically; then this coating is baked or cured, melting into a smooth, tough outer layer.

Reduced VOCs

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a class of air pollutants. VOCs include many different chemicals that are given off as gases by other materials, ranging from paints to cleaners to pesticides. They are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as many of them are known or suspected carcinogens.

As paint dries, it emits solvents such as formaldehyde and acetone into the air as VOCs. Powder-coating and anodizing, on the other hand, are great ways to reduce the use of VOCs as they don't require solvents.

Reduced Manufacturing Waste

This is an area where powder coating really shines. In both painting and powder-coating, overspray will result in some of the material being "wasted." However, unlike oversprayed paint that must be cleaned up afterwards, this powder can be reclaimed and reused on-site. And if, for any reason, the excess powder is not simply reused, it is also a recyclable material.

Improved Recyclability

Anodized aluminum has a big advantage when it comes to later recycling: there are no extra steps, like stripping paint or removing metal plating, needed before the material can be recycled. That means less energy needs to be used in the recycling process.

While powder coatings do need to be removed before metal can be recycled, this is generally easy to do. Extreme heat can be used to burn the powder coating off of the base metal, which can then be recycled as normal. If you are interested in green metal fencing finishes, contact a fencing contractor such as Phoenix Fence, Co.