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Fasteners In Salt Water Environments: What You Need To Know

Fasteners In Salt Water Environments

One of the biggest complaints we hear about are fasteners rusting prematurely. The first question we are likely to ask is “Are you within 20 miles of a salt water environment?”

Surprisingly, an overwhelming amount of customers say yes. It is commonly understood that metal rusts and that it rusts worse in corrosive environments. It is not commonly understood that those environments spread beyond what the eye can see, however, this should be one of the bigger factors taken into consideration when buying fasteners.

Stainless steel is a prime example of this. Almost anyone you talk to can tell you stainless steel is corrosion resistant, but did you know that grade 410 stainless steel is less corrosion resistant because it is heat-treated to be harder? or that grade 304 stainless is not suited for highly corrosive environments?

In fasteners, the material and sometimes even the grade matter when it comes to choosing the right fastener for your installations. There are several materials that do extremely well in salt-water environments, some that kind of work and some that are almost guaranteed to fail.

What You Should Use

fasteners for salt water: aluminum, silicon bronze, 316 stainless steel

There are generally a few materials that work extremely well in salt-water environments. Depending on your needs you should aim to choose from the following:

  • Grade 316 Stainless Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Silicon Bronze

These materials (or specific grades) are ideal for salt-water environments because they can resist the corrosive effects that salt-water very well.

Another option to try is HDG (Hot Dip Galvanized) fasteners. HDG is a form of zinc coating that will protect the fastener from harm and is usually a cheaper option but is not a perfect solution.

HDG fasteners can handle well in certain salt-water environments but results can vary depending on if they are submerged, water temperature and air temperature. Due to these factors, we do not recommend it as it will likely not perform as well as the materials listed above.



Pro Tip

Although 316 stainless steel and aluminum are both listed as good materials to use in corrosion resistant environments, you also do not want to mix the two. If you do, the process of galvanic corrosion is more than likely to occur, resulting in a significantly shortened lifespan for your fasteners.

To see the fasteners we carry in these selections check out our marine grade and aluminum fasteners pages.

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Black Oxide Coating: What Is Black Oxide?

Black Oxide Coating: What Is Black Oxide?black oxide treated lock washers

Black Oxide, sometimes called blackening, is the act of converting the top layer of a ferrous material with a chemical treatment. Treating fasteners with a black oxide coating not only adds a nice clean black look but can also add a mild layer of corrosion and abrasion resistance. To achieve the maximum in corrosion resistance, black oxide can either be waxed or oiled to add an extra layer of protection. The wax coating may dull the color of the treatment but provides the best resistance. The black oxide treatment is also referred to as gun bluing.

When fasteners are dipped into the black oxide bath materials (warm and hot processes) the harsh chemical components convert the top layer into magnetite. Black Oxide Stainless Steel Nuts Bolts and Washers are the most common form of black oxide fastener available. Prized both for the corrosion resistance of stainless steel with the added benefits of the black oxide treatment.



Materials That Can Get The Black Oxide Treatment

blackening finishing cup washers

  • Stainless Steel
  • Copper
  • Copper Based Alloys
  • Zinc
  • Powdered Metals
  • Silver Solder

The Black Oxide Processes

Blackening can be achieved in a number of different ways. There are three main ways to do this. If you are interested in the specifics of each type check out this article from Wikipedia.

Hot Bath

The process of treating the fasteners in different chemicals in order to convert the surface material into magnetite. The process is completed by dipping the fasteners into different tanks and occasionally placed in water. Once the process of dipping is completed the top layer of the fastener is porous and a layer of oil is applied. The oil seeps into the material adding that extra corrosion resistance to rust. This process creates a black oxide bath that complies with MIL-DTL-13924, AMS 2485, ASTM D769 and ISO 11408 standards.

Cold Coating

The cold process applies a compound (copper selenium) onto the fasteners at room temperature. This process is more convenient for working in house as it does not require many chemicals at heated temperatures to apply. Once applied it is considered weaker than the other forms of oxidization until a layer of oil or wax is applied to the surface.

Mid-Temperature Bath

Like the hot bath treatment method but does not produce the same toxic fumes of the hot bath and the surface is converted to magnetite at a much lower temperature. This method can also meet the same military standards that the hot bath version produces.

Benefits Of Black Oxide Fastenersblack stainless steel socket set screws

  • Does not significantly change the dimensions of the fasteners as hot dip galvanizing does.
  • A cheaper alternative to other methods of corrosion resistance such as electroplating.
  • An appealing look when a bright shine is not desired.
  • The process can normally be done in large quantities which makes it faster and cheaper for smaller sizes.
  • Reduces the risk of galling by adding an oil finish
  • Decorative finish
  • Adds a layer of mild corrosion and abrasion resistance
  • Paint sticks well to the black coating if painting is required



Will Black Oxide Bolts Rust

Black Oxide adds a mild layer of corrosion and abrasion resistance to fasteners. Like any material, black oxide treated fasteners can rust in the right environments. It will depend on if the fastener is damaged or marred, the type of metal with the black oxide treatment and environmental conditions.

Disadvantages Of Black Oxide

Black oxide is not nearly as corrosion resistant as some of the other options available to improve corrosion resistance.

The black oxide finish can be easily rubbed off. To prevent this, put some painters tape over the tip of your bit to create a tighter fit and prevent scratching in the event of a slip out of the drive.

The Black residue from the fasteners may come off of them so for certain applications it is recommended that they are wiped down before use. This extra step can be labor-some if many fasteners are needed.

Black oxide fasteners are largely used in the automotive industry due to their sleek black look. This look can deteriorate very quickly though in hot environments. Often, after a black oxide coat is applied to a fastener, they are placed in an oil bath for an extra layer of protection. The oil residue that stays on the fasteners will begin to turn brown when in high heat environments. So many users find they bolts look like they rust prematurely. It is not recommended to place black oxide bolts on or near engines.

Custom Coating For Fasteners

black stainless nylon insert lock nuts

Our company offers custom black oxide orders VIA phone orders. Can’t Find what you need in black oxide? Give us a call at 866-573-445 for pricing and availability!

Custom Fasteners and Hardware

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5 Stainless Steel Facts You Need To Know Before Buying Fasteners

5 Stainless Steel Facts About Fasteners You Should Know

Stainless steel fastener

Stainless steel is a highly used metal and prized for its corrosion resistance. Did you know that stainless steel actually can corrode? It’s not even that hard to make it happen. Before you buy your fasteners here are five stainless steel facts you need to know before buying fasteners.

1. Stainless Steel Is A Soft Metal (Sort Of)

Stainless steel is considered a soft metal meaning it is not great for many high load applications that require intense strength. However, certain grades are hardened to create a stronger version. It may effect the corrosion resistance of the fastener however. A classic example of this is Grade 410 Stainless Steel.

2. Stainless Steel Can Still Corrode

Stainless steel is prized for its corrosion resistance. Beyond that many don’t know anything about it. Stainless steel comes in many different grades, 304, 305 and 316 are just a few examples and each come with their own benefits. If you are within 20 miles of the beach for example, you need to make sure you use 316 stainless steel.

3. Stainless Steel Is Not Non-Magnetic

It is important to know that stainless steel is not fully non-magnetic. In situations where the non-magnetic quality of a material is critical, stainless steel is not a recommended choice.

4. Stainless Steel Has An Invisible Self Repairing Outer Layer

Stainless metals form an invisible oxide coating that protects it from external factors. This is the main reason stainless steel is so resistant to corrosion. As long as the material is in an oxygen rich environment, even if the metal is damaged removing the oxide layer, it will reform and protect the metal again.

5. Stainless Steel Reacts Negatively With Aluminum

Stainless Steel and Aluminum are two separate kinds of metal. One is positively charged (anode) and one is negatively charged (cathode). As these metals are connected and an electrolyte is introduced, such as saltwater, a transfer of electrons occurs which will ruin the integrity of the materials resulting in galvanic corrosion. To avoid these situations either use some sort of in-between like a rubber material or simply do not use them together (recommended).

Working With Stainless Steel

Ultimately stainless steel can be a bit more complicated than you thought. Stainless steel fasteners are still an excellent choice for many situations. Just take these 5 things into consideration when buying your fasteners to help you choose the appropriate material and grade.



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What Screws Should You Use For Building A Deck?

Building A Deck This Summer?Deck Screws For Building a Deck

Having a deck in your home is a luxury many people enjoy having. Being able to sit outside and enjoy the weather or view with family and friends is an excellent way to spend nice days, especially with summer right around the corner.

If you decide to take the journey of building a deck yourself, you are going to have many questions along the way. One of the most important points to consider is “Which screws should I use for this deck?”. We’ve heard this question before and there are quite a few things to take into consideration.

1. What Material Should I Use?

Of all the available materials to use for your deck, the most common is stainless steel. Stainless steel deck screws offer an excellent solution due to their increased corrosion resistance. However, stainless steel can still corrode in certain situations so make sure you have the correct grade for your environment.



2. Do You Want To See The Screw Heads?

One of the biggest concerns when making your deck is choosing the correct screw head. Deck screws are usually only found in flat head varieties so they can sit flush with the wood once installed. The question remains, do you want to see the head?

If your answer is yes, then a standard stainless steel flat head deck screw will suffice. If your answer is no, then you have a few options for hiding the screw heads.

  • Painted Head Deck Screws – These stainless steel screws are stainless steel with painted heads to match common wood colors. They are the easiest way to hide a deck screw because they are camouflaged in plain sight. Just install them as you would any other deck screw.
  • Hardwood Plug Kits – These kits come with little wood corks that you can use to cover the screws. They require more work to install properly but usually leave a great result. First a countersunk hole must be made to sink the screws lower into the wood. Then an adhesive is applied to the plug and placed in the hole over the screw head. One downfall to this method is that removing them is difficult. You can also get a drill bit that can cut these plugs for you instead of buying a kit: Hardwood Plug Cutter Bit.
  • Ipe Clips – A third and quickly becoming a very popular option are Ipe Clips. Ipe Clips are installed between the boards of a deck hiding the screws entirely. Mostly used with Ipe wood, these clips can also be used with regular wood to help create an evenly spaced deck.

What Drive Style Should I Use?

Usually, there are three types of drive to consider here. Phillips, Square or Star drive. Although all three are decent choices, we recommend using the star drive for installations. The star drive has the least chance of slippage and cam out during installation making it the ideal choice when working with finished products where slipping out of the drive could damage the surface you are working on. In fact, on many decks built today you are more likely to see star drive screws being used.

Building a deck can be a daunting task but with the proper screws you are now one step closer to enjoying your yard and the weather this year.



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What Does Anti-Seize Do?

What Does Anti-Seize Do?

Why Should You Lubricate Your Fasteners?

Fasteners are amazing holding tools used to secure materials together. They do (just like anything else) have limitations that can affect their performance. This is why you should lubricate fasteners.

The Installation Process

Fasteners in certain materials, a good example being stainless steel, have an oxide or coating covering the fastener. When you begin tightening the nut to a bolt, pressure builds along the threads. If not seated properly, tightened too quickly or even if the threads are just not perfect, there is a chance that this added pressure will shear the threads and cause imperfections. The result is that both the bolt and nut will be stuck together. In extreme cases, the metals can actually fuse together which is know as cold welding. Both of these symptoms fall under the category of thread galling.



The (MRO) Solution

 Anti Seize used to Lubricate Fasteners

So now we know what can happen if we don’t lubricate fasteners but what do we do now? Find a great lubricant! MRO Anti-seize solutions offer a great way to limit these effects. Anti-seize is simply a specially designed lubricant that minimizes friction on fasteners which in turn will help prevent the building pressure from shearing the threads. It can also make normal installations of any material much smoother. Anti-seize solutions can also provide a very light coating of protection until it has worn off. This can help maximize the life of your fasteners.

 

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