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So, do galvanized nails rust? Find the answer in this article
If you’re planning to do some outdoor repair jobs or the construction of a new porch, steps, or be it fencing, then you will want to use a nail that will not rust.
If you never expect it to rain, then you do know that long exposure to moisture will also eventually lead to rusting.
For this reason, you are probably wondering whether if you purchase galvanized nails for your work, they will rust or not.
Well, we will tackle exactly that in this article.
So read on to get the answer to do galvanized nails rust?
We shall also list some good alternatives for galvanized nails at the tail end of the article -there are several better options out there for different projects..
Do galvanized nails rust?
As you well know, nails that are exposed to weather will always be vulnerable to corrosion.
Now, this process is made worse if you live near the coast as the salty air hastens the process.
But here are some fantastic news: Galvanizing nails stems the corrosion process by protecting the nails in a zinc coating.
You see, the zinc coating is very effective against rust because zinc is way more reactive than iron which is used in making nails.
Well, because it oxidizes more easily thereby shielding the iron nails from rust.
However- and this is the truth that may disappoint you- even galvanized nails will eventually rust although the process will take longer compared to non galvanized nails.
What you need to know about the thickness of the zinc coating
There is a super important point you need to understand: The corrosion resistance is primarily determined by the thickness of the zinc coating of the galvanized nails you choose.
And that means galvanized with a thicker coating will withstand rust for the longest time.
It is also worth mentioning that environmental conditions also affect how long the galvanized nails will resist corrosion- for the most part, nails will rust faster if you live in an area with higher relative humidity, air pollution, temperature, etc.
Types of galvanized nails
There are four main types of galvanized nails that you will come across when you go shopping. They are:
- Hot-dipped galvanized nails (HDG).
- Electro-galvanized nails (EG).
- Mechanically galvanized nails.
- Tumbler hot-galvanized nails.
Keep this in mind: These nails are of different quality depending on the thickness of the zinc plate.
I shall now explain the two most commonly found galvanized nails – EG & HDG nails- to point you in the right direction.
In simple language, these nails are galvanized by bathing them in zinc using an electric current.
To explain further, the current charges the zinc acid thereby attaching the zinc to the nail’s body.
Their biggest advantage is that this process produces extremely smooth and shiny nails.
As regards the thickness of the zinc coating, EG nails typically have a thin coating of 0.36 mils (maximum).
And that is the major drawback of these nails- this ultra-thin layer makes them not last that long.
To be clear, they have a lifespan of 5 to 10+ years depending on the environmental conditions of your area.
Hot dipped galvanized nails
To be honest, hot dipped galvanized nails are the gold standard of galvanized nails due to their thicker zinc coating (it makes them last the longest).
Now, when it comes to HDG nails, they are first cleaned before being subjected to the galvanization process.
The galvanization process is as follows:
After cleaning the nails, they’re dipped in molten zinc and then spinned to get rid of the surplus coating.
Going back to the thickness of the zinc coating, these nails usually have a coating of 1.7 mils (minimum) which is way thicker than that of EG nails.
This is what makes them better suited for outdoor projects and regions with extreme weather conditions.
I should add that these nails can really last- they last for long periods of time (ranging from 30 to 50+ years, depending on the environment).
Galvanized nail vs regular nail
As you by now know, a galvanized nail is a regular nail that has an added layer of zinc coating.
Let us compare these nails in some deeper detail:
Galvanized nails last longer
In outdoor conditions, galvanized nails are able to outlive your regular nails- and this is, of course, from the simple fact that regular nails lack the extra coating to thwart corrosion.
Regular nails cost less
Cost-wise, galvanized nails are a bit more expensive compared to regular nails.
The higher price you pay for galvanized nails is to cater for the additional galvanization process that they have undergone.
Problem with both nail types
Galvanized and regular nails have one major flaw- they react with cedar, redwood, and even pressure-treated lumber.
Yeah, they do leave streaks (due to a chemical reaction with the wood), which is not something you want to happen on your timber.
That being the case, let us look at some alternatives that you may want to consider.
Galvanized nails vs aluminum nails
Aluminum nails are relatively inexpensive but that does not mean reduced strength- Aluminum nails are actually hardened to mimic steel!
Imagine this: Alcoa Care Free Homes (those 50 classic homes built by Alcoa corporation, one of world’s leading producer of aluminum in 1957) used aluminum nails 100%.
65+ years later, they are still standing strong.
Tell me: Is there better evidence of how strong aluminum is and how durable aluminum nails are?
Back to our Galvanized nails vs aluminum nails comparison: The truth is aluminum nails are a better choice to use on cedar and redwoods as they do not, in general, react with the wood as galvanized nails do.
And as concerns their pricing, aluminum nails are relatively inexpensive though they are a little more expensive than galvanized nails (you will see that when you check online sellers like Amazon).
Galvanized nails vs stainless steel
Before we wind up, it is important to compare galvanized nails vs stainless steel..
I will be very brief: Stainless nails are, no doubt, the strongest nails in the market today (Their strength also makes them the best choice for nailing pressure-treated timber).
But do stainless steel nails rust?
Don’t forget that stainless steel nails are made with the same metal as shiny kitchen pans- and the fact is no matter how long you heat your kitchen pans, wash them, and even store salty water using them, these pans never rust.
So, in a nutshell, if you live near the sea or you just in need nails that are 100% guaranteed to never rust, then you should go the stainless steel nails route.
Just so you know, stainless steel nails normally cost more than double the price of galvanized nails (check current prices).
What are galvanized nails made of?
They’re made of regular materials (mainly steel and iron) – as mentioned earlier, a galvanized nail is a regular nail that has an added layer of zinc coating
Do galvanized nails rust? Recap
Galvanized nails do eventually rust though they take more time compared with regular nails- how fast they rust mainly depends on the type of galvanization done with hot-dipped galvanized nails outliving EG nails.
One more thing: Despite the benefits of galvanized nails, we do not always recommend them for certain woods (redwood, cedar, and pressure-treated lumber).
That’s because galvanized nails (particularly those with lower quality galvanization) tend to rust quickly, which streak the wood’s surface.
Subsequently, we recommend you use aluminum and stainless-steel nails for such woods.