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Regular maintenance is essential to maintain the good looks of your patio. It will ensure you receive the maximum possible life-span for a steel product in your location. Failure to keep the patio clean will void any product warranty.

This is an example of a 3 year old patio in Dudley Park 6210 that had not been cleaned for 18 months. What you can see is mould staining to the frame and roof sheets. This was evident also on the gutters.

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The mould you see is a combination of salt, dust, pollutants, moisture and time and is due only to the complete lack of maintenance. 

Increase any of these factors and the detrimental effects also increase.

Given our proximity to the ocean ,we are exposed to high levels of salt in the air and moist salt air sticks to the dust which has built up on the steel. The deposited grime absorbs moisture like a sponge and holds it against the powder-coated surface. This permits corrosive attack to proceed, thereby damaging the coating.

How overdue is your patio clean?

If you have eight-legged friends moving in, it's time to reach for the hose.

Wash areas that are not naturally cleaned by rain with fresh clean water. It is recommended that you clean the surface as often as you would wash your car to maintain the finish.

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Bluescope Colorbond recommend the following procedure :-

Mild Staining 

Clean the surface by washing with a mild household detergent and fresh potable water in proportions as recommended by the detergent manufacturer, then rinse well with fresh potable water.

Severe Staining

Clean the surface by washing with a mild household detergent and fresh potable water in proportions as recommended by the detergent manufacturer, then rinse well with fresh potable water.

Remove the corrosion product by using a stiff nylon brush and rinsing completely. More heavily affected areas may need a light rub with a Scotch Brite pad (not steel wool). Abrasive papers should only be used if repainting is to be conducted.

Care must be taken not to cause excessive damage to the paint film.

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The formal recommendations for the frequency of cleaning are as follows :-

In mild and moderate environments where grime deposits and pollution are at a minimum, cleaning every six months may be sufficient to remove deposits and restore the apprearance.

In industrial and marine environments, monthly cleaning is advisable, however the maximum period between cleaning should not be more than 3 months.

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Australian Steel Companies - Orrcon, Liberty OneSteel, Bluescope and Colorbond really do not offer warranties on their products. At least if warranty information can be found, it is vague at best. Many factors come into play should you want to make a warranty claim for, say, inferior product or decaying steel - namely, has the steel been regularly cleaned and maintained? A prematurely rusting steel product would need to have been neglected for some years for the structural integrity to be compromised.

Further reading :-

Repairing beyond a simple clean :-

Below are photographs of a 2015 build patio on an elevated block situated 250m from the ocean. This is a good example of how the dirt, grime and salt air can cause early deterioration of the steel product.

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However, all is not lost. Most of the corrosion you see is superficial and generally won't affect the structural integrity.

By grinding or sanding down the loose particles from the steel, you can prepare the surface back to bare metal. When back to bare metal use a solvent such as 'Shellite' which cleans the surface and evaporates quickly, then a few coats of zinc-rich primer should be applied. This step will seal the bare metal and protects it from further corrosion.

The finishing colour can then be applied. All Colorbond colours are available at Bunnings or any good paint or hardware store in spray cans. This final coat is more for aesthetics and not for corrosion protection.

This patio can be given a new lease of life with some elbow grease and ongoing regular care.

A word about swarf

Swarf is the term given to steel debris arising from cutting or piercing operations when using friction saws, abrasive discs, drills etc, on steel roofing and walling products.

Swarf particles, if left on the surface, will corrode and cause rusty stains which will detract from the finished appearance of the product. These stains are often mistaken for early deterioration of the roofing itself.

The effect of swarf staining itself on Colorbond Steel products is generally aesthetic and may not be detrimental to the performance of the product. On pre-painted surfaces, red oxides of iron are normally inert substances and do not attack the pre-painted finish: the stain is merely absorbed by the pre-painted finish. red oxides of iron are insoluble in water, and the stain will take considerable time to weather away naturally.

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