Zincalume® vs Galvanised Steel Water Tanks

What is the difference between Zincalume® and Galvanised steel?

If you’re new to the world of steel, or perhaps just visiting to make a steel water tank, metal roofing products, or large steel shed purchase, you will likely have heard the words Zincalume® and Galvanised thrown around with reasonable frequency – perhaps with the word Colorbond® in there every now and then, if you’re looking for particular colours without having to paint sheets to avoid the aluminium colour – and perhaps sometimes heard them used interchangeably, which can be very confusing.

While many people use the word galvanised to refer to Zincalume®, there are some key differences that you will want to keep in mind before purchasing a product marketed as Galvanised simply because it is cheaper than the one you have seen marketed as Zincalume®.  Neither require much maintenance, and both use barrier protection to improve their durability.

Both are thermally efficient roofing materials, helping with energy efficiency by reflecting high levels of sun exposure away from the home, and keeping areas that the roof shades cooler than traditional corrugated iron sheets do.

While similar in appearance and application, the surface coating of the two products are different enough to result in different performance when it comes to corrosion resistance, durability and lifespan. This article hopes to give property owners enough information as to the benefits, pros and cons of these products that you can make an informed choice for your house or farm.

A galvanised steel sheet – much like Zincalume® – is a Zinc plated roof sheeting or corrugated sheet metal, which protects the sheeting against oxidisation and moisture which can cause rusting of the underlying metal.

Rust corrodes steel, eating away at the strength and integrity of the metal, and creating structural issues in whatever the metal was being used to build.

Galvanisation is the act of taking a regular steel – usually iron – and adding a coating to the metal, which increases the versatility and corrosion protection of the metal. A common form of this is hot-dip galvanisation, which provides a strong, thick coating to large metal parts, protecting them from the elements, including oxygen, water, salt and dirt.

While galvanisation protects against the elements, keeping rust and corrosion at bay, it will eventually wear away, exposing the metal to water and oxidisation – particularly in coastal environments.

photos of kangaroos in front of a 500000 litre water tank from pioneer water tanks

Zincalume® steel gets its name from the Zinc and Aluminium that makes up most of the structure of its layer of corrosion protective coating, which also includes silicon and magnesium. 

Zincalume was developed in 1976, and has been refined over the years to meet climate challenges and needs of Australian customers, with the latest major update in 2013 with the introduction of Activate® technology resulting in longer lasting protection.

Is Zincalume® Galvanised?

While both products being zinc-coated steel may sound like Zincalume® is galvanised,  the key difference is that galvanised steel is coated with close to 100% zinc, while Zincalume® gets its advanced protection from the alloy of materials used to make up its coating.

Research has shown that Zincalume® lasts up to twice as long as Galvanised sheets when used in roofing sheets, and similar results are expected when it comes to tank roofs, which poses a significant advantage to Zincalume® products.

Galvanised vs Zincalume® Steel for Water Storage

When it comes to water storage solutions, Zincalume has proven to be far better than traditional Galvanised steel or corrugated iron, with the tanks nearly guaranteed to come into contact with water at some point, even if they are a steel liner tank.

In all conditions except coastal – where Colorbond® water tanks (or Colorbond® Ultra) are going to be needed for salt protection – Zincalume® is going to be the best value option, not just for water storage but also for roof sheets, sheds or other Zincalume products®

While Galvanised steel does provide corrosion protection above and beyond a non-galvanised product, it better serves thicker steel products that can be protected through hot-dipping – much like the ladders and roof hatches of a Pioneer Water Tank.

Is Zincalume® Compatible with Galvanised Steel?

Despite their differences, Zincalume® and Galvanised Steel can still be used together.  The disadvantages of Galvanised metal sheets are offset by the advantages it provides when it comes to choosing the right finish for thick and odd shaped metal parts and components.

Applications of this compatibility can be seen in the designs of Pioneer tanks. While the tank walls are made from Zincalume® or Colorbond® steel sheets, rolled in the Pioneer V-Lock® pattern for additional strength, the access ladder and hatch are made from Galvanised iron, as this is the best protection available for thick metals that aren’t able to be rolled or forms from coils of Zincalume® or Colorbond® steel.

Have more questions about Zincalume® and Galvanised Iron? No worries!

If you have any more questions about Zincalume water tanks, get in touch with Pioneer Water Tanks today by calling us on 1800 999 599 or filling out our contact form with your name, area and any other comment you think may be helpful, and one of our team of expert dealers will be in touch with you shortly.

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