When restoring, renovating, or remodeling your pontoon boat, youï¿½ll face a number of large decisions. However, youï¿½ll also have some seemingly small decisions, such as what kind of marine fasteners (screws, nuts, bolts, and washers) to install in your craft. Although you can purchase zinc alloy marine fasteners, stainless steel fasteners, like the ones featured on our online store are unquestionably a better choice for a number of reasons.
What is stainless steel? Itï¿½s a little known fact that stainless steel is not a single material, but is a descriptive label for a number of steel alloys that contain a percentage (usually 12%) of chromium. Other materials are found in stainless steel, such as nickel, iron, manganese, silicon, phosphorous, copper, molybdenum, titanium, columbium, and tantalum, but chromium provides stainless steel with its unique and desirable properties. Oxygen in the air reacts with the chromium in the stainless steel causing it to produce a thin layer of oxide film on the surface of the steel, effectively sealing it from corrosion. Even if the surface of the stainless steel is scratched, cut, or the oxide layer is otherwise removed, the chromium contained throughout the metal will re-form another protective layer across the exposed surface. This means that stainless steel hardware is uniquely self-protecting and self-coating, unlike painted aluminum or zinc alloy marine fasteners. A manufacturing process called passivation removes additional iron particles from the surface and facilitates the self-coating oxidation process of stainless steel. Consequently, stainless steel fasteners, such as the ones in our online store are virtually maintenance-free and will never need paint or other sealants to protect it from harsh marine elements.
Stainless steel has been used for a variety of marine applications. Varying grades of stainless steel have been used for materials in coastal environments, splash zones, and for extended submersion in seawater. These alloys have been custom manufactured for use in brackish waters where the chlorine content is low.
Mariners use stainless steel hardware on many portions of their pontoon boats. Such applications include deck eyes, anchor rope brackets, shackles, handrails, propellers, and other hardware accessories. Many pontoon boat owners wisely choose stainless steel fasteners for their pontoon boat hardware.
Relatively speaking, stainless steel marine fasteners are very affordable compared to zinc alloy fasteners. Stainless steel items are easy to fabricate and its cost is relatively competitive with zinc alloy materials. Financially speaking, there is no compelling reason to choose zinc alloy fasteners over stainless steel hardware for your pontoon boat. Although stainless steel is a bit more expensive than other materialsï¿½such as painted aluminum or other materials used in marine environmentsï¿½stainless steel materials have a number of specific advantages not offered by other metals and alloys.
The unique properties of stainless steel insure that the material has a much longer lifespan than zinc alloy fasteners. Zinc alloys have a tendency to oxidize. Unlike stainless steel fasteners, the oxidization process in zinc alloy produces an ugly white residue that is an indicator of corrosion. Proximity to saltwater or sulfur dioxide in areas of environmental distress accelerates this corrosion process in zinc alloys. Stainless steel fasteners, however, have none of these drawbacks and are highly resistant to corrosion, saltwater, sulfur dioxide, and other harsh marine environments.
Because of its resistance to corrosion and ability to perform under demanding conditions, stainless steel fasteners offer an extended life span. Even though other marine materials might initially be cheaper, itï¿½s a certainty that theyï¿½ll wear out and need replacement long before stainless steel hardware. Indeed, stainless steel is one of the least expensive hardware purchases for your pontoon boat if the cost is factored over an extended period of time.
Stainless steel marine fasteners are easy to maintain and preserve an overall pleasing appearance. Because of its notable resistance to corrosion, stainless steel lives up to its name and will not develop stains due to oxidation like zinc alloys and other metal alloys. Stainless steel materials have surfaces that are easy to clean. For example, the stainless steel used in the dome of the Chrysler building in New York City has only been cleaned twice in the past 77 years and is still in service to this day. The only other metal used in marine conditions that is as durable, corrosive-resistant, and requires little maintenance is titanium, but this metal is prohibitively expensive for most pontoon boat owners.
Finally, stainless steel is environmentally friendly and has no health drawbacks. Stainless steel alloys are primarily manufactured from recycled scrap metal. The stainless steel industry is largely dependent on recycling and over 90% of manufactured stainless steel comes from recycling. Its composite elements of chromium, nickel, and molybdenum are easily recovered and reused for further manufacturing runs. Other materials used in the manufacturing of stainless steel, such as oils, ï¿½cakingï¿½ pickling acids, and cooling waters are also recycled by outside contractors, ensuring that there is virtually zero waste produced in the stainless steel manufacturing process. All of these recovery processes save energy and reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Finally, there is no evidence that exposure to stainless steel has any adverse effects on human health, while the same cannot be said of other metal alloys.
There is only one caveat when dealing with stainless steel: you must make sure you avoid using ordinary steel tools to cut or alter the stainless steel. Although it is corrosion-resistant, stainless steel can rust if the cutting tools leave plain (non-stainless) steel particles on its surface. If this occurs, the particles turn to rust and can lead to pitting corrosion or other damage to the stainless steel. To avoid this regrettable state of affairs, be certain that you only use stainless steel tools when working with your stainless steel fasteners.
Stainless steel fasteners are the clear choice for restoring, renovating, or remodeling your pontoon boat. Although there are other marine materials available for your hardware, they all have a variety of serious drawbacks, while stainless steel is strong, durable, corrosion-resistant, affordable, virtually maintenance-free, and aesthetically pleasing.