Protecting your aluminum finish during building construction

November 4, 2008

Checklist supplied by Linetec, Wausau, Wis.

  • Upon receipt, aluminum product shipments should be sufficiently inspected to ensure your material is in good condition and is in accordance with the purchase order. 
  • Transfer material directly from truck to storage area to reduce handling and exposure. If future contact with water is possible, outer wrappings or interleaving paper, cardboard, or other such materials should be removed. 
  • Aluminum stored outdoors in an open building should be covered with a clean tarp, especially for parts with temporary protective coverings. Tapes and strippable coatings become difficult to remove after extended exposure to the heat or sunlight. 
  • Materials must not be stored where mortar, lime, acids, chemicals, or other corrosive dust materials can splatter or come in contact with the aluminum in any way. Should this occur, the corrosives must be removed as quickly as possible in a method that will not damage the finish. 
  • Architectural designs often incorporate many different materials, making possible contact between dissimilar materials important to consider. Contact the aluminum product manufacturer with questions regarding compatibility.
  • The major source of damage to in-place aluminum components is splashing, splattering or run-down from adjacent or overhead masonry work. Any mortar, plaster, concrete, fire proofings, sprays, paints, or other wet preparations that inadvertently splash upon the aluminum must be immediately wiped clean before they dry, and the area washed liberally with water. Dried splatterings should be removed with wooden or plastic scrapers that will not scratch the surface. 
  • Chemical attack occurs when acid or alkaline materials come in contact with aluminum finishes, especially anodized finishes, and most commonly occur when mortar or muriatic acid are allowed to dwell on a window or aluminum building component. Once the finish is visually affected, irreversible damage has occurred, and the discolored item may need to be replaced. 
  • If strong cleaners are used to clean brick work and masonry, they should be confined to the area being cleaned. Cleaners strong enough to dissolve mortar spots on brick will surely damage any aluminum finish and possibly the underlying metal. Accidental contact from these solutions should be flushed from the aluminum surface immediately with clean water. 
  • Welding fluxes can cause damage to aluminum during installation, and should be immediately flushed from the surface with water if accidental contact is made. Care should also be taken to ensure heat generated during welding does not affect the finish.
  • When tar roofing is applied, the roofing should be graveled on the same day to minimize staining from run-down. Failure to avoid contact with the aluminum will result in staining that is extremely difficult to remove.