QLD Building Inspection of The Week

This home in Surfers Paradise QLD was recently inspected by Tony Oswald our Building Inspector based in Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast.  When inspecting homes across coastal areas of Brisbane and more broadly the Sunshine and Gold Coasts we are always on high alert for the impact of corrosion on the building.

One of the most common resolutions or thoughts is that the use of stainless steel can prevent corrosion but that’s not entirely true.  What often occurs is a process commonly referred to as ‘tea staining’.

Tea staining is a brown discolouration that may occur over time, impairing the appearance of stainless steel building elements, most commonly things like balustrades and railing.

When we do a building inspection on a home within about five kilometers of the surf we expect to see tea staining and that it would be more extensive closer to the ocean.  It can also be exacerbated by factors like humidity, temperature and the presence of corrosives on the steel surface.

Aside from ensuring the right grade stainless steel is selected by the builder the only things home owners can do is:

  • Be alert to the presence of sea salt on the surface of stainless steel, if it has that grimy feeling, consider washing it down more often to prevent tea staining occurring. In a location like the Gold Coast, high humidity generates a film of moisture that dissolves the salt deposits and creates a corrosive solution on the surface of the metal.
  • Be alert to problem areas.  Tea Staining or corrosion more generally is more likely to occur where there is poor drainage because the surface is horizontal or if its textured or patterned, preventing free draining.  Look for it in rain sheltered areas (places the rain can’t get to because of the design of the property).  Locations like the underside of sloping roofs, down-pipes under eaves, corners and crevices and around welds or in a building rain shadow, are all areas where tea staining and corrosion will occur first.

Stainless steel is not a set and forget building material if you are in a coastal area.  Tea staining and the impression of corrosion can act to devalue your home.

Maintenance tips for corrosion prevention on stainless steel surfaces in coastal areas:

  1. Regular light washing, especially of lower grade stainless steel.
  2. If a sticky deposit is present, use a solvent and detergent mix
  3. Application of oils and waxes may temporarily restrict chloride access to the stainless steel but they need to be repeated (they may also attract, dirt dust and debris and detract from the appearance of the finish.

A light and regular wash is best and natural rain washing may be sufficient. If not, then consider washing the stainless steel when you wash an adjacent window. Lower grades will require more regular maintenance and if the environment causes sticky deposits, a solvent and detergent mix may be required. Application of oils or waxes will temporarily restrict chloride access to the stainless steel but they need regular renewal. These temporary protectives also tend to attract debris and dull the surface.

Whilst tea staining wasn’t a major issue at this location on the Sunshine Coast, its something we always encourage our clients to tackle with preventative maintenance.

To buy and download a copy of the Building and Pest Inspection Report available now on this home CLICK HERE

When you buy this Building and Pest Inspection Report on line you also get personal phone access to one of our Gold Coast building inspectors (Tony Oswald), who can discuss the building report findings with you in more detail.

Image Source: Image Source: Australian Stainless Steel Development Association



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