Do Barndominiums Rust? (Everything You Need To Know)

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Featured image: Bryan.ray.holub / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The demand for metal frame buildings like barndominiums is on the rise. 

But as these affordable buildings become more popular, it becomes more important for you to understand the potential risks associated with this type of building. For example, do metal barndos rust? And, if so, can you protect them from rust? 

The short answer is, yes, barndominiums can rust. The long answer is that if properly cared for, your barndominium shouldn’t rust until the end of its lifespan. However, the actual results will depend on your environment, care, and the metal you choose. 

Here’s how rust can form and steps you can take to avoid the problem.

How Does Rust Form?

Rust is iron oxide that forms on iron and its alloys when those alloys are exposed to air and water. In fact, rust is a mix of oxygen and iron, and it needs moisture or water to form. 

This means that at any point where open iron or its alloys (steel) is exposed to water for a prolonged period, iron oxide will form. 

This corrosion weakens the metal. In most cases, you’ll normally see a patina of rust on the surface of the metal. Over time, it can corrode pockmarks and bite into the rust. 

Left alone for longer, it will corrode joints and even weaken the metal. Over time, that can result in a building that will collapse or which isn’t strong enough to stand up to wind or more damage. 


Do Barndos Rust?

Barndominiums can rust. However, most are sold with protective coatings. 

This means that your brand-new barndominium is highly unlikely to start rusting. 

Paint

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Most metal frame buildings come with a layer or coating of paint. That’s true whether it’s clear-coat or colored paint. However, you can always check this from the supplier. 

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Is the steel painted? While it’s true that you can save money by opting for an unpainted barndominium, you’d want to remedy that by painting the building as quickly as possible to prevent rust. 

In addition, many prefabricated metal buildings are fabricated pre-painted, which means you may be unable to buy an unpainted barndominium. 

Galvanized Steel

Galvanization is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to the top of an iron alloy like steel. This coating prevents rusting because it prevents water from making contact with the steel. 

If you purchase a galvanized steel barndominium, you won’t have to paint it. However, galvanized steel is expensive. 

This means that normally only the outer paneling of the barndominium will be galvanized. Therefore, you’ll still have to handle maintenance for the interior of the building. 

If you have raw steel, it will always rust. 


4 Barndominium Rust Protection Methods

Protecting a barndominium from rust normally means practicing regular preventive maintenance. 

1. Maintain the Paint

If your barndominium is painted, make sure the paint stays in good condition. Scrapes, chips, cracks, and peeling paint can let in moisture. That moisture can turn into rust. 

More importantly, peeling or chipped paint can actually trap moisture against the metal, so it’s more likely to rust. It’s usually a good idea to inspect the paint in the fall and in the spring and touch it up or replace the paint if things are getting bad. 

How long does paint last on a metal building? That depends on the building. 

In addition, many barndominium manufacturers guarantee the paint for 25 years. This means it’s likely a good idea to check the manufacturer’s website and guarantee before investing in paint yourself. 

You may be able to have the work done for free – and have any rust resulting from faulty paint repaired for free as well. 

Of course, that won’t be the case if you have something like collision or scraping damage or if paint damage is obviously caused by something like a fire rather than the elements. Most paint guarantees cover normal wear and tear from sun and wind. 

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Excessive salt damage due to local conditions may also not be included unless the contract specifically covers your area. 

2. Manage Isolation

Large temperature differences between the inside and outside of the building can cause condensation to build up on the inside of the building. If you haven’t painted the inside of the metal, that can mean your building rusts from the inside. 

If you’re heating the inside of the barndominium, make sure you use good insulation to isolate the metal, so it heats more slowly on the inside and doesn’t condensate. 

That can require more investment upfront. However, it will reduce your long-term energy bills and will reduce damage to your barndominium. 

3. Keep Water from Pooling

Choose a roof that drains water and make sure the gutters stay clean. 

Water pooling on surfaces on your barndominium can eventually result in water working its way between the cracks and any screws or rivets, which can cause them to rust. When that happens, you’ll likely have to replace the panel to prevent damage. 

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent this is to keep water from pooling up on the roof. For example, if you have a flat roof and it keeps gathering water, adding gutters or installing a new roof may be the best way to go. 

4. Replace Rusted Panels

If part of your barndominium starts to rust, it’s important to replace that panel. 

Iron oxide will continue to expand in size, meaning that if it’s left in place, it will corrode more and more of your building. A tiny speck of rust can grow over time – meaning you’ll lose building strength. 

The best option is always to use a rust remover or to sand or grind away any visible rust, treat the metal, and then paint over it. This will prevent damage from worsening. 

Of course, if the damage is already bad, you’ll want to replace the panel or the pole. 

Luckily, most barndominiums are modular, which means that even if the damaged piece is a support pillar, you can replace just that piece. That makes repairs to a barndominium a lot cheaper than to many other types of buildings. 

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However, you’ll still have to ensure you get the right parts. 


How To Remove Rust From Your Barndominium

Removing rust from a barndominium is as simple as removing rust anywhere else. 

You can use a chemical rust remover, use friction, and then clean and repaint the area. 

Keep Your Barndominium Clean

It’s important to clean your barndominium as a first step. Here, a sandblaster is the best option. 

However, a high-pressure cleaner is also a good call. It might sound counterproductive but high-pressure water will remove dirt and loose paint that might trap water against the metal. It will also remove any loose buildup of rust. 

Use a Rust Remover

Spray or patch apply chemical rust remover to light patches of rust. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging.

This is easy with small patches. However, it’s often extremely difficult with large panels. 

Sand Away Rust

You can use sandpaper and a wire brush to sand and get off most rust. 

However, this can be extremely time-consuming if a large portion of your building is rusted. 

Use an Angle Grinder

Angle grinders are a great call for removing dense and pocked rust. 

However, you don’t want to remove too much metal, as it will also weaken the building. 

Repaint 

After removing old rust, re-apply a protective coat. This should include a rust-preventing primer and a protective top layer. 

If you still have a warranty on your paint, make sure you talk to the original supplier first. 


Next Steps

Bardominiums can rust. However, with proper care, they shouldn’t.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with a lot of high-pressure wind, a lot of salt or acid in the air, or wind gusts that pick up and or other abrasive materials, you might have to repaint more often than you’d expect.

Often, this work is covered under warranty, so you won’t spend much on maintenance, provided you have that guarantee. Once your building starts to rust, you can easily revert damage by sanding off the rust and reapplying a protective coating.

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