If you’ve installed cable railing near the coast or next to a pool, you might have noticed some unsightly white deposits staining the posts or rail and wondered what it was.
The answer: galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion is not unique to one manufacturer or one type of railing. It is a natural process that occurs when two metals come into contact in the presence of a electrolyte—like water. Saltwater especially speeds the corrosion that can take place when the stainless steel cable comes into contact with the aluminum railing. The result: that white staining running down the posts.
What to Do About White Corrosion on Railing
First, prevention. At Key-Link we recommend a regular cleaning procedure using a product like Boeshield’s T-9 on the cable and stainless steel fittings. Using these cleaning materials will help mitigate the corrosion.
Another part of prevention is making sure your posts and railing are well protected. Key-Link is not ignoring the problem of galvanic corrosion and has recently unveiled an upgrade package for any railing within a mile of saltwater (or for any railing that needs extra protection). Unfortunately this is not a retrofit package, but it is important for any new railing being installed near the coast.
This upgrade to prevent corrosion includes a thick layer of epoxy primer over the entire post and rail (inside the posts, too) followed by AAMA 2605 standard powder coating. The combination of these two protective layers helps to keep the stainless steel and the aluminum ions from touching and corroding.
How to Clean White Corrosion Off Railing
If your railing is already stained, the best thing to do is use a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer along with a rag to scrub the deposits off. Some will wipe right off, others may require more effort, but the corrosion can be cleaned. Unfortunately the problem will return because of the corrosive nature of water and metal together, so a regular cleaning schedule should be maintained.
While prevention is the best way to keep corrosion off your railing (and thus prevent having to clean it a as often), galvanic corrosion can be removed. If you are thinking about cable railing on the coast, Key-Link highly recommends an upgraded protection package to keep your railing looking new.