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A Complete Guide To Blackened Steel. Plus How To Blacken Steel.
Lauren Risotto

By: Lauren Risotto on March 10th, 2020

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A Complete Guide To Blackened Steel. Plus How To Blacken Steel.

Metal | How to | Education

Striking and sophisticated, the use of blackened steel can dramatically change the appearance of any space. It’s unique aesthetic that’s both industrial and chic makes it easy to see why it’s being more commonly used in contemporary architecture for both residential and commercial designs.

This finish is certainly not “one size fits all”. The end result could be within a wide range of colors, as “blackening” does not necessarily mean just black. Aside from personal preference, the outcome can also depend on which method you use.

We will go over the different ways to blacken steel so you can decide which method is right for you.

 

In this article, we will cover:

● What is blackened steel?

● How to blacken steel.

Painted products that look like blackened steel.

● Companies that will blacken the steel for you.

● The pros and cons associated with blackened steel.

● Why you should be including it in your architectural design.

 

What Is Blackened Steel?

Blackened steel is simply when metal goes through a process to give it a darker finish than its original color.

There are multiple methods that can be used to achieve a blackened aesthetic, such as using hot chemicals or oil. The results from these different blackening methods can vary depending on which process is used. The color outcome can range anywhere from a lighter gray to a very deep black.

It’s important to remember that blackened steel never stops rusting. If you would like to prevent rust, the material should be sealed after it has been blackened.

 

Preparing To Blacken Steel 

Regardless of which method you choose to blacken steel, all the methods require some preparation before you get started.

Before you begin the blackening process, the metal must be cleaned and pretreated to prepare it. Surfaces that are not prepared properly prior to being blackened can result in undesirable finishes.

Alkaline detergents will remove oil, grease, and rust from the surface. Solvents, such as acetone and denatured alcohol, are also great at removing contaminants. Keeping clean water for rinsing that is not contaminated from prior rinsing is also crucial.

Some surfaces that have more severe rusting may need blast cleaning, acid pickling (muriatic acid), use of a wire brush, or chemical stripping to be totally prepped. These measures are used to remove more difficult residue from steel.

 

Blacken Steel Finish Processes

1. Hot Blackening

2. Cold Blackening

3. Wax and/ or Oil

4. Mid-Temperature Blackening

5. Painted Products

 

Hot Blackening

A hot bath (286°F) of sodium hydroxide, nitrates, and nitrites convert the metal surface into magnetite.

Cold Blackening

Cold blackening is when a copper selenium compound applied at room temperature.

Wax And Oil

Steel is heated to 400°F, then covered in a mixture of beeswax and linseed oil, then the metal is reheated to set. This process is sometimes done with oil only.

Mid-Temperature Blackening

This process is similar to hot blackening, but done at a slightly cooler temperature (220-245 °F).

Painted Products

Metal wall panels or sheets are painted to look like a real blackened steel. The steel arrives with a painted black oxide finish, as opposed to going through a chemical process.

 

Safety When Blackening Steel

Muriatic acid and other chemicals you may encounter while blackening steel will give off heavy fumes and can cause severe eye and skin damage if they come in contact with you. Please use extreme caution and wear appropriate safety equipment when dealing with these materials.

The Pros and Cons Of Blackening Steel Methods


Painted Products That Look Like Blackened Steel

Pros Cons
  • Arrives As A Finished Product
  • You Will Not Need Hazardous Chemicals.
  • Paint Warranty
  • No Labor To Blacken Steel
  • Does NOT need to be sealed.
  • 24 Gauge Only
  • May Not Look As Authentic As Chemically Blackened Steel

 

 

Hot Blackening

Pros Cons
  • Available In Multiple Gauges
  • Authentic Looking
  • Rubs Off Easily
  • Toxic Chemicals
  • Potentially Hazardous
  • Time/ Labor Required

 

Cold Blackening

Pros Cons
  • Available In Multiple Gauges
  • Safer than Hot Blackening
  • Toxic Chemicals
  • Potentially Hazardous
  • Time/ Labor Required

 

 

Wax/Oil

Pros Cons
  • Available In Multiple Gauges
  • Can Be Done With Household Items
  • Might Have Streaky Appearance
  • Maintenance Required To Upkeep Appearance
  • Time/ Labor Required

 


Blackened Steel Alternatives (Easier and More Affordable)

If you would like to get the look of blackened steel while avoiding doing any labor or using chemicals, then painted panels are likely the best choice for you.

The Blackened Steel Series® are painted panels that look like a black oxide patina. The steel is painted repeatedly to give the finish depth. This material has a standard paint warranty and arrives looking weathered.

These products will also save you some serious cash, take a look at the average costs:

  • Flats sheets or coils will cost $2.00 to $2.50/Sq. Ft
  • Metal wall panels or metal roofing will cost $2.50 to $3.50/Sq. Ft.
speckled-blackened-rust-large

While it’s a great alternative that will solve the problems associated with blackening steel yourself, it might not be right for your project if you need a heavy gauge steel.

The Panels Are Available As:

 

Where To Buy Blackened Steel

While we do not sell blackened steel (we sell painted panel products that look blackened), we know that some of you will want authentic blackened steel for your next project. If you are looking for a reputable company to assist you, here are a few we know and trust:

 

Why Should I Use Blackened Steel In My Design?

Blackened steel is being more commonly used in interior and exterior design, as the bold hues coupled with the smooth steel create intense contrasts against other finishes that make a design really stand out.

Once used solely in industrial settings, designers are now looking to this edgy finish to incorporate into interior projects such as retail stores, restaurants, and corporate offices.

Even residential homes, from kitchens to bedrooms, have started to incorporate blackened steel.

 

Save Time And Money. Use A Painted Product That Looks Like Blackened Steel.

Blackened tones are expanding the possibilities of metal designs. Designers and homeowners are turning to this look to add drama and sophistication to architecture.

While authentic blackened steel is a unique finish that adds character, the labor involved might not make it a practical option for everyone. In that case, metal panels that look like blackened steel might be the right solution. They are available in flat sheets, coil, metal roofing, and metal wall panels.

At Western States Metal Roofing, we want you to help you make the best decision. Check out our Blackened Steel Series® of painted panels to see which blackened steel color would be the best fit for your project.

 

Request a Free Color Sample

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About Lauren Risotto

Lauren is the Content Manager at Western States Metal Roofing and provides insight on content creation and product promotions.