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RE: Structural Steel Protection Below Grade

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These are good suggestions because they provide detailing that encourages the shedding of corrosive agents away from the steel. Steel will last forever if protected from corrosion by good details and a maintained barrier system (Othmar Ammann said something of this sort when proclaiming the permanence of his George Washington Bridge). Bad details, however, will promote the failure of the barrier system and encourage corrosion no matter how well it is maintained.
The curb detailed with a slope to shed water away and a high-performance barrier system on the steel with a high-performance sealant at the location where the steel enters the concrete will do wonders. You may want to contact SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings to discuss the best options for the barrier system. Their web site is


From: Robert Freeman [mailto:robert.freeman(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sat 6/26/2004 12:11 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Structural Steel Protection Below Grade

This is a challenging one.
Two thoughts:
    1.  I recommend that outdoor steel posts always have a 6" high concrete curb above the surrounding surface encasing the base of the posts.  With concrete flush with the surface (Code compliant), rust accumulates at a very fast pace at the top of a flush concrete surface around a steel column.
    2.  You have the choice of recommendations for a 'repair'.  One might be an epoxy coating on the steel column from the finished surface up 6".  I would not recommend a paint or galvaizing repair.  Another might be to dowel-in a concrete curb over a coating of epoxy bonder to bring the top of concrete up.
With Joy and Hope,
Integrated Design Services, Inc.
Bob Freeman, Architect
Structural Designer
(714) 368-5080