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Explanatory Notes

Current Requirements for the Protection of Steel Items

Built into Masonry in BCA 2009 Clause
BCA Revision Working Group 08/05 /2009

The principal reasons for the code upgrade are to improve installation efficiency,
extend service life and to contain costs. These explanatory notes provide the rationale
for the development of the upgraded requirements in BCA 2009.

Steel items built in to masonry require consideration of the following building and service

Steel items are often located in a sheltered or shielded position within buildings,
where they are subject to long-term exposure to atmospheric contaminants, such
as marine salts, agricultural chemicals or other airborne corrosive influences, but
are excluded from the cleansing effect of rain and the drying influence of sunshine
and open ventilation. Because most airborne contaminants absorb moisture from
the atmosphere down to 65 % RH or lower as contaminants accumulate.

Steel surfaces on which they are deposited, can remain damp for extended
periods, which will significantly increase the scope and rate of corrosive attack. 1

Protective coatings on steel can experience impact damage during delivery and
installation of steel items within the building. This process will have a deleterious
influence on its corrosion resistance and service life.

The scourge of anticorrosive coatings

D J Bartlett 1992

Given the exposure and wear factors, coating quality and thickness are of
paramount importance to achieve intact coating installation and reliable long
service provisions.
It is there fore critical, to assess corrosion levels at a building location and ensure
the use of appropriate coatings.

Built in steel in masonry does not guarantee a steel components isolation from
corrosive influences,

Limited access for inspection also precludes regular maintenance as a means of

extending service life.

Corrosion of steel in composite construction inflicts damage in two ways.

Steel surface degradation by corrosion, leading to pitting and the overall loss of
structural integrity

Masonry cracks, resulting from the increase in steel section thickness, of up to

three (3) times in volume, caused by the formation and expansion of corrosion

Principal Changes of the Corrosion Provisions in the BCA 2009

The upgrade in the corrosion provisions BCA 2009 reflects a revision of the minimum
standard for steel treatment in the previous BCA Steel protection Table to a level
consistent with the following national and international steel corrosion control standards
for engineering purposes.
Major Standard references and recommended further reading.

ISO 9223 corrosion of metals and alloys: Corrosivity of atmospheres--Classification

ISO 14713 Protection against corrosion of iron and steel in structures:-Zinc and

ISO12944-5 Corrosion protection of steel structures by protective paint systems

AS 3700 The Masonry Code

AS/NZS 2699 Part 3 Lintels & Shelf Angles: Durability requirements 2

AS/NZS 2312 Guide to the protection of steel against atmospheric corrosion by the
use of protective coatings

AS 4312 Atmospheric corrosivity zones in Australia

AS 2309 Durability of galvanized and electro-galvanized zinc coatings: Performance

ratings. 3

NZS 4210 Code of practice for masonry construction: -Materials and workmanship.

NZS 4230 Code of practice for the design of masonry structures

This standard was introduced after the Newcastle earthquake of 1998 as a reference document for AS
3700, the Masonry code, adopted by the New Zealand codes NZS 4210,code of practice for masonry
construction materials and workmanship and NZS 4230 code of practice for the design of masonry
This standard provides a performance rating of the many grades of Zinc products now available, where
service life of zinc coatings is proportional to coating thickness.

The above-listed standards, while dealing with differing aspects of steel protection and
specifications, have generally several things in common, namely:1) Protective product specifications to meet the corrosion severity determined.
2) Sound application practice and procedures for steel preparation and the
application of coatings.
3) The means of assessing corrosion levels for specification purposes.
Of the principals incorporated in these Standards, Protective Products and Application
Practice are well understood, however Geographic and Environmentally influenced
corrosion rates, much less so, despite their critical importance to specifications and inservice performance.
Recent Australian /New Zealand standards have made progress in combining the relevant
collective data from all available sources including ISO, CSIRO, BRANZ, State
Government Authorities and the consensus reached by the committee members of the
standards listed above.

AS 4312 is a recommended summary of the sources of data and key corrosion influences
of which the two most important in Australia are time of steel surface wetness and
airborne salt where most of the population live within 50 Kilometres of the coast.

Many factors influence levels of salinity and surface wetness and thus the rate of
corrosion including beach surf conditions, topography, prevailing wind and atmospheric
contaminants as described in this standard
Wind action is a constant feature of many Australian coastal areas, of which the
frequently reported afternoon breeze of Fremantle is typical, however the general effect

of prevailing wind and topography are less well known and their scope and location is
often difficult to map.

Importantly the BCA revision 2009 now provides information, which in general,
conforms to other current standards listed, by providing a practical guide for assessing
corrosion rates at geographical locations.

Specific provisions of the revision in BCA 2009

Classification of the atmospheric corrosivity zones in Australia 4
A description of the severity and location of the 5 corrosion zones of Australia, as
internationally recognised, a major realignment of the 2 zones previously used.
Microclimates (Refer Standards references appendix 1)
Guide to the location of microclimatic conditions within the major corrosion zones.
Coastal salts and local influences such as agricultural chemicals or a wide range of
industrial discharges from airports to sewage farms also add to the difficulty of assessing
service environments, increasing the risk of inadequate protection and premature coating
break down.
Sheltered structural and built in steel items.
Descriptions and ways to recognize the accelerated rate of corrosion of steel, sheltered
from washing by rain, but prone to the accumulation of humidity and corrosive
Protective coating specifications for steel
Provision of appropriate steel preparation practice and protective coating guide lines,
suitable for steel in structures or built in steel in masonry for composite construction.
Monitoring of steel surface preparation, appropriate for the protective coating types
specified in the code.

Classification of atmospheric corrosivity zones of Australian & New Zealand--Categories referred to are
by their adoption from the following sources:Australian /New Zealand Standards, AS/NZS 2312 & AS 4312 based on ISO 9223, ISO 14713:1999 and
ISO 12944-5, generally aligned to the categories of The Masonry Code AS 3700.

Improved capability available during construction and in service:-

Offsite completion of coating

Impact resistance of coating during freight and installation

Reduced site time occupancy

Fewer site inspections

First cost and life cycle savings

Support of warranty undertakings


Coating Specifications, for the Protection of Built in Steel.

To ensure that by the specification and use of the most appropriate protective coatings,
there is no loss of function of the steel items, or adverse effect on the masonry over a
design life of 50 years. 5
Special attention is required for those steel items deemed to be in the most severe
exposure classification where the use of steel protection with a specifically designated
corrosion resistance, is required, e.g. stainless steel.

Corrosive exposure
Assessment of corrosive influences at a building location should include a review of
practical performance evidence, the interacting climate, topography, observance of the 5
corrosions zones, building design and microclimates.

Impact resistance
Protective coatings should have sufficient impact resistance to ensure that during
manufacturing, transit and installation, they remain intact, when subject to normal
handling practice.

Product manufacturers offering statements of compliance should ensure that such assurances are capable
of verification.

Design specification and approval of steel protection systems.

Identification and approval of a sufficiently durable grade of steel item is required for use
in masonry and composite construction in buildings exposed to a wide range of
environmental conditions. 6

George Thomson

*5 Colour coding to identify corrosion protection capability of finished products is included in AS 3700
support standards, which is referenced in the BCA.

Appendix 1
*Microclimates -Specific references:-

ISO14713:1999. Clause 6- Corrosion in different environments

When relative humidity is higher than 60% or where exposed to wet or immersed
conditions or prolonged condensation then steel is subject to more serious corrosion.

AS 2312 Clause 2.2 Microclimates

Significant acceleration of corrosion can occur at locations where metal surfaces remain
damp for an extended period or on unwashed surfaces exposed to atmospheric
contaminants notably coastal salts but protected from cleansing rain.
If such factors are significant, assessing the service as in a more severe category is

AS 4312 Clause 2.3.3 Sheltered exposure

Shelter from rain and regular washing may show a corrosion rate many times greater
than would occur at a rain washed situation. See also Appendix B of the standard

Although the most common, these are not the only microclimatic conditions of Australia
where industry activity or exposure to acidic or alkaline conditions can convert a mildly
corrosive environment to a more aggressive category.


Revision Group Participants

Clay Anderson A I B S
Chairman AIBS Technical Sub-committee (Immediate Past)
Dr Keith Thompson
Metallurgical consultant UNSW Global Pty Ltd
Frank T Budge F &P Consultants
Consultant Quality assurance& Chief metallurgist in industry
Fellow ship diploma - Life membership of American Society for Metals, Ohio
Chair of Standards Australia committees M T 9 metals & ME 29 fastenings and many
technical committees
Fellow of Materials Australia (Institute of Engineers)
Don Bartlet CTI Consultants
Graduate of RMIT ( Fellow Chemistry .Eng .&Associate App. Chemistry )
MIE (Aust) CP Eng & ACA Certified corrosion Technologist
Associate at CTI Consultants where he consult to a wide range of Private & public
clients on Paint technology and corrosion protection
Dr Peter Haberecht PhD MEng BA BEd omieaust Materials & Environment MATENV,
Ex BRANZ, Member of Standards Australia and ISO 156 Atmospheric corrosion &
testing workgroups
George Thomson GTD Consulting & Research
Former Councillor of Standards Australia, General Manager of Dimet group.
Current member of Accreditation board of Standards Development Organisations
Consultant to industry and member of several standards technical committees