How to Clean Aluminum Siding

With spring just around the corner and the weather looking up for parts of the country, it is time to think about cleaning up the outside of your house, office building, trailer, or wherever it is that is constructed of aluminum siding.

I recently took to cleaning the outside of my house which has painted-white aluminum siding and have found a few methods that worked wonders on clearing the hard water, grime, rust stains, etc.

Prepping the home to clean aluminum siding:

First you need to prep the area around where you plan to clean. Make sure windows are all closed, any rugs, furniture, décor, etc., are moved out of the way, and any delicate plants are covered or, if in a pot, moved to a safer location for the time being.

You’ll also want to make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. It is a very dirty job, trust me on this one.

Method 1: Power Washer

While I was doing research on the best methods to clean aluminum siding, use of a power washer seemed to be a common method.

When using a power washer, which you can typically rent or purchase from a local hardware store, be sure to use it on a lower setting to ensure you don’t dent or damage the siding.

The power washer, I found, is a great first step, but not necessarily the best way to remove rust stains. It got rid of the dirt and some of the hard water stains, but I still had to do more manual labor to remove the orange rust that was the real eye sore on my white siding.

Method 2: Detergent and Water Solution

This method removed a majority of the orange rust and all of the hard water stains.

What you will need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Warm water
  • Porous sponge or soft bristled brush (you can also use a push broom for hard to reach areas)
  • Old rags
  • Bucket (I just used a small 2 gallon bucket as it is all I have)
  • Hose

Cleaning process:

  1. Fill bucket with warm water and ¼ cup of laundry detergent.
  2. Start at the top and work your way down the siding. I did it in about five-foot sections. You might find that you just need the soft side of a sponge for the top half of the siding, but then need the porous side or bristle brush the more you work your way down.
  3. Work in a circular motion to ensure you get into the groves. This also varies the motion on the siding which will help to ensure you don’t start removing the paint. Going side to side along the grain may cause the paint to wear.
  4. After you have finished the section you have two options. 1) You can either move on to the next section if you were able to remove all the grime, or 2) you can go over what you just scrubbed with a rag and clean water to wipe the excess off.
  5. Once you have finished a whole side you can rinse the detergent and water solution off with a hose or power washer (on a low setting).

After doing this method, my house was almost sparkly white (I also have found that using some sort of tile cleaner with warm water works as well). However, I had a few stubborn areas I just couldn’t scrub off. So… on to method three.

Method 3: Paint

If both the above methods still don’t clean the siding, just repaint the siding. If you plan to do any painting be sure to get paint meant for outdoor and metal material use. Your local hardware store paint specialist should be able to point you in the right direction and give you instructions on how to prep, paint, and set it.

Have any other methods to clean aluminum siding? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We would love to hear about other tried and true techniques.

February ONI Insight: Market Indicators

U.S. employers added 205,000 jobs in January led by services and construction. However, manufacturers, still suffering due to the strong U.S. dollar, did not add any jobs last month. Unemployment for the nation is at a seven-year-low of 4.9%.

Consumer confidence slipped in January. American consumers likely lost some confidence after the stock market dropped last month according to the University of Michigan. However, on January 26, the Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose to 98.1 in January from the 96.3 reading in December. Economists conclude this is likely due to the strong job market and lower gasoline prices.

The global steel industry is expected to grow this year despite waning Chinese demand and low metal prices. World production of crude steel should increase by 0.15% in 2016, according to a Financial Times survey. A number of anti-dumping trade cases are under way (check out our latest Steel Supply Chain blog post for more information on these trade cases), targeting countries like China and Russia, that could boost domestic steelmakers by blocking some imports.

The architectural billings index (ABI) score was 50.9 in December. This is up from the mark of 49.3 in the previous month. The score reflects a slight increase in design services; any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The Purchasing Managers Index® (PMI) registered at 48.2% in January, an increase of 0.2% point from the December reading of 48%. The New Orders Index was at 51.5%, up 2.7% points from the December reading of 48.8%.

U.S. raw steel output totaled 1,685,000 net tons week ending February 6. This is up 1.7% from the previous week’s reading. Mills also operated at an average capacity utilization rate of 71.9%. Mills have operated at an average capacity utilization rate of 68% so far this year.

For more information contact your local sales representative. Remember to check back each month for the latest Metals Market posts.

ONI-Insight-February-2016

Can You Weld Steel and Aluminum Together?

The answer to whether you can weld steel and aluminum together is yes and no. OK, I’m sure you are even more confused now than you were before, but bear with me.

Let’s start with some chemistry, shall we? Aluminum and steel have different metallurgy and melting temperatures. Carbon steel, made up of iron and carbon, melts around 2500 degrees Fahrenheit while aluminum melts at 1218 degrees Fahrenheit. Through the process of arc welding, aluminum would be in a liquefied state by the time the steel begins to melt. Arc welding the two metals together would also create a brittle compound and would not create a strong fusion.

Now it may sound like there is no hope for welding them together. Oh, but there is. It is just a little more complicated.

Solid-State Welding

Solid-state welding is a process in which coalescence takes place at temperatures below the melting point of the two metals being welded together. Through solid-state welding, a filler metal, or brazing, is not necessary.

Here are some examples:

Diffusion Welding

Diffusion welding is a solid-state welding process that produces coalescence of the two metals by the application of pressure and elevated temperatures. This process works well for welding together dissimilar metals like aluminum and steel.

The process includes the two metals being pressed together at an elevated temperature, usually between 50-70% of the melting point and the process of diffusion occurs.

Explosion Welding

Another example of a solid-state welding process includes explosion welding. The process of explosion welding includes controlled detonations to fuse one metal surface to another. This process can join a wide variety of compatible and non-compatible metals together – more than other forms of welding. This makes it the ideal way to weld dissimilar metals together.

So, welding aluminum and steel together can be done. You just need to use a more complex method. There are other welding processes that could weld steel and aluminum together, but the aforementioned are two of the more common.

For more information about the aluminum and steel products we process contact your local sales representative. For more steel industry posts stay tuned to the Beyond Metal Buzz.