What if the Golden Gate Bridge Had Been Hot-Dip Galvanized?
For those of you who are reading my articles for the first time, I will warn you – I am a little bit of a structures nut. I really want to know about how things work and are assembled, and why. Besides being a structures nut, I also am a voracious reader, which means I’ve been gifted numerous books on and about structures over the years.
Among my favorites is David McCullough’s 1983 epic, The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (available at: https://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Bridge-Building-Brooklyn/dp/067145711X). Another favorite (and far shorter reading) is Donald MacDonald’s 2008 Golden Gate Bridge: History and Design of an Icon (also available at: https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Gate-Bridge-History-Design/dp/0811863379).
I’ve walked across both bridges, and biked as well as competitively run across The Golden Gate Bridge, so my familiarity with each is more than just book learning. Living in a world where galvanization is quite common, I had never actually pondered the question, What if the Golden Gate Bridge had been hot-dipped galvanized steel, until reading an article of the same time written by Philip G. Rahrig, Executive Director of the American Galvanizers Association (read it here: https://designandbuildwithmetal.com/featured-articles/2015/02/12/what-if-the-golden-gate-bridge-had-been-hot-dip-galvanized?sthash.DTrYSBHG.mjjo).
I was astounded to learn the savings using time value of money would place the true savings to taxpayers of close to a billion dollars! I read where there is a team of something like 37 painters who work on the Golden Gate repainting it…full-time!
But how does the Golden Gate Bridge relate to pole (post frame) buildings? One of the prime goals of pole building design is to be as close to maintenance free as possible – lending towards the prevalent use of pre-painted galvanized steel or galvalume steel roofing and siding.
As a case study – I have two pole buildings at home, each with 1×8 Cedar Channel siding and steel roofs. The siding has had multiple applications of solid body stain, which equates to lots of time and money spent over the years for maintenance. It tends to look great for a few years, and then over time, begins to show a “need for some TLC”. On the other hand, the pre-painted galvanized steel roofing has never had a cent spent on it since construction (and always looks great) and will continue to perform without repainting until my grandchildren inherit our house