Yearly Archives: 2017

CORTEN steel and the Curious Case of the Fretwork Gate

Why Corten Steel? It seemed straightforward enough. All Metal Solutions (AMS) had been hired by property developer Dwyer Construction to supply certain steel elements in a prestigious housing development in St John’s Wood, London. The brief included railings, the entrance gate and a stand-alone planter, providing advice on suitable metals to make them and, oh yes, a weathered finish.

To meet the project architect’s request for the right finish, AMS recommended a specialist steel called Corten Steel. It contains chemicals that produce more resistance to atmospheric corrosion than other steels; over several years Corten steel reacts with the weather to produce a protective surface. But in this case, the architect did not wish to wait for the ‘weathered’ effect; he aimed to install it as a finished design feature from the start and in a specific colour and patina.

Search for a new look

Such a look had not been produced by AMS before – not only had the company to find new ways of handling and machining the steel but it also had to create a surface colour and a finish to order.

What made the task more complex was uncertainty about the physical properties of the box-section steel once it had been machined – a key factor in constructing the 2m high gate system. The design required the number ’10’ (part of the development’s postal address) and surrounding decorative steel fretwork be cut out of the gate’s central panels.

AMS opted to laser-cut the fretwork. It produced a prototype of the panel only to find its structural strength had been significantly weakened and would not make the gate secure or vandal-proof.

Going for that ‘weathered’ look with Corten Steel

corten steel weathered lookAdd to that the challenge of achieving the colour and ‘weathered’ look of the design, and AMS had to return to the drawing board. Umpteen prototypes later, as expected, it found that the panels with more material removed were structurally weaker. Despite this, the architect required a more open style and said no to ‘thicker’ fretwork panels.

How about mounting the fretwork on an aluminium backing sheet?” Piped up the research team. That  way, they argued, the gate could strengthened structurally but still incorporate the ‘lighter’ fretwork design.

Steel fretwork that had to adhere

Again, there was a snag: finding an adhesive strong enough to fix the thin and small areas of steel fretwork to the aluminium sheet without ‘bubbling’ and consequent weak adhesion. After several trials, they found a two-part epoxy adhesive to do the job.

AMS’s challenges were still not over. Creating the desired weathering effect was new territory and it took repeated experimentation before they hit on the idea of ‘pickling’ the steel in a corrosive bath of acetic acid and sodium chloride.

corten steel fretworkAgain, after considerable testing, the right combination of chemicals producing the desired colour was discovered. It ticked all the boxes: safe to use, thoroughly tested, did not damage the steel and produced a rust-like finish – just what the client ordered.

All Metal Solutions Limited (AMS) is an established and well-recognised fabrication business covering Hertfordshire and London for both new build and building maintenance. Based in Welwyn Garden City, AMS offers a highly skilled steel fabrication and site installation service for a wide range of products ranging from structural steelworks to architectural metalwork.

For more information or to arrange an initial consultation, please call: +44 (0) 1707 881177, or contact us via this link >>>


Stainless Steel and its Uses in Construction

What is Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an alloy of Iron with a minimum of 10.5% Chromium. 

Chromium produces a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the steel known as the ‘passive layer’. This prevents any further corrosion of the surface. Increasing the amount of Chromium gives an increased resistance to corrosion.

It also contains varying amounts of Carbon, Silicon and Manganese. Other elements such as Nickel and Molybdenum may be added to add other properties such as increased flexibility and corrosion resistance.


inventor of stainless steel
Harry Brealey

While Harry Brearley is given credit, by most, for the invention, French scientist Leon Gillet had documented its constitution in 1904. Gillet noted the composition and properties of his alloy mix, but he didn’t recognise the corrosive resistance of the material. 

In 1911 the German, Philip Monnartz, published the first detailed work on the corrosion resistance of stainless steel.  In 1912 at the Krupp Iron Works, Eduard Maurer and Benno Strauss, patented the first 21% chromium and 7% nickel combination for stainless. 

However, it was Brearley who patented the first martensitic stainless in 1913. While Brearley is generally given credit for the invention of modern stainless steel, this is disputable.Brearley immediately set out to market his invention. He called his metal “rustless steel”.

Sheffield, known as a city of cutlery manufacturers, seemed to be a perfect replacement for silver or nickel-plated steel. One manufacturer, Ernest Stuart, when testing the material in vinegar suggested a more marketable name of “stainless steel”.

stainless steel cutleryBy 1914, George Ibberson & Co, using this product manufactured by Thomas Firth & Sons, began producing knives. The product was not an immediate success, and Brealey soon earned the reputation of being the inventor of the “knife that would not cut”.

Brearley left Firth, over an ownership dispute of the invention, and W. H. Hatfield took over. In 1924, Hatfield patented the 18-8 version – 18% chromium and 8% nickel. This would soon become the most popular and widely used type of the steel. Adding titanium to the 18-8, Hatfield is also credited with the invention of 321 stainless. Uses in


Stainless steel in the construction industry is mainly used for the following products:

  • Cladding
  • Handrails and balustrading
  • Roofing
  • Drainage and rainwater products
  • Wall support products
  • Designed structural applications

The characteristics, notably its corrosion resistance, aesthetic appearance and mechanical properties, makes it ideally suited for many architectural applications. Optimum performance is achieved by considering these characteristics when designing in stainless.

What are our most Frequently Asked Questions?

Three areas spring to us:

1. What’s the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel?

Well outwardly they look similar. The formulaic difference is that 304 contains 8% nickel whilst 316 has 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum. To the layman this means that 304 is used in kitchen applications – flatware, pots and pans. 316 is best used in water based products like swimming pools.

2. How do I clean stainless steel?

We sell a specific cleaner that removes bacteria form the grain in the surface , which most people think is the start of rust as it goes dark brown and can be hard to remove once it gets established. 

3. What are the most common finishes!

  • Polished – looks like mirror
  • Brushed Finish – had a textured brush, dull finish (this is the most common as it hides scratches, finger marks etc. the
  • 2B – this is the best finish , in our opinion, where the surface has had no treatment  and is left in raw finish and looks Matt

If you are considering using stainless steel in your construction project then contact All Metal Solutions  for help in making that decision and a quote for your requirements then just follow this link >>> 


How DIY SOS was helped by All Metal Solutions

All Metal Solutions 4In June, this year All Metal Solutions were featured on the BBC’s DIY SOS programme. The programme went out showing that we had supplied and fitted a range of steel products for the extension of a local property including:

  • handrails for the steps to the garden
  • a bench
  • 3 shelf units
  • table legs for the dining room table
  • steel butterfly

All Metal Solutions 2The handrails are products we often make for residential use to keep safely projects like this and commercially with regard to safety of the public and workers.

The handrails were a last minute make overnight product which had to be powder coated and installed in less than 48 hours whereas it normally take the company around 2 weeks working in a normal period. The bench was pre-ordered so were ready when filming began and just needed installing after the main building was completed.

All Metal Solutions 3The other products were to ensure the inside of the house were finished to make it a wonderful space for the family concerned and were specified by the designer, again in advance of the programme’s filming. In keeping with the whole concept the table required a set of table legs for the dining room table along with three shelf units, all for use in the interior of the property.

All Metal Solutions 5This beautiful, but complicated butterfly is part of All Metal Solutions expansion into consumer artworks suitable for putting in the finished garden. This product would normally take a while to produce and luckily All Metal Solutions were given some time to produce this prior to the programme being filmed.

Our contact to produce the range of products featured in DIY SOS came through HLS structural engineers who also worked on the project and a company All Metal Solutions both recommend  and occasionally  work with.

To find out more how we could help you just follow this link>>>All Metal Solutions 6


How All Metal Solutions helped out our local friends with their steel requirements

The set of EastEnders

Steel requirements come to us in all shapes, sizes and from some amazing places!

eastenders steel requirements 2Well by now you have all seen the episode of EastEnders when the bus crashed into the ‘all steel’ Tube bridge!

What you might not have known is that we, All Metal Solutions of downtown Hatfield had a big role to play in that episode that was shot last December.

The bridge on the set is made of timber, and painted to look like a full steel bridge .

We were asked to come along and remove part of the bridge and rebuild using steel and steel panels as they wanted to crash a bus into it and make it look as real as possible in the way the bridge would look after and the impact it would have on the bus hitting it.

If you follow this link to the Eastenders’ bus crash it will give you images after the impact, it worked so well that they were able to drive a 2nd bus into the bridge to see if they could get a harder impact. In fact their steel requirements were more than exceeded by our supplies.

And then to complete the job back went the wooden bridge and their set designers made it look if it had been “repaired” by the time it was next viewed .

From our point of view, let’s hope the bridge falls down in the future so we can repair it with real steel!

Our ‘Friendly’ Suppliers

staircase steel requirementsIt’s not only stars with their steel requirements, but we also help our suppliers.

Knowing of our work done previously with steel bannisters for stairs (including one we did for a Ralph Lauren display in Harrods), a supplier asked them whether we could help.

The images seen here are of a stainless steel mirror finish handrail we have just completed.

They wanted to get rid of traditional handrail in their cottage. There is not much natural light above the stairs and the mirror finish on the inside of the steel stringers helps reflect more natural light on to the treads.

staircase steel requirements 2Bespoke mirror cladding covers to cover up all the existing timber work, and the glass also allows more natural light to come through the balustrade on the stairs.

These show our versatility, so even if it a simple steel beam or a complex piece of steel that needs manufacturing, All Metal Solutions are here to help you get your products produced to the highest standards and to a competitive price.

Just contact us with your needs from this link >>>