All posts by Richie

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 >>>


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 >>> 


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


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 >>>

bespoke steel cage 2Here at All Metal Solutions  we have over the past months told you of some exciting, high profile bespoke steel jobs  that we have carried out for Ralph Lauren and a flat in Belgravia.

Well when your main business is bespoke steel projects, not all can be like that.  For example this latest work carried out for CBM Electrical of Welwyn Garden City. They needed a robust steel cage to be fitted onto a new flat back truck so that they could safely move large, tall electrical equipment involved in their industrial and commercial work.

After taking the required measurements and getting approval of the drawings we constructed the various bespoke steel parts in our workshop. Then when CBM  could let us have the truck, we constructed the cage in-situ on the vehicle in our workshop. The photographs of the result are what you see in this blog.

bespoke steel grillAll Metal Solutions can supply any type of high quality bespoke steel security products

Additional security measures can also be required inside commercial properties to protect all types of products from expensive computer equipment through to pharmaceuticals. Bespoke steel mesh security cages can be made to stop theft or unauthorised people from gaining access. Our team  can produce high quality steel cages that have been carefully designed to provide high levels of security for an assortment of requirements.

bespoke steel cageSteel security cages can be made in any size and finish therefore it is important to understand exactly what is required in order to assess the type of cage that will be the best for your requirements. We can provide you with a number of products including:-

•    Secure Steel Mesh encloseures
•    Computer Security Cages
•    Secure steel mesh walls and part encloseure.
•    Chemical and poison stores.
•    Cleaners stores.
•    Bonded stores.

As experienced metal fabricators, we also understand that a caged area may need to remain aesthetically pleasing in areas where visitors will be passing by. Our bespoke designs always take into consideration the surroundings and client requirements to blend the appropriate bespoke steel installation with the rest of the area of the property or, as in this case, vehicle to be protected.

To find out more just follow this link .

 All metal Solutions WeldingWelding  is a process where two or more pieces of metal are fastened together by use of heat and a suitable filler material. The process of applying heat melts the material with the filler and they become a homogeneous mass as they cool. The end result being 1 piece and not 2 pieces joined together

The concept was first developed in the middle ages, although the modern process wasn’t introduced until the 19th century. Before this, apart from mechanical joining such as riveting “forge welding” was the only means of joining two metal objects together. Forge welding used a forge or furnace to heat metal to extremely high temperatures and then both pieces were hammered together until they became one;  usually with the use of a “flux” or other chemical that helped remove impurity from the joint. When introduced, electric and gas flame heating methods proved to be much safer and faster for welders.

All metal Solutions WeldingAs many metal objects  are created by welding, indeed sometimes using  tools that have been welded themselves, welders have a wide range of employment opportunities , e.g. pipes, cars, aircraft, ships, machinery etc  etc. The possibilities are endless as welding can be done in most places, including underwater. Some systems use gas, while others use electric current and the newest forms involve use of a laser. The method used depends on a variety of factors but the form and thickness of the material is generally the deciding factor on which is most effective. Manual Metal Arc, Flux-Cored, Gas Metal-Arc, Gas Tungsten-Arc, Metal Inert Gas, Plasma Arc, Shielded-Metal Arc, Submerged Arc and Tungsten Inert Gas are all used and often for machine operated production processes.

The most widely used methods in the production of small quantities or “one offs” by a single “welder” are:

Manual Metal Arc Welding

Manual metal Arc welding or “Stick Welding” is popular due to its low cost. The process involves a device that gives off an electric current through the materials to be joined via a “stick” of filler material or electrode. It is called ‘arc welding’ because the electrical current that is created between the device and the materials forms an electric arc and hence generates the heat that melts the material and filler rod. This melted material is protected by a flux that is incorporated into the filler rod. During the process this flux melts and forms a hard crust over work to stop the weld from oxidizing.

MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding

This process uses a gas to shield the weld metal rather than the “Flux” in the arc process. The gas keeps the metal being welded from being effected from natural elements in the environment, like oxygen.  Rather than the use of a “Stick” of filler, this process uses a large drum of filler wire which is fed through an operator held “gun” along with the gas and electrical current. This allows the welder to operate continuously, making the process fairly quick. Operation of the equipment does not require high skill levels, but, the equipment used in MIG Welding can only be used where drafts and breezes cannot disturb the gas shield involved in the process. This process was originally introduced in the 1940’s to produce Liberty ships but was really perfected in the 1960’s.

TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding

all metal solutions welding 2This is much like the process of MIG, above, in that is uses a gas shield to protect the weld. The main difference between these two forms is that TIG uses a tungsten electrode and a hand held filler rod, while MIG uses a metal wire which doubles as the electrode. Tungsten is used as the electrode because it is unique in that it can be heated to a higher temperature before melting than all other metals. This method is usually used in industries that work with stainless steel & aluminum.

All Metal Solutions  uses all 3 of these techniques depending on the nature of the job and its location; in addition we have a mobile welding facility that is perfect for on-site work.  For more details on what we can offer follow this link .

Metal Handrails masterIn a world where we are now more considerate towards the disabled, metal staircases are giving way to accessible ramps with metal handrails, and lifts as well as the standard staircase.  This is especially true in public access buildings such as railways stations across the country.

Recently a contract was issued to a main contractor, Hollywell Building Services,  on behalf of the end user Abellio Greater Anglia for the re-configuration of the ticket office to accommodate less abled persons at Stansted Mountfitchet station in Essex.  As part of this project,  new steps, a ramp with metal handrails and disabled friendly counters were required.

metal handrails and grilles Stansted Mountfitchet Station
Stansted Mountfitchet Station

All Metal Services were awarded the subcontract to supply and fit balustrading and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant metal handrails  to the new facilities, as well as producing and fitting modifications to the existing anti-vandal grilles.

In the first instance we took the architects drawings supplied and produced DDA compliant designs for approval by the client. After approval we then proceeded to procurement and manufacture whilst liaising with Abellio Greater Anglia and Hollywell Building Services to ensure that all the manufactured components surrounding the staircase and ramp would be delivered on time and installed with the minimum disruption to the operation of the station and to the public.

Metal Handrails
Metal Handrails

To ensure the best possible customer experience and to comply with DDA regs we used a “Warm to the touch” paint finish on the yellow metal handrails. The re-configuring of the anti-vandal screens was necessary to allow the new DDA handrails to have sufficient clearance so as not to cause snags and catches to the traveling public.

This is just another example of how All Metal Solutions not only create solutions to construction problems   but also look at the wider consequences of their proposals whether  they be metal handrails in railway stations, shop fitting items in high end outlets or simply metal beams required by the building trade (commercial or residential).

To find out more about how All Metal Solutions could help your project come to fruition whilst at the same time taking into account full end user requirement as well as cost and quality just follow this link.

The Steel Staircase Problem

Cosmetic International  employed Woodhouse Contracts of Hatfield as the main contractor on their Watford site. Woodhouse’s requirement was to fit a compliant steel staircase into a limited space between a concrete slab and a proposed new disabled lift and that it be not only a compliant but aesthetically pleasing.

Steel staircase architect drawing
Steel staircase architect drawing

All Metal Solutions was approached to become the sub-contractor to design, build and fit the stairway. We designed several versions as solutions to the problem for comment. After both the Client and main contractor commented and after various further issues were discussed; All Metal Solutions produced a final drawing of the steel staircase for structural approval .

final steel staircase 2Building regulations state that every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that every level can be reached safely by stairs or ramps.

As half of all accidents involving falls within and around buildings occur on stairways, this risk can be greatly reduced by ensuring that any change in level incorporates basic precautions to guard against accident and falls.

Regulation for Steel Stairways and Landings

The effective width is measured between handrails, clear of obstructions. The effective width of our stairway was in accordance with the recommendations of a minimum of 800 mm from one storey to another where a continuous handrail is fitted to both sides of a flight with no more than 16 rises.

final steel staircaseThe design of any pedestrian protective barriers in and around such gaps in any protective barrier should not be large enough to permit a child to pass through. To ensure this, openings in a protective barrier should prevent the passage of a 100 mm diameter sphere. However, the space between a rise in a stair and the lowest edge of the protective barrier may be larger than 100 mm, provided the lowest edge of the barrier is not more than 50 mm above, and parallel to, the pitch line of the stair.

There are more points to be considered of course and we took all the necessary steps at this design stage to ensure we complied.

On approval we manufactured and have since installed the steel staircase as can be seen from the pictures. However, the job is not yet complete. As soon as the builder clears the area we will be installing the glass panels onto the stainless steel handrails.


The problem was to construct and fit a steel stairway with limited space between a concrete slab, a new lift and a main entrance doorway. In addition the client also wanted clear under stair space for storage.

The solution that was eventually put into practice was affected by good old fashioned drawing and drafting works. Delays that occurred in the process caused by planning and client discussions meant  All Metal Solutions had to accommodate a delayed start date of over a month, and to provide a quicker turn round when the go was finally given; demonstrating All Metal Solution’s great flexibility and awareness in our planning and costing.

For more on what we could do for you just follow the link here .

CE Marking for steel manufacturers From July last year a new EU regulation came into force which means there is now a legal requirement for all structural steel fabricators to have an accreditation in place that enables them to CE Mark (C.E. are the abbreviations of the French phrase ‘Conformite Europeen which literally means European Conformity )any of the 71 products covered by the regulation that they sell for structural purposes.

This standard is known as ISO 1090

If steel manufacturers don’t  have this accreditation they are  now “technically” selling any steel for structural use illegally. Although All Metal Solutions are applying for this mark, explained in more detail below, we have a Letter of Intent from the Auditor of the scheme that covers us “legally” to sell our customers all the products covered.

The industry has been very slow on the uptake with this regulation, most seemed to hope it would just fizzle out but the larger fabricators are now putting this system in place and as one of the smaller steel manufacturers we must  follow.

There are around 9,000 fabricators in the UK , less than 5% currently  have this accreditation and even less are actively putting it in as the cost is around £10,000. Therefore  trading standards have agreed that there will have to be an additional period of grace allowed for steel fabricators to get this accreditation  in place.

The main areas concerned with achieving accreditation are:  all welders have the correct qualifications, the company  appoints a “responsible welding coordinator”  to monitor and sign off the quality of the welding on a regular basis and that welding consumables are themselves CE marked. The idea being that all aspects of the production of a structural component are traceable and controlled.

In parallel with ISO 1090, All Metal Solutions are also going for ISO 9001 accreditation.

What is CE Marking?

CE Marking of construction products was introduced in the Construction Products Directive (CPD) in 1988. The CPD is a European Directive that seeks to remove barriers to trade and applies to all construction products permanently incorporated in ‘construction works’. This includes steel products such as steel sections, structural bolts, welding consumables and fabricated steel components that are used in buildings, bridges, highways and other civil engineering structures.

On 1st July 2013 the Construction Products Directive (CPD) was replaced by another piece of EU legislation called the Construction Products Regulation (CPR). The main change is that unlike a European directive a European regulation is mandatory in all member states including the UK.

What are All Metal doing  to get ISO 1090; CE Marking?

1.    ISO 9001 – the organisation will have implemented quality management system requirements for all areas of the business including:

  • Facilities
  • People
  • Training
  • Services
  • Equipment

2.    Welding Qualifications – all welders who weld structural steel will need to have the qualification BS EN 287-1 or ISO 9601-1. And the company will have its own in house Responsible Welding Coordinator (RWC).

3.    UKAS Certification – finally, an examining body registered with UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) audits the standard, which involves three main stages:-

  • An audit of the Factory Production Control (FPC) System.
  • A design evaluation – carried out as a desktop assessment & involves assessment of the mfrs. design protocol and associated calculations by a structural engineer.
  • The assessment of welding and welding requirements (usually carried out at the same time as the FPC audit).

On successfully passing the audit we will be issued with the acreditation. We can then  Certificate our packaging and products.

4.    Surveillance audits (only applicable once CE certified).   An initial audit in the first year then  a surveillance visit the following year, then 2 years later,  then three years later.

All Metal Solutions have signed with ISOQAR who have issued All Metal Solutions a letter of intent , which Trading Standards  are accepting as a stop gap until full accreditation;  it shows that All Metal Solutions are one of the “few” smaller steel manufacturers who are actually being proactive and trying to fullfill their commitments to the law and put the system in place before being fined or threated with closure.

So if you want to ensure your steel is fully covered by this new regulation contact us here.


steel structures in mayfairIt’s not just warm, safe steel supply and erection jobs for well-known brands like Ralph Lauren that All Metal Solutions do.  Our Bespoke service runs to the contracts to supply steel structures where more caution is required.

Take this job that we undertook in Belgravia in London’s swish SW1 area recently.  We were asked to manufacture and supply 3 bespoke steel structures for some work that was planned to a 2 bedroom flat on the 3rd floor of a block and then complete the steel erection. Now besides the problems of getting the steel into the flat we had to consider the traffic chaos that might occur and the relevant permissions associated with all this.

Our first thought was the obvious – hire a crane to lift the steel structures  up the side of the block of flats and through the window so we could complete the steel erection. However, that will take time and hassle so thinking out of the box we decided to hire a HIAB Truck, rather than a crane as we knew we could park on the street and as technically we were only “unloading” we realised that there would be no need for a permit which we would need for a crane.

Lifting the Steel Structures
Lifting the Steel Structures

As they say a picture tells a hundred words and the one above says it all .

We lifted the 3 steel structures to the 3rd floor, pulled them through the window to get into the 2 bed flat and the whole operation took just 15 minutes from the time the HIAB lorry arrived until the job was completed.

Also the HIAB also brought the steel on the back of the truck , so only one cost instead of the hire of a truck and a crane!

So another challenge for All Metal Solutions swiftly executed.  Here at All Metal Solutions we use lateral thinking to solve Vertically Challenged problems!

If you need a bespoke solution to manufacturing and/or installing any steel products then the only thing for you to do is contact us here.