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Coated Coil
Monday | 29 July, 2013 | 8:12 am

Elements in elevation

By Nick Wright

With a silicone additive, Dura Coat’s coil coating paint protects metal panels from fading and faltering

July 2013 - Denver has always been known as the Mile High City. Along the eastern edge of the Front Range, the longitudinal corridor near where much of Colorado’s population lives, other communities share in the extreme weather that comes with being in high desert plains. One day it could be 90 degrees. The next, it could be below freezing with a foot of snow. In and around La Salle, about 50 miles north of Denver, the mile-high weather is no different.

That’s why Flatiron Steel, La Salle, Colo., specifies a durable coil coating finish for the metal roofing products it manufactures. The company, founded in 2006 by Lee Smith, makes custom metal roof paneling for industries such as agricultural, residential, light commercial or will sell to an individual Joe Homeowner. 

MM-0713-coated-image2Flatiron Steel’s clients are mostly out west. But occasionally Smith will ship beyond the border. 

“We had one project where we shipped all the way to Guam,” he says. “And we have some product down in Nicaragua, where we donated to an orphanage there. So it’s a rare instance where we ship overseas; the majority is [sold] here.”

The majority of Flatiron Steel’s roofing products are A755 grade 80 hot-dip galvanized steel sheet, 407⁄8 inches wide by 0.0142 inch thick. They must hold up to not only snow, ice and other elements but also ultraviolet light. 

“Our shop here is at 5,000 feet, and we do a lot of roofs around 7,000 to 8,000 feet,” Smith says. “So the UV rays are pretty tough on painted surfaces here.”

To resist weathering, Flatiron Steel specifies the XT-40S Ceranamel coil coating finish, made by Riverside, Calif.-based Dura Coat Products Inc., a high-performance coating company. 

Generations of steel

Smith started Flatiron Steel when he was 23 years old, but steel has been in his blood for generations. Lee’s parents, Dave and Cathy Smith, founded Teton Steel in Idaho Falls in 1993, which is where Lee learned the trade at the age of 13. Now, Flatiron Steel has two locations—the other,  which opened in 2012, is a 15,000 square foot facility in Colorado Springs and employs nine. Lee’s sister and brother-in-law have a branch in Montana, as well. “We try to run as lean as possible,” Smith says.

Flatiron Steel originally provided its paneling with the Dura Coat Ceranamel XT-40 coating sourced through Alpine Distribution. About a year and a half ago, Dura Coat account manager Jorge Perez contacted Smith to present some other options.

“We haven’t always had the relationship we do with any paint supplier until Jorge got ahold of us,” Smith adds.

Flatiron Steel doesn’t coat the coil itself. Rather, it’s precoated from the mill or the company will order paintable substrate and send that to a third-party coil coater. “They’ll coat 20,000 pounds or 40,000 pounds, whatever we need. It saves on the cash flow,” Smith says.

In La Salle, Flatiron Steel has automated its workflow, giving the company an advantage against competitors in turnaround time. Five roll-forming machines create panel shapes. A slitting line, press brake and shear get panels to the right size and profile. Its business model stipulates a two-day turnaround on all production orders, “whereas everyone else is at least a week, minimum,” he says. This allows Flatiron Steel to not only deliver to its accounts quickly but also provide customer service to individuals who are working on their own houses.

Premium coating

On the chemical level, the resin composition of the Ceranamel improves durability and glass retention, letting the panels self-clean and retain color through the product’s longevity, keeping it from breaking down. 

“It holds up very well,” Smith explains. “We’ve sold significant volumes in the agricultural market here and haven’t had anyone say the paint is fading, chipping, cracking or rusting out. In the seven years we’ve been here, and the 20 years our Idaho branch has been in business, no one has come back with any product and reported problems with it.”

Ceranamel is part of what Dura Coat calls a hybrid coating system, according to Kevin Ebert, vice president at Dura Coat. 

MM-0713-coated-image1

The coating is one of Dura Coat’s premium products, intended for construction and post-frame applications, mainly roofing, sidewall and trim. It’s not something that would be used for a gutter or garage door.

Dura Coat emphasizes rigorous research and development for all of its products before they go to market. The Ceranamel is a direct result of the R&D work that has been a cornerstone of Dura Coat’s growth since it was founded 27 years ago, says Ebert. The coating officially entered the market in 2007 and is concocted at Dura Coat’s Riverside and Huntsville, Ala., facilities.

One feature of the Ceranamel system that’s unique to other competitive coatings is the XT-40S is recoatable. For example, say Flatiron Steel has 8,000 pounds of gray coil that no one is buying, while its red coil is getting gobbled up by clients. Flatiron Steel could match the red color over that gray, recoat it and get use out of that inventory without removing the existing coat. 

“In most cases, you don’t need an additional primer,” Ebert says, adding Dura Coat offers a 40-year warranty.

Inside and out

Out in the field, it’s clear that Dura Coat’s R&D efforts pay off. The paneling resists scratching, so operators at Flatiron Steel don’t have to be overly gentle with it during handling. It has a smooth, slick quality that lets sheet stack nicely when it comes out of the roll former, Smith says. The Ceranamel is a two-coat primer/finish system that is corrosion-resistant with the help of the DC477 Global Primer, according to Dura Coat’s website. Dura Coat’s backer completes the system, and its internal lubricants assist roll forming.

“I’ve had customers call back after they’ve installed the panels on the roof. We’ll get a big dust storm that comes through and they say everything washed off in the rain. Then it looks new again,” Smith says.MM-0713-coated-image3

Ceranamel’s silicon modified polyesters have improved resistance to weathering. Aside from accelerated QUV tests, humidity and salt spray treatments, Dura Coat has sites in southern Florida and Arizona where there’s relatively stable UV intensity and ideal elevation for tests.

“It’s a far superior product, I’ve noticed,” Smith says.

Flatiron Steel has delivered panels to indoor equestrian riding arenas and other large-scale agricultural facilities. One issue, Smith notes, is the presence of chemicals, pesticides or manure in agricultural environments that could compromise a coating’s integrity.

“No paint company will warranty its product if it’s near manure or in contact with it on a farm. But it still holds up very well, and we’ve been successful in the agricultural market,” he says.

The coating is suitable for interiors, as well. Many people like the old continuous wave corrugation whether it’s for a restaurant, a home or a bar. Smith has the panels in his own home. It’s a solid testament to a product when the company president uses it. 

“I cut rectangles, 8 inches by 16 inches and put them up on the wall, basically shingling the ceiling,” he says.

Flatiron Steel’s office and showroom feature different panels installed in the interior, so the general public can browse the profiles and see how a certain material would appear. Aside from the tried-and-true benefits of Ceranamel, Flatiron Steel doesn’t put a gloss on serving customers.

 “We’re very customer service-based,” Smith says. “I don’t like going somewhere to get something done where either they won’t do business with you or it seems they don’t care. But customer service is important here—everyone here cares about what we do.”MM

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