Screen Enclosure Fabricators and Contractors

Contractors and aluminum enclosure fabricators are under increasing pressure. Recent hurricane seasons have cost homeowners and insurers millions of dollars in failed screen enclosures. Aluminum structures have collapsed at wind speeds far below what they are supposed to withstand. This has resulted in additional inspection, regulation and oversight. Underwriters, legislators, regulators and the aluminum fabricators industry are all involved in requiring additional building code enforcement at the state and local level.

Add to that the cut-throat price competition we all face in this economy. Once we factor in labor, scrap, overhead, customer service and warranty work; determining a total cost that leaves a profit and is still competitively priced is growing increasingly difficult.

And don't forget the potential for liability. Screen enclosures often serve as pool barriers. This  makes their failure a major safety issue.

How do you select your fasteners and fastening methods?

Fasteners have typically been selected primarily with labor costs in mind. Screws are chosen for speed and ease of fabrication or accepted convention rather than long-term durability or suitability for high wind loads.

The Aluminum Design Manual (ADM), Specifications and Guidelines for Aluminum Structures is specified by the Florida Building Code (FBC). This huge book includes guiding principles for minimum strengths for aluminum fastener alloys, and typical mechanical and physical properties, including thermal expansion, electrical conductivity, and density and fastener dimensions.

A companion book for structural engineers, Aluminum Structures: A Guide to Their Specifications and Design by J. Randolph Kissell and Robert L. Ferry makes these comments concerning issues in selecting fasteners:

"Screws are often used in aluminum structures... Hardened, plated steel…  routinely rust if exposed to the elements. Steel screws with a Rockwell hardness of C35 or greater are also prone to hydrogen-assisted stress corrosion cracking when subjected to moisture in dissimilar metal applications; avoid such use with aluminum." (page 257, 2nd Edition)

"In steel design, engineers usually give little consideration to fastener material; steel fasteners are used in steel structures. In aluminum, the choice is less obvious. This is probably because more options exist, as well as because aluminum structures are often provided without protective coatings and in corrosive environments unsuitable for steel alloys. Corrosion of fasteners is a critical concern since fasteners are much smaller than the material they join. Corrosion of fasteners tends to result in a greater decrease in the strength of the structure than the same depth of corrosion in a larger member.

"When different materials are used for fasteners and the members they join, galvanic corrosion may occur. Different materials, even different alloys of aluminum, have different electrical potential, and in the presence of an electrolyte, such as a wet industrial atmosphere, electric current flows from one material to another. This current tends to corrode the anode and protect the cathode-the principle used in cathodic protection. The greater the difference in electrical potential, the more severe the corrosion; conversely, you can prevent galvanic corrosion by using a fastener with about the same electrical potential as the base metal. Galvanic corrosion can also be thwarted if the relative surface area of the anode is much larger than that of the cathode, with is the case when the fastener is the cathode. There is also the issue of the corrosion resistance of the fastener itself in the service environment, independent of the metal being joined." (page 259)

"It is only a matter of time before plated steel and ferritic and martensitic stainless steel screws rust when exposed to the elements. The heads of through-fastened screws used to attach the cladding of a structure are exposed to the weather, so they rust right out there for everyone to see." (page 261)

Typical screws begin to rust almost immediately and lose considerable strength and holding power. After a few years, weather, pool water and chemicals, rain and exposure to salt seriously compromise the strength and integrity of your fasteners. Corroded screws loosen and allow water and corrosive minerals to enter the aluminum, causing it to deteriorate from the inside. Stainless steel screws are softer and may cause electrolysis or aluminum deterioration caused by different metals touching. Both types of screws are susceptible to over torque which can create a gully in the aluminum where water will collect.

Even if your aluminum screen enclosures are well built and designed to resist wind loads, properly anchored, braced and connected; typical fasteners let you down.

There is a better fastener system, BLUE-TAP with PRO-TECT* Fastener Protection System and NYLO-TEC.

The PRO-TECT Fastener Protection System was engineered for screen enclosures, Florida rooms, patio rooms and pool enclosures in the demanding South Florida environment. The PRO-TECT sleeve protects the screw down to the masonry, giving rigidity to the aluminum around the fastener and reducing the risk of over torque which can create a gully in the aluminum where water will collect. The nylon sleeve encases the fastener and protects from salt air and water intrusion. With the added protection of the color matched nylon cap, water and salt is repelled away from the fastener head. The one piece shaft and washer system also solves the problem of electrolysis or aluminum deterioration caused by different metals touching as they are completely isolated. This allows a more cost effective, stronger carbon steel BLUE-TAP to be used, instead of softer stainless steel, adding more strength and stability to the structure. BLUE-TAP Concrete Anchors are Miami-Dade County Product Control Approved** and comply with the Florida Building Code, including the High Velocity Hurricane Zone. The PRO-TECT System is available in a variety of UV stabilized colors to coordinate with the frame structure.

NYLO-TEC high quality grade case hardened carbon steel fasteners provide long term strength. When driving a standard coated fastener, the coating chips off, exposing the steel to the elements and encouraging corrosion. NYLO-TEC use a color matched glass reinforced nylon head, not a coating. The UV stabilized anticorrosive head never rusts or fades. NYLO-TEC extends the life of the structure in all environments especially in coastal regions.

Protect Your Reputation

Most importantly. BLUE-TAP with PRO-TECT Fastener Protection System and NYLO-TEC protect your reputation!

BLUE-TAP with PRO-TECT Fastener Protection System and NYLO-TEC will not let you down. Your customers will recommend you to neighbors, friends and family. A more durable product lowers your customer service and warranty costs. Factor out the repairs, replacements and product defect resolution issues you face with your current fasteners. Call us now Toll Free at 877-463-3125. Find out what BLUE-TAP with PRO-TECT Fastener Protection System and NYLO-TEC can do for your business and your bottom line.

Open a Contractor Account with Florida Fasteners

Order Florida Fastener Direct Products at Contractor Pricing. Open a Contractor Account with Florida Fasteners. If you are a Retailer or a Contractor Call Customer Service at 877-463-3125 or complete the Florida Fasteners Contractor Account Request >

BLUE-TAP with PRO-TECT Fastener Protection System >
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*patent pending
** Miami-Dade County, Florida 0617.02 Exp: October 07, 2014

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