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The Case of Punggol Rust: Why "Stainless" Metals Still Rust

May 25, 2021

Those of you staying near water bodies, take note.

Homeowners living near the sea may be treated to nice views everyday, but they should also be more mindful about the metal things they have at home.

Over the years, several homeowners living in such areas have mentioned that their stainless steel fittings rusted within a few months after moving in. And after seeing these pictures of these these stainless-steel-turned-rusty railings found along Punggol coastal shores, we’ve decided to ask our Instagram followers for additional input, and have also spoken to an interior designer to find out more.

Here’s what we found:

Stainless steel – rust-resistant or not?

Stainless steel is one of the most commonly-used metals in our homes. They’re known for their resistance to rust, so of course, any rusting issues would spark some concern.

Punggol Rust
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In our Instagram poll, many of our followers shared that their metallic items such as sinks, railings, and even rain showers would rust. Amy Ang (not her real name), who used to live near Pasir Ris Beach, recalled a time when everything from her railings to her window grilles would rust within a matter of months, even after cleaning or replacing them.

Punggol Rust
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Based on our recent poll on Instagram, 67% of poll respondents encountered a similar rust problem.

So given these responses, is “stainless” steel just a marketing gimmick? Or are sea breezes really just that potent? Here’s what Shawn Ng, an interior designer from ProjectGuru, has to say.

“The moisture and salt particles in the sea breeze can damage the chromium layer of stainless steel, which causes it to rust,” said Shawn. “But even then, stainless steel is still better in terms of rust resistance, as compared to wrought iron items.”

That just goes to show how even tough materials like stainless steel have chinks in their armour - which, in this case, is the mighty sea breeze. So if you’re a resident living in coastal districts like Punggol, Pasir Ris, and the East Coast, take notes.

How do we prevent our metal fittings from rust?

Northshore Drive by Orange Interior
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As many of our followers mentioned, powder coating or painting your metal structures can stave off the rusting as it creates a protective layer. But they’ve acknowledged that this method isn’t a foolproof prevention method - in fact, people like Amy have said that her metal items still rusted despite the added protective layer.

So then, what else can you do?

“Prevention can be done by cleaning the [sic] steel regularly and drying it with a soft cloth to wipe away any salt settling on the surface,” he says. “Alternatively, you can also apply a layer of car wax on a dry stainless steel surface and allow it to air dry before buffing it with a dry cloth.”

Chelsea Lodge by Inizio Atelier
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View this project by Inizio Atelier

In addition, you should also consider choosing items made out of grade 316 stainless steel which is the best in the market for rust and chloride resistance. Although Shawn has stated that most homes in Singapore use this particular grade of stainless steel, it’s always good to double check with your interior designer and keep these in mind the next time you’re out hunting for new accessories.

At any rate, rust isn’t inherently harmful to human beings, so there shouldn’t be any cause for concern if you find a rusty fixture at home or outside. However, if you think the structural integrity of a fixture has been compromised, consider contacting your interior designer, HDB or your local Town Council for assistance.

And if you’ve encountered the same problem, do drop us a DM on our Instagram page to tell us how you’ve resolved it.

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