4- Can you weld the seams of my zinc bartop on site? 

Ah, this timeless question. To know why the answer is “no”, let’s explore zinc’s properties and some strong reasons why you shouldn’t do it.

Zinc melts at 787 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can be made semi-liquid at much lower temps.

Another important number to know is max service temperature. This is the temperature at which it is safe to use a metal for a prolonged period. Zinc’s Max Service Temperature is 140 degrees.

To protect counters made of zinc, use trivets or hot pads before placing hot skillets from the broiler on them. This is good advice for any surface, so why tempt fate with zinc?

Can you weld zinc bar tops?

To begin explaining this common question about Zinc, let’s look at the melting points of other post-transition metals. These metals typically have extremely low melting points.

Tin = 450 Bismuth = 521 Lead = 621 Aluminum =1221

And for fun, some other popular copper alloys:

Brass = 900 Bronze = 950 and Copper = almost 2000

As a comparison, stainless steel melts at 2500 degrees and has a max service temp of 1600 degrees F.

The start of our answer comes back to an understanding of alloys and melt temperatures.

True zinc bistros from France are fabricated with Pewter, which is an alloy composed primarily of Tin. When worked on site, the filler rod is the actual pewter material. Pewter melts at an extremely low temperature, around 450 degrees F.

At this temperature it won’t damage the wooden core below, and the metal can be blended perfectly. The seam will age and patina the same as the surrounding metal.

Why do zinc seams patina differently?

Zinc is a much different story than Tin. A special tin alloy is used to protect the zinc bar top. This alloy prevents the wood from catching fire and also prevents the thin layer of zinc from vaporizing.

When bar tops are seamed on-site, the filler metal reacts to patina in a different way than zinc and changes color. So the seam is not actually soldered or welded. Instead, a hot bead of metal caulk is laid between the two pieces, which acts as a filler.

I don’t recommend this for several reasons. The main reason is that it looks awful, and there are better ways to achieve a tight seam. In recent years, manufacturers have been fabricating tops in increasing lengths to eliminate project seams.

While this seems like a good idea, the larger pieces are more fragile and susceptible to internal failure. Moving these large tops is a monumental task. It can require up to 10 people to install them because of their size.

Improved technology and better manufacturing techniques can product tighter seams, as discussed below.

Another reason not to solder or weld these in the field goes back to a basic construction principle: The world goes together with seams.

If you attempt to join a thin piece of soft metal around two large plates and movement occurs, this can cause an aesthetic failure. An example would be someone who sits, leans, or steps on the edge of a section. Despite our best efforts, these two pieces can move independently from one another. Even with the installation of a subtop, small movements happen.

Additionally, the weld must be undone to free the piece if the piece needs replacing.

As an example, I finished a job at a prominent golf club, headed home, and received an email early the next morning. The customer liked the new tops and the installation, but a light fell and damaged part of the bar. They wanted to know how quickly I could remake this section before their yearly event.

Knowing the melting point of zinc explains why magic or alchemy cannot be used to weld bar tops with dissimilar metals. The heat generated during the process may ignite the wood, and the seams are displeasing to the eye.

3 Spark’s Solution

At 3 Spark Design, our process for crafting the finest zinc bar tops starts with a basic design principle: The world goes together with seams.

Years of study have shown that 10-foot pieces are the perfect length for bar top projects. Why 10 feet?

5 Reasons for 10-foot bar tops:

  • 10-foot lengths are easier to manufacture.
  • 10-foot pieces move through production quickly.
  • 10-foot lengths are simpler to crate and ship.
  • 10-foot pieces are easier to handle and move.
  • 10-foot pieces can be installed by 2 people.

This results in faster turn-around times and delivery, which is a savings we can pass on to the customer. A win-win for everyone!

In concert with a standard length, we have focused on perfecting the seam for your project. How did we do this?

5 ways we create the perfect seam:

Quality waterproof substrates. These substrates are less likely to incur damage on-site with movement from plywoods and other laminated assemblies.

Precision Manufactured Components. Our pieces are designed with CAD software and components are cut with state-of-the-art CNC equipment.

Control Metal Thickness. We control our zinc metal thickness with precision manufacturing techniques. No guessing means seams have the same thickness material on both sides.

Superior Finishing Techniques. Our talented team knows how to dress and polish your final product. We assemble each bar top before it leaves the studio.

Tight Seams = Caulk Dreams. Quickly dress the small seam on site with a close-match silicone. Easily touch up or maintain the seam over the life of the bar top.

We can say with pride that our products far surpass anything else available. Our manufacturing studio in Hickory, NC ships products globally, and we’re proud to make them in the USA.

Contact us today and start your custom zinc bar top project!

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