6- Zinc sheet metal basics with a special note about galvanized steel.


Two different basic classes exist for decorative sheet zinc.

Natural Zinc Sheets

The most typical, alloys zinc with a little bit of Titanium, which gives it strength and rigidity, and a resistance to dents and dings. Tables and sheet metal wall panels typically use this, sometimes referred to as “bright” or “natural” zinc.

Dead Soft Zinc Sheets

Another, lesser-used alloy is soft or dead soft sheet, which excludes Titanium, making it extremely malleable. Also, it’s common for metals to remove the stiffer alloy component and call it “dead soft”.

Dead Soft material was historically used for roof flashing. This material is easy to work with hammers, but it gets dented easily. Typically available in much narrower widths, manufacturers primarily fabricate it for flashing details.

Galvanized Zinc

At this point, I must discuss galvanized sheet. Hot-dip galvanizing is the process of immersing iron or steel in a bath of molten zinc to produce a corrosion resistant, multi-layered coating.

It can have all kinds of nasty stuff in the bath as well that helps this surface hold up to harsh outdoor elements. This is STEEL, with a thin coating of zinc, so it fabs much differently than sheet zinc.

Do not use galvanized steel for food surfaces- this is an unacceptable choice. It can and will rust over time, and it will release small nasty particles that could contaminate your food and cause significant issues. Don’t do it!

I’ve seen all sorts of DIY instructions posted online over the years, and it makes me want to outreach every time. Decorative elements are fine, but not use this material to create galvanized counters or tops.

Sheet Metal Gauge

Zinc sheet thickness is similar to other gauges, but differs from wire gauge sizes and sheet metal charts. The higher the number gauge, the smaller the thickness.

Thinner sheets tend to oil can more, or ripple, while thicker sheets are harder to work and form, but resist rippling. Most commercially available sheets are in the 16-24 gauge range.

The most common thicknesses for decorative sheet metal tables are 22 gauge (.027”) or 20 gauge (.030”). These measurements are approximately 1/32” in thickness. I like to use thicker decorative metal sheets on bar tops, so a minimum of 16 gauge to 8 gauge (.125” or 3mm).

As a rule of thumb, I remember 16 gauge is roughly 1/16” of an inch, or .06”, and 20 gauge is half of that, or .03” (Both are older/less common sizes for shotguns). I can interpolate between those for approximate thicknesses, and I also know which direction the scale moves each way.

Sheet Size

Finding the largest sheet size can be tricky as fabricators have various material sizes they can use. If they can’t quickly determine the biggest size, they probably haven’t done enough projects to understand these restrictions.

Not everyone can make 10-foot long pieces without a seam, so research before ordering to know what you’re getting.

Natural sheets are usually either 1 meter wide or 48 inches wide. They come in lengths of 8 to 10 feet, but can be made longer if needed. Most sheets are spooled during production and can be easily transported and installed on site. The widest dead soft material I’ve used is 27”.

Copper and brass sheets are a different animal. Copper only comes in 36″ widths domestically, though some larger widths are available for import from Europe. Brass is available in 4’x10′ sheets.

Width is generally the limiting factor. If you’re ordering sheet for a project, know that it may come rolled up in a box, leaving it more susceptible to damage.

If you need multiple sheets for a project, ask about a pallet charge. This allows the distributor to send the sheets to you flat, and this method saves time compared to unrolling and destressing sheets that are rolled up in a box.

When cutting and wrapping the sheet around your material, make sure to subtract 3.5 inches from both the length and width. This is necessary for a standard 1.5-inch material. For instance, if you have an 8-foot sheet, it can cover a substrate that is 92.5 inches or smaller. So, consider the format material and make your project smaller.

Wall Panels from 3 Spark

While we don’t make sheet metal countertops, we can make wall panels and special accents for your project. These make a stylish and affordable compliment to our tables and bar tops.

We understand the importance of efficiency and precision in every project. That’s why we offer a wide range of services to cater to your specific needs. We excel in creating stunning wall panels and unique accents that will elevate the overall aesthetic of your space.

Our team of skilled craftsmen will work closely with you to bring your vision to life. Our sheets are carefully cut and wrapped around your chosen material (either 1/2″ or 3/4″), guaranteeing a seamless fit and installation.

If your project requires elegant wall panels or unique accents, we will surpass your expectations with our expertise. Contact us today to discuss your project and let us help you transform your space with our exquisite metalwork. With 3 Spark Design, your vision becomes a reality.

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