the front of a beautiful, gray steel building with three large windows and blue skies behind it with a sidewalk in front and around the side.When most people consider adding color to their metal building, thoughts automatically go to the question, “what color of paint should I put on a metal building?”

While painting your metal building is one method, there is another method that can be done to the steel prior to construction. This method also has added benefits to the steel that you would use in your metal building project. The method to alter the color of steel is heat.

History of Heat and Metal

To give you a little background on heat and metal, blacksmiths in the old days (and modern blacksmiths) use forges to heat the metal they are working with. This process makes the metal more malleable to shape into the various tools or works of art.

Steel Heating and Color

For steel, the heating process can be taken a step further than just shaping the metal. Exposing steel to heat alters the steel’s color.

If that’s the case, you wonder, how hot do you need to heat steel to change its color?

For steel’s darker colors such as brown, purple, and blue, the temperatures are between 480° F to 575° F. That’s extremely high temperatures, just within the range of an oven’s cooking temperatures.

So you might guess that the more heat you apply to steel, the lighter the color becomes on steel.

For those more curious about the specific temperatures to alter steel’s color, check out the chart below:

Temperature (°F) Color of Steel
480 Brown
520 Purple
575 Grey
Above 800 Incandescent colors
Between 1000 and 1500 Brighter shade of red
Between 1600 and 1900 Orange and then yellow
2000 Bright yellow

Hardness of Steel

So we see that heat changes the metal. Why might we do this besides changing steel’s color?

Going back to the blacksmith example, what you might not know is that in both the past and present blacksmiths use the color of steel to gage the hardness of the metal.

The hardness of steel reflects how well it can stand against wear resistance. The heating process makes steel tougher, stronger, and more durable. These qualities are part of the reason why having a metal building is more appealing than other types, such as pole barns and red iron buildings.

What you might often hear or see in the construction industry is the term “blue steel.”

If you glance back, blue steel is achieved around 575° F. Blue steel is steel that has been tempered to the point that it’s partially protected against rust.

Rust is the prime concern of having a metal building. But isn’t it neat to know that there is a way to temper steel to be resistant to rust?

If you want to learn more about what steel would be most effective for your next construction project, call us at (816) 529-1495 or contact us to see what options you have now that you know there’s more behind the color of steel.