Atria - Finishes and Detailing - Steel Structures.

The detailing of individual members and their connections is crucial to achieving a satisfactory architectural treatment. It is commonly the fabricator’s responsibility to detail connections, and often this expertise can inform the design process.However, it is important to ensure that aesthetic considerations are properly defined and controlled. The following should be considered:

• Nature of the connection between components of the primary structure
• Connection of the cladding system
• Connection of sundry components such as access equipment, lighting, etc.

Connections can be expressed or ‘invisible’.The strategy for connecting components should take into account the practicality of achieving the desired outcome. Site welding can offer ‘invisible connections’ within certain limitations. The following should be considered:

• The type of welding technique and position required to form a connection
• Butt welding can be ground flush whereas fillet welds cannot
• The type of weld testing required to verify connection adequacy
• The effects of heat distortion on the structural strength and geometry
• The effect of welding on shop-applied finishes.

Where connections are aesthetically critical, sample workmanship should always be called for as a basis for selecting a contractor. Samples should be kept as a record against which to judge finished workmanship.

Steelwork will require a paint finish for reasons of aesthetics and durability. Paint technology provides an ever increasing number of options.However, the choice can be guided by consideration of the following criteria:

• The steelwork fabricator who delivers and erects the steel will inevitably damage any paint applied at the works no matter how carefully the protection measures are prepared.
• The contractor who has a very tight programme may like to see primer, under- coat and finish coat on the steelwork applied at the works since it may be very difficult to apply the finish in high-level steelwork without extensive temporary works.
• Very hard paint finishes are more difficult to damage although when the inevitable occurs they are usually more difficult to repair to a good standard.
• If the finish-coat is applied on site, some parts of the steelwork may be difficult to reach and the standard of finish will not be as good as that achieved in the paint shop.
• Unless touching up to damaged areas is very minor, the result is unlikely to  be satisfactory and therefore a full site applied decorative finish may prove  necessary.
• The choice of system will also depend on the fabricator’s paint shop and its relationship with the paint supplier.

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