Should I use aluminum or steel for my project?

Choosing between metals and finishes can seem complicated, but doesn't have to be. When estimating a project, RCM will help you choose the appropriate metal and finish based on a few standard specifications: functionality, cost and aesthetic. Functionality will narrow down the options quickly. How heavy duty does the metal need to be? Is it supporting something? Is it exposed to the elements? Let's use a common order from our shop, an ornamental gate, to demonstrate. Aluminum is lighter weight and less prone to rust than steel, both pros in the decision making process! However, it is a more expensive option than steel. Steel is heavier, which may make it more desirable in some cases, and it can be treated in a number of ways to both protect from rust and reflect a variety of aesthetics. Some such treatments are: prime, paint, powder coat, clearcoat and galvanization. Stainless steel, however, is not customarily coated and is rust resistant. It is, in comparison, the most expensive of the three options. Our experts will take these and many other factors into account when estimating your unique project.

Custom or box store panel?

When considering a home renovation, it may be tempting to purchase, for example, gate panels or cable rail kits from a big box store or even online. Especially with current farmhouse and modern industrial design trends on the rise, these vendors are able to offer mass-produced products at an economical rate. However, purchasing a mass-produced product means you will have a limited number of styles, little to no customer service and you will have to install on your own. DIY projects are definitely money savers, but when dealing with metal, there is a high probability of ill-fitting pieces or installation snafus that result in more time and money. Purchasing custom products from a local supplier such as RCM will be the more expensive option. However, the metal used will be higher grade, the design and finish will be completely custom and our team will ensure the perfect fit, functionality and a worry-free installation.

Why is steel so expensive?

Like many construction-grade materials, steel's pricing fluctuates greatly based on supply and demand. Unlike lumber, which is most closely related to the housing market and residential construction, steel is closely linked to the automotive industry. For this reason, the price of steel fluctuates not only month to month, but sometimes week to week and even daily according to market trends. Our estimators take these trends into consideration with every job. Projects with a shorter timeline will usually hold a price guarantee. However, it is common for a large project with a longer timeline to include a clause that allows for some price increase in the event of a sizable market fluctuation.

Where do you get your steel?

RCM exclusively sources metals from a local steel mill. Locally sourcing gives us control over quality, supply and allows us to provide a more predictable customer experience.

Do you install?

RCM installs all of our custom builds. In some cases, we will provide installation for structures fabricated by another company. Some such instances may include: a project that a homeowner intended to be DIY but proved to be more complicated than expected, a structure built by another company that did not fit properly or meet compliance standards, or a job that was started by another company but they were unable to complete. If RCM is providing structural steel, a special team assigned to the overall build will install accordingly.

What is your service area?

RCM most commonly services the Quad Cities and surrounding areas to an approximate radius between Cedar Rapids, IA and Galesburg, IL. However, we accept jobs outside this service area radius on a case by case basis.

Can I get different finishes?

You can absolutely get a variety of finishes on your project. The most common finishes are powdercoat, clear coat, and galvanized steel. Your RCM estimation and design team will work with you to find the perfect finish for your job based on functionality, aesthetid and price.

What is galvanized steel?

Galvanized steel is steel that has undergone a special process to prevent rust. This process most commonly involves the addition of a zinc coating through the hot-dip method. Products that will be exposed to constant elements and/or require a decorative coating such as paint or powdercoat, may receive a thinner zinc application through electrogalvanization.

How long does it take to get an estimate for my project?

From initial consultation to delivered project estimate, RCM usually takes about one week. Estimate times vary depending on the project. A simple plasma-cut sign estimate may take only a matter of a day or two once material prices are verified. A more complicated residential or commercial estimate can take longer as they may require consultation with engineers or specialists to ensure the project meets job-specific codes and standards.