The choice of metal for a given product may be limited by the manufacturer’s available selections. Cost may be a factor in choosing metal products. For instance, aluminum that is die cast into large shapes is often less expensive than cast iron or other metals. Smaller shapes of aluminum may be more expensive than other metals. Steel is less expensive than cast iron for builders’ hardware. Although the cost of metals is subject to fluctuation, a 2011 comparison of metals of similar thicknesses without specialty finishes indicated that the most expensive metal was copper, followed by stainless steel, zinc, aluminum, and galvanized steel. When used for builders’ hardware, steel is stronger than iron at a lower cost. Cast aluminum hardware is a less expensive alternative for cast iron.
All metals are durable, but metals made of cast or wrought iron with appropriate finishes, as well as objects made of solid materials such as brass with chrome plating, will have the longest life.
Since metal is used throughout an interior space, the interior designer must make a series of interrelated decisions when choosing metal products for a project. Good attention to detail means coordinating the appearance of all metal products and components of an interior, so selecting metals for their consistent appearance (aesthetics) as well as their functional performance should guide decision making.
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The need for slip resistance makes metal floors impractical in most situations; therefore, metal is rarely used as a flooring material. Industrial diamond pattern steel sheets are sometimes found in floors of industrial buildings and may be reused in designing new spaces within older industrial buildings. Metal grating used for industrial stair treads may also be used on landings and adjacent surfaces.
Some manufacturing facilities or scientific research laboratories require environments that control contaminants as much as possible. These controlled environments are called cleanrooms and sometimes they require seamless metal floors, which is an expensive solution due to the skilled labor involved in installation.
Metal sheathing and conduit for electrical wiring visible interface between mechanical and electrical supply and the interior:
Walls may be clad in metal for protective durability, or to take advantage of the magnetic properties of metal. Decorative metal panels may be used as a feature wall. Metal panels used on the exterior of a building are often continued into the lobby or other interior spaces to create a cohesive transition from the exterior to the interior. Types of metal panels that may be used on both the interior and the exterior include a composite material that sandwiches a layer of polyethylene plastic or nonaluminum core between two sheets of aluminum, or between various sheet metals. Panels generally used for ceilings, such as pressed tin or linear ceiling tiles, can also be applied to walls. Also, light shelves or interior shading devices of metal may be attached to walls to either reflect light further into the interior space or to screen and control the amount of light and heat entering the space.
Galvanized metal panels may be applied in conference areas and used as magnet boards. Perforated metal backed with fabric-covered tackable material allows attaching through the perforations or attaching items with magnets.