As an architect, contractor, fabricator, engineer or homeowner, finding reliable suppliers for project materials is likely one of your most important considerations. Staying within budget to remain competitively priced or pass on savings to your clients is probably at the top of your consideration list as well. At the same time, making sure you’re getting quality, timely materials from a supplier you can trust is critical. Considering all of these factors, the best options for buying Expanded Metal are:
- Metal Service Centers
- Hardware Stores
Benefits of Expanded Metal
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve seen Expanded Metal before; it often makes up enclosures for protection or security, catwalks for billboards, outdoor benches, and other applications where a lightweight, yet durable metal is needed. Expanded Metal has a mesh-like pattern composed of diamond-shaped openings.
This material is made from a single sheet of metal that has been sliced and then stretched to form the pattern you see below. Expanded Metal comes in two styles; Standard (Raised) Expanded Metal and Flattened Expanded Metal. It also comes in multiple material types including aluminum, carbon steel, galvanized steel and stainless steel. It has numerous gauges, opening sizes and sheet sizes, ensuring that it will fit your project needs.
One thing to keep in mind when buying Expanded Metal is that it is non-load bearing except in products with particular gauges and construction types. Load bearing Expanded Metal products include Expanded Metal Grating and Catwalk Grating. Even with the load-bearing product variants, it is only meant for pedestrian traffic. You can read more about Expanded Metal’s load-bearing properties here.
One of the primary benefits of Expanded Metal is that it’s a cost-effective alternative to Perforated Metal. Part of the reason it’s more economical is that there is no wasted material that results from the production process. It’s also highly flexible, which makes it well-suited to function when it needs to be formed and cut into custom shapes.
Where can you buy Expanded Metal?
Metals Service Centers
You will find the largest selection and inventory at a specialty metals supplier in your area. Similar to lumber stores, Metals Service Centers offer just about everything you need for your metal fabrication needs. Finding a location near you is important as metal products can sometimes be pretty heavy, sharp or challenging to handle on your own.
Shipping across country or over several states can add up, but a supplier with more than just a couple locations and with a strong footprint will greatly help reduce transit time and expenses. Delivery is always an option for your order, but pick up can be a great route to get your items faster while saving on shipping costs.
In addition to having plenty of inventory to meet your specifications, these locations often include metal processing equipment to cut Expanded Metal to size or support with other value-added services like welding or finishing.
Of course, one of the most popular places to buy Expanded Metal is online. This can be a fantastic option if you need access to more sizes, patterns or materials. And if you live in a rural area, buying online can be a good option since you may not have any suppliers nearby.
If you plan to buy Expanded Metal online, make sure you do your homework first. Check that the company you’re buying from is reputable and has excellent customer reviews. You may also need to talk to them about delivery methods, costs and time.
Another possibility is to request samples of the products that you’re considering to get the exact product to complete your project. It can be extremely beneficial for you to get your hands on products that are newer to you!
Some hardware stores or farm supply stores carry smaller quantities of Expanded Metal. Big-box stores sometimes have a small section with this material. These purchases can also be a great opportunity to support your local hardware and bulk supply stores.
Check your area to see if there are any metal suppliers who offer Expanded Metal. Not only might you find something nearby, but you’ll also support another small business owner and contribute more to your local community.
Additional Considerations when Buying Expanded Metal
Many of the projects that you may be working on require additional services in addition to simply supplying the building material. When purchasing Expanded Metal, look for a company that offers value-added services that can make completing your project much more streamlined. Fabrication services such as cutting-to-size, welding, stair treads, and infill panels can ensure your project gets completed on time as you focus on other details.
Expanded Metal Accessories
There’s nothing worse than purchasing material for a big project and realizing you need accessories to complete the final steps of the build. Choose a company that offers the Expanded Metal accessories you need to complete your project. Common accessories for this material type are fasteners and U-edging.
Specifying and Ordering Expanded Metal
Once you’ve determined the Expanded Metal that best fits your project’s needs, it’s time to specify and order the product. With the numerous options and variations of Expanded Metal, it can be difficult to get the exact product for your needs if you’ve never ordered before. In that case, speaking with product experts at the time of placing your order is the way to go. If you have any questions at all, be sure you speak with Expanded Metal experts before purchasing.
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Expanded Metal is an excellent building material for everything from window security panels to air conditioner vents. If you have a local supplier in your area who sells it, consider supporting them. But if you live somewhere more rural, require expert knowledge, or need large quantities, quoting or buying online can be an amazing way to get the material you need. If you’re social media savvy, take a few minutes to check out suppliers’ social feeds to see prior projects and get inspiration for yours.
If you’d like to buy Expanded Metal, check out the rest of our site at mcnichols.com. We are the leading supplier of specialty metals and fiberglass, including Expanded Metal. We have thousands of specialty metals in stock and ready to deliver from our 19 U.S. locations. We are Inspired to Serve® and invite you to shop our products today!