Stainless Steel Grades: Selecting for Outdoor Applications

Stainless Steel GradesStainless steel has long been one of the most widely used materials in architecture, thanks to its extremely good corrosion resistance. Its impressive strength, workability and low maintenance requirements further increase its appeal. A building that uses stainless steel in its façade will look almost unchanged for many decades, assuming it is properly cared for.

But are you using the right grade of sheet steel for sale? Outdoor applications are incredibly demanding, and the different characteristics of various stainless steel grades will have a large impact. Some types are better suited for certain projects than others.

Factors like urban pollution, marine salt exposure, and climate can all heavily affect steel. Selecting the wrong grade probably won’t compromise the building’s structural integrity, but it will have a very noticeable effect on its aesthetics, and will likely increase maintenance costs.

The Importance of Knowing Steel Grades

An easy way to demonstrate how large the difference can be between two stainless steel grades is by comparing 304 and 316 steel. The first is the most commonly used type of stainless steel in the world, and is popular in kitchen applications. Yet it is vulnerable to corrosion in saline environments.

Meanwhile, 316 grade is very similar to 304 in structure, but possesses even better corrosion and heat resistance. This is why it is often utilized in industrial applications, such as in valves and pumps. Unlike 304, it is a perfectly suitable material for marine architecture.

Stainless steel isn’t just used in the city either. Rural and suburban environments also have unique requirements. The low populations, lack of pollution, and relatively obstructed lighting all factor into the performance of steel grades.

Whether you are buying sheet metal or pipes, it’s important to know what kind of stainless steel is right for your project. If there is any uncertainty, don’t hesitate to contact your supplier, or even consider hiring a stainless steel corrosion expert to give you a professional opinion.