Stainless Steel Benefits:
Economic--requires less maintenance and replacement
Environmental--stainless steel is 100% recyclable and doesn't require a potentially polluting surface coating
Aesthetic--maintains a classic, attractive, sleek, and bright appearance
Temperature--from high to subzero, stainless steel maintains its properties, strength, and effectiveness
Safe--stainless steel is not hazardous to health
What's in it?
- and in some cases nickel and molybdenum
Chromium is key in bonding with these to create a protective surface film. 10.5% chromium is required to be considered stainless steel. The surface barrier created blocks water and oxygen from getting underneath, which in turn facilitates the protection of its iron foundation and enables its notable stain resistance. A few atomic layers of this barrier is enough to maintain the whole--we're talkin' a wavelength of light in thickness--so extremely thin and visually undetectable without significant magnification.
Famously, the top of the Chrysler Building uses stainless steel.
Two Main Classifications
Type 304--most common, with great corrosion resistance; affordable, appropriate to household appliances, and forms well. 304 has more chromium than 316.
Type 316 (Marine Grade)--the presence of molybdenum increases anti-corrosion capacity and high heat stability. This takes things up a notch and is crucial for marine environments, refineries, and medical devices. It is used in situations where extreme hardness is required. Fence or mesh used in a coastal or saltwater environment requires 316, also in areas of air pollution, deicing salt, and volcanic activity. 316 also contains more nickel than 304--nickel enhances the strength, sustainability, and high-temperature properties of stainless steel.
- The difference between 304 and 316 is not detectable with the naked eye
- A material test report is something to look for when buying and questioning the grade of stainless steel
- If you live within three miles from the coast, consider 316 for outdoor applications
When thinking about a fence, the main reason to go stainless is for long life. It repels corrosion and the toughness of stainless steel offsets the initial cost promising less repair and replacement. Unsightly rust is eliminated or substantially delayed. Its properties are indispensable in keeping a business or residence looking sharp and its longevity doesn't waste resources.
In the long run, stainless steel is an economical choice. Seemingly more expensive at the outset; however, its consistency, service, and longevity make it an excellent buy.