Metal Fabrication: Should You Choose Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel for Your Project?

Selecting the right type of steel for a project is one of the critical decisions that you have to make during metal fabrication. Stainless steel and carbon steel are the two common types of steel that are used in metal applications. Before determining the right metal grade, you need to choose the type of steel that will be appropriate for your project. Here is a detailed comparison between these two types of steel metal that will help you decide the best one for your project.

Resistance to corrosion

Both stainless steel and carbon steel contain iron, and this makes them prone to corrosion as iron oxidizes when exposed to air. However, these metals have varying levels of corrosion resistance, and you should go for the one that is more corrosion resistant. In this case, stainless steel takes the upper hand as it is more resistant to corrosion than carbon steel.

Stainless steel contains chromium, which has a higher affinity for oxygen than iron. For this reason, chromium readily combines with oxygen when exposed to the air and creates a chromium oxide layer which protects the metal against rust. Carbon steel doesn't have enough chromium to protect it from corrosion; hence, it is more prone to rust and degradation.

Aesthetic appeal

If your project requires using a metal that will deliver in aesthetics, you need to consider its appearance before making a choice. Although the metal may be finished using various techniques such as sanding, polishing, painting, and powder coating, it is essential to determine how well the metal will maintain its appearance after a few years. Stainless steel can be polished or sanded to give it a shiny look without necessarily using a coat of paint. On the other hand, carbon steel requires a coat of paint after polishing as it may tarnish or rust after exposure to the environment.

Regarding durability, stainless steel can retain its aesthetic appeal for a longer period as compared to carbon steel. If the metal coat of paint is scratched, the metal will still maintain its luster. However, if carbon steel is scratched, it should be repainted to protect it from rusting. If you choose carbon steel, go for durable and scratch resistant finishing techniques such as powder coating as opposed to liquid paint.

Cost factor

When selecting the right type of steel, you want to go for the metal that will suit your budget. The various grades of steel have different costs; however, stainless steel grades are more expensive that carbon steel grades. When choosing the steel type against its cost, always have other factors such as its appearance and corrosion resistance in mind as well. It is worth investing in quality steel that will not degrade after a short time.