If you’ve ever gone shopping for screws, you’ll have hardly noticed the difference between a stainless and galvanised variant. After all, they look and function identically. To the DIY novice, there isn’t much need to read between the lines.
Your balustrading specialist will argue otherwise. Despite their indistinguishable appearance, both types of steel demonstrate different levels of strength, weight, and composition. To determine the proper use of both materials, you’ll need to know how to tell them apart.
- Galvanised: Hot-dipping involves dousing ordinary steel in a pool of molten zinc. Similarly, electro-dipping involves submerging the steel in an electrolyte solution that comprises zinc. Electrolysis works to create the coating.
- Stainless: The material is combined with chromium in its molten state, with ratios varying depending on the type of steel being produced. The mixture then cools hardening into a solid. The composite is treated with acid to eliminate impurities on its surface.
- Galvanised: Its zinc coating prevents corrosion and contains regular steel.
- Stainless: In its molten state, stainless steel runs through a blend of 10% or more of chromium. The concoction is of two separate materials joined together.
- Galvanised: It contains an outer layer of anti-rust coating that tends to wear away over time. Thus, galvanised steel is significantly weaker than its stainless counterpart.
- Stainless: The chromium is a protectant that prevents rusting over long periods.
- Galvanised: Typically, affordable.
- Stainless: Often costly.
- Galvanised: Due to its inferior strength and low-cost application, galvanised steel is ideal for smaller-budget installations. Still, it boasts an adequate ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and is comparably lighter than other metals. As such, you’ll find that galvanised steel is useful in the manufacturing of air conditioning equipment, the construction of pipes and fittings in residential properties, for the creation of metal roofs, and chain link fencing.
- Stainless: Stainless steel makes for a useful addition to big-budget projects that require heavy lifting and thicker components. Thus, it makes a regular appearance in skyscrapers, monuments, bridges, vehicles, railways, and aeroplanes.
- Galvanised: Galvanised steel functions best as a fastener, coated only with a thin layer of zinc. It’s a common addition to the production of nails, screws, bolts, and nuts and can handle a fair amount of water exposure—except saltwater.
- Stainless: Rust-resistant, stainless steel plays a significant role in construction. It is also water-tolerant, even in seawater, making it appropriate for marine environments. However, it won’t fare well in chlorine, which degrades the coating on the material and creates material. Thus, most will avoid stainless steel in pools, where friction can also cause two parts to weld together.
When is Galvanised Steel Useful?
Galvanised steel’s defining characteristic is its zinc coating, forming a protective barrier against moisture and oxygen, which causes rusting. Over time, rust will work away at unprotected steel, dwindling its integrity. Broken-down galvanised steel poses a safety hazard, whether incorporated into a purely functional application or as part of a customised facade.
The process of galvanising increases versatility and applies to various types of steel and metal. Hot-dip galvanisation creates a rigid and relatively thick coating for larger materials, whereas thermal diffusing is most appropriate for smaller pieces with an intricate design.
Galvanised steel boasts a unique appearance with a spangled or consistent finish. Spangles are irregular shapes that appear on the surface of the metal that demonstrates varying shades and reflectiveness. Depending on project objectives, spangling can make for a stunning addition to the overall design. Galvanised steel staircases, for instance, are an excellent way to introduce spangling into your residential or commercial design.
Despite the galvanisation process’ ability to protect against rust and corrosion, the barrier will eventually wear off, especially when exposed to saltwater or high levels of acidity. Thus, galvanised steel won’t fare well in areas with increased exposure to acid rain or in marine applications.
When is Stainless Steel Useful?
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, carbon, and chromium. Occasionally, it will contain other elements, such as molybdenum. Because stainless steel has a built-in defence against damage, it provides significant corrosion-resistance. It is easy to shape, craft, and finish into a variety of forms without the need for extra coating.
Different types of stainless steel come in a variety of compositions and resultant resistance to external factors. It is most useful in industrial applications that require protection against caustic chemicals, high temperatures, saltwater, or acidic landscapes.
Stainless steel is highly customisable and aesthetically flexible. Where design elements matter, stainless steel is the material of choice.
Which Material is Worth it?
More resistant to various forms of degradation, steel has overtaken iron in its role in anything from high-rise buildings to subtle design elements. Steel is malleable, easy to form and manipulate according to a building’s framework.
Making an informed and positive choice regarding the type of material to incorporate into your building project involves taking into account every part of its structure. Despite face-value similarities, foundational differences can make or break your construction project.
Steel is an alloy. Its base components are iron and carbon, which help to create lasting and durable metals for construction. As compared to other building materials, steel is of predictably high quality and easy to recycle. In conjunction with non-sparking tools, steel reduces the risk of explosions and other adverse outcomes under specific working conditions.
No universally accepted rule determines which type of steel makes for a superior addition to your project. What the selection comes down to are preference and application. Where galvanised steel falters, its stainless equivalent can take the reigns. For aesthetic and practical applications, steel is taking over as the material of choice.
At Aussie Balustrading and Stairs, we guarantee only the best in BCA balustrading. From stainless handrails in your Perth home to stunning screens, we pride ourselves in our ability to propose solutions for both indoor and outdoor applications. We stand on the principles of integrity, authenticity, and customer satisfaction, incorporating only the strongest of work ethics and top-class materials for your project.