There are many grades of stainless steel available to manufacture products like balustrades from. Unfortunately, some categories are just not fit for ensuring a safe and long lasting product. If you’re at the coast, here’s what you need to know about the stainless steel grade for your balustrades
A client living at the coast asked Steel Studio a question regarding the grade of stainless steel. His problem was, what grade of stainless steel is the correct grade for balustrades at the coast? He lives within 3km from the coastline, and his builder told him that he needs grade 316 stainless steel for his balustrades. Grade 316 is obviously more expensive than the standard grade 304 that is used for more inland applications, and the client would have to fork out considerably more for his balustrade system.
The differences between grade 304 and grade 316
The differences between these two grades are that you generally have a brushed material in grade 304 and a mirror polished finish with grade 316, however, that’s not all. In the conversation Daniel has with Relco in the above video, Daniel shows the difference between the two grades. Besides the elements that make up the various grades to ensure their non-corrosive properties, stainless Steel grade 316 mirror polish is a much smoother surface, whereas grade 304 is a brushed surface and has grooves in the surface, allowing contaminants to collect in the grooves and over time cause discolouration to the stainless steel if not maintained correctly. These grooves in the brushed grade 304 become a problem when the salt and contaminants in the coastal air, collect in the grooves and over time causes discolouration to the stainless steel. This discolouration could over time become very difficult to clean off and could lead to deterioration of the material and the balustrade system as a whole. Grade 316 mirror polished stainless steel has a smoother surface and with the right amount of maintenance, will not discolour like the grade 304 as it doesn’t have distinctive grooves that contaminants may collect in.
Your distance from the coastline dictates the grade of stainless steel
You have to look at your proximity to the coastline to know if you require grade 316 stainless steel for your balustrade application. The general rule of thumb is that if you are further than 4km from the coastline, you could consider looking at grade 304 which is also cheaper than 316. Otherwise, you should definitely go with 316 within 4km from the shoreline. It also needs to be noted whether the material requirement is for an internal or an external application. If you’re in an airconditioned building and the installation is internal, you can still get away with using grade 304 for the balustrade application as the balustrades are not exposed to the external coastal elements. However, if the application is external, you definitely need to go with 316. If you still decide to go with grade 304, your balustrades are not going to last very long. They will discolour and deteriorate, leaving you with a potentially unsafe balustrade system.
What does stainless steel grade 316 cost compared to grade 304
There is obviously a cost saving if you are able to go with grade 304 stainless steel, but is not advisable for external use closer than 4km from the coastline. Stainless steel grade 316 mirror polished is more expensive than grade 304 brushed, but will ensure that you are left with a balustrade system that is safe and lasts longer.
For more information on our grade 304 and grade 316, stainless steel balustrade designs visit our web page https://www.steelstudio.co.za/stainless-steel-balustrades/ or call us on 011-608-1963 to talk to one of our qualified sales executives for a no-obligation site inspection and quote.