Choosing Between Mild Steel and Stainless Steel Finishes for Your Property
Steel is a common material used worldwide throughout the construction of many architectural fabrications. The metal can be divided into different variations, with mild and stainless steel as two of the most popular choices.
So, what exactly is the difference between mild steel and stainless steel?
Stainless and mild steel have many characteristics that set them apart. The properties that vary the most between these steel types are strength, ductility, hardness, varying aesthetics, and cost.
Selecting the right steel type for your balustrades or staircases will impact the cost and the execution of your design vision for your project.
To help guide you in steel selection, we break down the difference between mild steel and stainless steel in the below article.
The Composition: Stainless vs. Mild Steel
Mild steel, sometimes referred to as low-carbon steel, has no more than 0.25% carbon. This makes it less brittle than stainless steel.
On the other hand, stainless steel is an alloy with a minimum of 11% chromium content. It does not stain, corrode or rust as easily as ordinary steel but it is not stain-proof. It’s also called corrosion-resistant steel based on its different alloy types and grades.
The difference between mild steel and stainless steel is that stainless steel is alloyed with chromium, nickel, molybdenum and other elements to improve its mechanical and chemical properties. As a result, it’s less malleable and harder than mild steel.
Strength and Toughness
Stainless steel is stronger than mild steel because of the chromium in its composition. That’s why it’s used to create and design objects that can withstand impactful force and frequent usage. It is more resistant to high temperatures than mild steel, so it can maintain its strength in fire or high heat.
Mild steel’s strength is fairly lower but can be strengthened by carbon addition.
Toughness is the steel’s ability to absorb energy and deform plastically before fracture. Stainless steel is tougher than mild steel because of its higher carbon content.
Maintenance and Durability
Stainless steel is more durable than mild steel because it’s resistant to rust and extreme weather conditions. This makes stainless steel easy to maintain and clean. The smooth and shiny texture prevents dirt from easily sticking to its surface.
Keep in mind that polishing stainless steel one to four times a year makes it shinier. Stainless steel makes good kitchenware and balustrades because it’s easy to clean — a simple swab with a microfiber cloth is enough to get the stains off.
As much as mild steel is budget-friendly, it can be high maintenance. It needs to be painted often, depending on how fast the paint fades or peels off. Without paint, it can take two to four days for it to rust, especially in extreme weather conditions. Expensive finishes can however reduce the likelihood of rust.
With upkeep costs or pricey finishes like powder coating, it can be argued that mild steel is not that much more affordable than stainless steel in the end. So, it is smart to pick the kind of steel based off of the aesthetic you most desire.
A stainless steel staircase or balustrade offers an attractive shiny, clean, silver-white look that is perfect for spaces that need a modern touch. This is also a favourite in commercial or public spaces that have high foot traffic.
Mild steel has an understated look that is a touch homier. It adds a warm and rustic look to a home. It also allows for more room to customise your final look as you can choose your colour or finish.
At Steel Studio, we feel that both kinds of steel will deliver where beauty is concerned. We make sure of it. It all comes down to your preferred aesthetic.
Stainless steel is known to be pricey in comparison to mild steel. Polishing and finishing stainless steel come at a cost. However, a stainless steel product is an investment, even if you pay a higher cost upfront. You enjoy its features for longer than mild steel and with less maintenance. Making it the best option economically and financially.
Mild steel can be much more affordable than stainless steel material. However, if the design is top of mind, you may end up with a more expensive mild steel system due to the labour component to achieve certain design finishes.
It’s important to request a quote for comparison if you’re considering an alternative design in mild steel.
To sum up; while stainless steel is generally more expensive, it requires less maintenance and generally lasts much longer.
The Steel Studio Recommendation
Mild steel and stainless steel are different, and both are useful in the different roles served in your home. The powder coating in mild steel products might be artistically pleasing and trending currently but can also be challenging to install.
Each steel has its limitations, but stainless steel is a classic. With low maintenance and an eco-friendly footprint (as it is recyclable), this is the option we will always put forward.