Carbon Steel Vs Stainless Steel – What’s the Difference?

By superadmin on December 14, 2020 in Blog

When it comes to choosing steel for your project, it is important to know the difference between the various types. The two most common types of steel are carbon and stainless steel, with each possessing unique qualities. In this blog, Mascot Steel will be taking a look at these two popular types of steel so that you can make an informed decision and get the right steel for the job.


Common Uses for Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the most commonly used form of steel, being seen in everything from kitchens through to operating theatres, home appliances, automotive components, utensils and much more. It is favoured because it does not oxidize or rust, whereas some types of steel and iron can. Stainless steel also offers aesthetic appeal due to its shiny (or matte) appearance, which is why it is so widely used as an architectural element in restaurants, hospitals and other public buildings.

Carbon steel is not as widely used, but if your application requires a strong grade of steel which is also harder than stainless steel then it would be an ideal choice. Perhaps the most common use for carbon steel is in precision instruments such as knives, which require sharpening from time to time and are expected to provide many years of reliable performance. Whilst carbon steel is very strong, it is prone to oxidisation due to moisture. Compared to stainless steel, it is also less ductile and not as easy to mould.


Key Differences to Consider

Now that you know about some of the common applications for each type of steel, you will also want to consider the following before making your final decision.

  1. Appearance

If aesthetic appeal is important to your brief, you will likely want to go for stainless steel which has a glossier appearance. There are a wide range of stainless steel grades to choose from, and you can choose from a range of surface finishes with the three most common being matte, brushed and mirror finish.

If you’re after a more dull, matte appearance then carbon steel would be the best choice. It too can be sanded and polished in order to bring out a shinier appearance, but keep in mind that it will need to be painted or clear coated as soon as possible as it can tarnish and rust easily.

  1. Cost Considerations

All projects have a budget, and it is important to use your money wisely. The cost of steel various according to the grade you choose to use, but in general stainless steel is more expensive than carbon steel. The additional cost is mainly due to the additional alloying elements found in stainless steel such as chromium and nickel. Carbon steel is a good option for those on a tighter budget as it makes use of more affordable iron and carbon elements.

  1. Ductility and Tensile Strength

Generally, stainless steels are more ductile than carbon steels as they contain more nickel. However, if you opt for martensitic grades, they can be very brittle. If strength and ductility is important, then it’s probably best to opt for stainless steel over carbon steel.

  1. Corrosion Resistance

This is perhaps the most important consideration of all, and stainless steel is by far the most corrosion resistant. Both types of steel can still rust in moist environmental conditions, but the added chromium in stainless steel adds an additional layer of protection against degradation and corrosion. Carbon steel must be clear coated or painted to prevent corrosion.


Need a Steel Fabricator in Sydney? Mascot Steel Have You Covered

Are you about to embark on a project and searching for a trusted Penrith and Mascot steel fabricator serving Sydney and surrounds? Mascot Steel have you covered. Give us a call today on (02) 9313 1313 for an obligation free quote.