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A CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO PURCHASING STAINLESS STEEL SHEETS

Sep. 09, 2022

STAINLESS STEEL SHEETS

Stainless steel sheet is highly versatile and used in a wide range of applications. It is primarily selected for its resistance to corrosion, longevity and form ability. Stainless steel plate and sheet differ in durability and thickness. Stainless steel sheets are thinner, usually 6mm or less, and used for lightweight residential and household applications. Stainless steel plates provide more tensile strength and are used in heavy-duty applications.


A CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO PURCHASING STAINLESS STEEL SHEETS

 

APPLICATIONS

Uses of stainless steel sheet include structural and construction applications, pressure vessels, offshore and marine equipment, telecommunication towers, military applications and general fabrication.

 

GRADES

Two of the most common grades of stainless steel are 304 and 316. 304 and 304L are the most popular grades for stainless steel sheets as they are cheaper, highly versatile, easily roll-formed or shaped and provide excellent corrosion resistance and weldability, while also maintaining their durability. For marine and coastal environments, grades 316 and 316L are often favoured due to their superior corrosion resistance and are particularly effective in acidic conditions.

The level of corrosion resistance, or what makes stainless steel stainless, is related to the amount of carbon and chromium used in the finished alloy. The corrosion resistance of the many grades of stainless steels stems from alloying the base iron with at least 10.5 % chromium and a maximum of .15% carbon. The chromium provides a passive film of chromium oxide that rises to the surface, coats the steel, and blocks corrosion from spreading into the metal’s internal structure. Therefore, increasing the amount of chromium gives an increased resistance to corrosion.

 

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET FINISHING MAKES THE DIFFERENCE

In addition to the many grades of stainless steel, the sheets come in a variety of finishes depending on the application that stainless steel is used for. The finishes are numbered or alpha-coded: 1, 2B, 2D, 2BA (or simply Bright Annealed) 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and TR for Temper Rolled. At Atlantic Stainless, stainless steel sheets come in both a standard 2B finish and various polished finishes. Polished surfaces range from the standard #4 to a mirrored finish #8 and are usually covered with a removable vinyl coating.

The #4 “Brushed” finish is the most common. Easily recognizable, you’ll find the finish on nearly all stainless steel appliances. The brushed look has a bright finish and is characterized by short, uniform, parallel polished lines, with a visible directional “grain.” It is designed for daily use and to hide scuff marks, fingerprints, scratches, and etcetera.

The #8 mirror-like finish has the most reflective, highly polished surface of any stainless steel. The finish is arrived at by polishing with successively finer abrasives and then buffing extensively until all grit lines from preliminary grinding operations are removed.

Finally, stainless steel sheet is typically sold in the annealed condition. Meaning, when stainless steel is annealed, it must be heated to a temperature below its melting point, then cooled slowly in order to make it less brittle and more malleable. That way it brings the sheets to a desired consistency, texture, or hardness.


As stainless steel sheet suppliers, we offer a wide selection of grades, cuts, sizes, and finishes that can be customized for the job at hand. If you can't find the size or grade you're looking for, feel free to contact us for assistance.

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