Choosing a suitable material for your next project depends on what you want to achieve. To be diplomatic and sit on the metal fence, there is no right or wrong choice but some materials are more appropriate than others.
It’s important to consider cost, strength, durability and the effect of corrosion. For example, aluminium is commonly used in architecture due it’s resistance to corrosion and versatility, while stainless steel doesn’t chip or crack easily, so it’s perfect for cookware.
In this blog, we explain four factors to consider before you start your next project and how to make the most of your metal.
1. A question of corrosion
The effect the elements have on aluminium and stainless steel, both indoors and outdoors, plays a large part in which material you choose. The good news is that both materials have good corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is made up of several elements including nickel, copper and manganese. Chromium is also added to provide corrosion resistance.
Aluminium, especially when untreated, has very good corrosion resistance. It has a thin but effective protective layer that blocks oxidation and prevents serious corrosion. Stainless steel also has an effective protective layer which it’s perhaps better known for.
The fact that both materials have good resistance to corrosive elements makes them ideal for architecture. However, aluminium is the more commonly used material. Approximately 25% of all aluminium produced worldwide is used in construction.
2. Temperature and conductivity
How both materials handle temperatures and conduct heat and electricity could determine their suitability for your project. Aluminium is widely used in radiators, heaters and air conditioning units because it conducts heat better than stainless steel. It’s also a very effective conductor of electricity due to its lightweight design, while stainless steel is a renowned for being a poor conductor.
However, stainless steel does handle the heat far better and can be used at much higher temperatures, compared to aluminium which can become very soft.
3. Strength and weight
The strength of both materials directly relates to their weight. The strength also plays a big part in durability and how easy each material is to work with and shape. Typically, aluminium is not as strong as stainless steel and it weighs much less. This has a direct impact on its uses too. For example, weight is a huge consideration in aircraft construction, so aluminium is more commonly used. Stainless steel is obviously a lot stronger and much harder to mould and form into different shapes as a result.
4. Cost considerations
There’s not much science involved here but it’s a huge factor to consider with any project – large or small. Aluminium is typically cheaper than stainless steel, however price considerations may be less important depending on what you want to achieve.
Hopefully, we’ve proven that despite their similar appearance, aluminium and stainless steel are very different. Let one of our experts help you decide which is more suitable – contact us today!