Understanding the Difference Between Galvanized and Stainless Steel

Posted by Ken Brakefield

Topics: Steel

HPIM0587.jpgBecause stainless and galvanized steel have a similar look, they are often mistaken for each other. But the two types of steel are markedly different in terms of strength, weight and composition. In order to find proper use for each type of steel, you need to be able to tell the two apart, as both are used for different applications.

Differentiating Between the Two

Here are some points of difference between the two steel types that can be used to tell them apart:

1. Preparation

For creating galvanized steel, ordinary steel is dipped in a pool of molten zinc.  This is known as hot-dipping. Another method used for creating the coating in many cases is electro-dipping, which is a process in which the steel is dipped in an electrolyte solution containing zinc and makes use of electrolysis to create the coating.  

For creating Stainless steel, ordinary steel is mixed with chromium when both are in their molten state in various ratios depending upon the type of stainless steel being prepared. Once the mixture is allowed to cool, it hardens into its solid state, at which point the composite is treated with an acid in order to remove any impurities that might be sticking to the surface.

2. Composition

Galvanized steel is prepared by adding a layer of zinc coating to its surface to prevent corrosion, while stainless steel is mixed with ten percent or more of chromium in its molten state. This means galvanized steel contains regular steel which is covered by zinc, while stainless steel is made up of two separate metals mixed thoroughly together.  

3. Strength

Galvanized steel is significantly weaker than stainless steel. Because galvanized steel contains only an outer layer of anti-rust coating that wears away over time, it does not provide protection against rusting for as long a period as stainless steel, which contains a protective mixture of chromium to help prevent rusting.   

4. Pricing

Galvanized steel is more affordable than stainless steel.

5. Uses

Galvanized steel, due to its weaker strength and cheaper price, is used for smaller-budget projects, in general, than stainless steel. Galvanized steel finds extensive used in the construction of pipes and fittings in houses. It is also used in the manufacturing of air-conditioning equipment, creating metal roofs for houses, and chain link fencing. There are a range of products made of galvanized steel which make use of its ability to resist rusting, withstand the damage done by harsh weather and being stronger and lighter than many other metals.   

Stainless steel, due to being more expensive and also stronger, is used for big budget projects which require lots of heavy lifting or thick components. Thus, stainless steel finds use in the building of skyscrapers, bridges, monuments and sculptures, cars, railways, airplanes and many other high-end products.

As we can see, the two types of steel are quite different from one another, and each carry their own set of advantages that make them uniquely suited to a diverse range of applications.

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Topics: Steel