Aluminum versus Stainless Steel

Many people in the restaurant industry or the booming food-truck industry are constantly wondering what kind of material to use for the countertops, or backsplash…aluminum or stainless steel. Each material has its strong points, but it all comes down to how you are using the material.

Stainless steel is made using a combination of nickel, magnesium, chromium copper and iron. The chromium within stainless steel is what makes stainless steel corrosion resistant. This allows for a non-porous and non-corrosive material that is extremely resistant to rest. The common misconception with stainless steel is that it is impermeable to rust. Because the chromium oxide coating on the exterior of stainless steel is what makes it rust resistant, if the surface is scratched, it can rust. That being said, the chances of stainless steel rusting is much lower than mild steel. The most common type of stainless steel is 304 series, which is used for kitchen sinks, food processing equipment and steam table pans. 304 stainless steel resists corrosion very well.

Aluminum has a higher oxidation and corrosion resistance than stainless steel. Aluminum is extremely lightweight, whereas stainless steel is very heavy. Along with being lightweight, it is very strong, making it a great material to use for structural components and equipment in the kitchen. Aluminum is also a great conductor of heat, which makes it the perfect material where good heat conductivity is needed. From a price point, aluminum is also cheaper than stainless steel. The downfall to aluminum is that it is much harder to form and will often crack under the press, making it a difficult product to use for counter tops.

Both materials need special preparation for fabrication. TIG welding is the best process for fabricating with aluminum while welding on stainless requires special wire. Working with stainless steel can be very difficult which causes the price to rise, while working with aluminum, mainly TIG welding with aluminum, takes longer than standard welding and therefore costs more. Keep these in mind the next time you are planning a project.

In the ends, each material has its pros and cons. Stainless steel is stronger, while aluminum is lighter. Aluminum conducts heat much better than stainless steel, while stainless steel is less reactive with food. Aluminum is cheaper and easier to clean, but stainless can be formed into shapes. No matter what the need, email (hyperlink) us today to find out if we can help you with your next project.

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