Stainless Steel vs. Galvanized Steel

29 Oct.,2022


Galvanized Steel

This blog was originally posted on 7/20/17 and reviewed on 3/16/21.

Outdoor work environments are subject to ever-changing elements. Fall protection systems can become vulnerable when they aren’t manufactured with the proper materials that will withstand everything nature has to throw at it. Galvanized and stainless steel are the best prospects for your system’s defense against corrosion.

Galvanized Steel: Dipped for Defense

Galvanized steel is created by dipping standard steel into molten zinc by a process called hot dipping. The layer of zinc serves as a protectant from corrosion. The protectant makes galvanized steel the best option, over untreated carbon steel, for worksites that are exposed to acid rain, road salt, and sea water. It’s important to note that galvanized steel typically has a rough surface and can vary in color. There is no uniform finish for this type of steel.

Galvanized steel is ideal for marine environments because it adds a protective layer over the carbon steel. Standard carbon steel is made up of iron and other metals, and the iron will react with saltwater, resulting in rust. The zinc layer on galvanized steel prevents this reaction. Worksites within five miles of a saltwater coast should only use galvanized steel.

A downfall for this defensive measure is that the protective layer can be corroded, or fade over time due to the zinc sacrificing itself to protect the base metal. Compared to stainless steel, this fading means that utilizing this type of steel may require more upkeep over a long period of time, depending on the environment. However, because stainless steel is made up of a mixture of metals that prevent corrosion, it is more expensive. Galvanized steel is simply a protective coating applied to carbon steel, which makes it more economical.

Stainless Steel: Built to Last

The main benefit of utilizing stainless steel tools and equipment is the corrosion durability. While you may find yourself having to pay a little more to acquire this type of steel, the trade-in pays for itself with longevity. When exposed to outdoor conditions, like rain, sleet, or snow, most metals begin to show rust and start to deteriorate. However, there is a reason stainless steel is called stainless; thanks to the composition of the steel, made up of iron, chromium, manganese, silicon, nickel, molybdenum, and only very small amounts of carbon, rust is essentially undetectable on the steel. The combination of elements forms a film when in contact with the oxygen. This film acts as a barrier that prevents corrosion and shows less wear on the material, which makes the steel stainless.  

Stainless steel is utilized in a multitude of industries because of its clean and smooth finish. Exclusively used in the culinary and pharmaceutical industries for it’s easy to polish finish, stainless steel is better in terms of surface appeal over galvanized steel, which can flake and peel.  

The compounds that make up stainless steel allow it to last for decades, so long as there is no exposure to salt. The lack of rust allows for a smooth surface continually throughout the years while other metals that eventually rust develop a rough surface. Ultimately, the choice of stainless steel has a great payout in the long run. The durability prevents having to replace equipment or excessive maintenance.

Strong as Steel

In terms of strength, steel that has been galvanized and stainless steel are both strong options. However, carbon steel is generally 40 percent stronger. The use of additional components of stainless steel means that it takes more material to achieve the same strength as standard carbon steel.

Protection is Worth the Extra Money

Corrosion is the burden of any outdoor worksite. Utilizing materials that repel rust is worth the extra money in the long run. Stainless and galvanized steel are the best options for their durability and strength.

When it comes to fall protection, the best is always expected. Rigid Lifelines Fall Arrest Systems are engineered and tested for OSHA requirements and other safety protocols. Whether it’s for indoor or outdoor use, Rigid Lifelines will ensure a safer work environment. The safety that our fall protection systems provide is enhanced by the quality of production. This quality in all applications is why we offer both stainless steel and galvanized steel for strength and dependability.