Stainless steel hardware is the right choice for equipment that will be exposed to harsh conditions where corrosion is a concern. Contrary to popular belief stainless steel hardware is not any stronger than other steel, but it does provide superior resistance to rust, staining and corrosion. When looking for stainless steel hardware and fasteners to fight corrosion resulting from exposure to fresh or salt water, or exposure to chemicals, even in the food industry, stainless steel fasteners such as nuts, bolts, screws, washers and pop rivets should be your first choice.
Stainless steel hardware comes in many different grades. The two most commonly used grades are 304 and 316, with 316 being more corrosion resistant than 304. The rule-of-thumb is that if the stainless steel hardware is in a corrosive environment 316 is preferable, particularly if the fastener is visible, as 316 is less likely to “tea-stain” or develop a brown discoloration that can be cosmetically unattractive.
The smoother or more polished the finish, the better the corrosion resistance for stainless steel hardware anywhere environmental conditions warrant it. Some stainless products have a brushed, satin or rougher finish, often popular for hinges, fittings, and downpipes. This type of finish can trap minute particles, such as salt, which can damage the protective chromium oxide layer on the stainless steel hardware, causing the aforementioned “tea-staining”, giving a rusty appearance. This is made worse if the stainless steel is not exposed to rainwater to wash off the particles.
We recommend that all stainless steel hardware threads be lubricated before assembly to reduce the risk of the threads locking up – a condition known as galling. We have found the most risk of galling is with larger stainless steel fastener threads (M16 upwards), and also when using Nyloc nuts.
To learn more about stainless steel hardware contact the experts in stainless steel fasteners here at Electronic Fasteners. We’ve got an excellent inventory of stainless steel fasteners for commercial, military, medical, and food industry applications, to name just a few.