Why Stainless Steel Can Rust, and What You Can Do About It
Stainless steel has excellent corrosion resistance, lustre, strength and durability. However, it is not stain or rust proof. Regular maintenance is required to keep stainless steel clean and free of contaminants. The last thing you’re after when installing brand new stainless steel balustrades is worrying about rust creeping in.
Why does stainless steel rust?
Stainless steel contains carbon, iron, and chromium, which is the main element in preventing rust. However, when normal steel is exposed to oxygen it forms ferric oxide, creating a red rust colour. If the chromium levels are below 12% the stainless steel can be attacked by oxygen. This causes your stainless steel to be ineffective. Scratches on the stainless steel can also expose the normal steel underneath, creating pesky rust.
What can you do about it?
1. Choose the correct surface finish
There are many different types of surface finish on stainless steel specifically formulated to keep corrosion and finger stains at bay. Some of these originate from the mill but many are applied later during processing. For example, EZRails offer polished, brushed, blasted, etched and coloured, anti-fingerprint, anti-bacteria self-cleaning finishes.
The importance of surface finishing in determining the corrosion resistance of the stainless steel surface cannot be overemphasised. A rough surface finish can effectively lower the corrosion resistance to that of a lower grade of stainless steel.
The European standards for stainless steels have attempted to define the most common surface finishes. However, due to the proprietary nature of many suppliers’ finishes, it is unlikely that complete standardisation is possible.
Satin finishing is usually achieved with SiC polishing belts. Alumina belts are strongly discouraged for this finish as this will have detrimental effects on corrosion resistance, which is recommended for external architectural and coastal environments where polish Finish is acceptable.
EZRails does not give any guarantee on the use of satin 180 grit finish (very course, rough finish) Due to its nature, it’s not suitable for balustrades and architectural use. There is no point in using 180 grit rough Stainless Steel finish with the understanding of material performance - 180 grit finish will rust and have high maintenance issues from the outset.
Also, read more on Environmentally Friendly Stainless Steel
2. Invest in a stainless steel cleaner
Specifically formulated to clean and maintain stainless steel, EZRails Stainless Steel Cleaner removes contaminants as well as surface rust, restoring corroded, damaged and unsightly stainless steel to its former bright and shiny finish (provided that the metal is not pitted).
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We at EZRails have our loyal customer’s interests at heart and offer best practices to ensure that your investment will be protected for years to come.
For more information, have a look at our comprehensive Surface Finishing options, offering corrosion and finger stain resistant properties.