Galvanized Steel vs. Stainless Steel

If you plan to build a house, it pays to know better about stainless steel or galvanized steel. Learn more about the differences between these two types of steel products. Which of these steel products can last longer? Which one is cheaper? These are some questions that you must know before building your home.

What is Galvanized Steel?

Galvanized steel is a metal sheet with a zinc oxide coating. The surface can withstand extreme conditions as zinc-oxide provides rust-proofing. Galvanized steel can last for years compared to non-galvanized steel.

Manufacturers use galvanized steel in producing corrosion-resistant pipes, ladders, bolts, nuts, nails, and railings. The zinc coating in steel is a cost-effective way of preserving the quality and durability of steel products.

Hot-dip galvanizing is the most popular method of galvanization, in which the steel and a hot bath of molten zinc coat the steel. This method makes the galvanized sheet last for several decades. Galvanized steel coils and galvanized steel strips are the most common products of the hot-dip galvanizing process.

Building structures that use galvanized steel have saved maintenance costs more than those using stainless or structural steel.

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel refers to steel or ferrous iron with a composition of 11 percent chromium content. Chromium protects the iron from corrosion. It also provides heat-resistant properties to the steel to withstand wear and tear.

There are different types of stainless steel with various designations according to their chemical compositions. Some stainless steel has less than 1.2 percent carbon and alloying elements and 10.5 percent chromium content.

Stainless steel’s anti-corrosive property may not be enough to protect the material from corrosion. Manufacturers add other chemical elements to the steel, such as titanium, manganese, silicon, carbon, or nickel, to strengthen corrosion resistance.

Galvanized Steel vs. Stainless Steel Strength

Galvanized steel has many uses in buildings and structures because it is easy to handle. It is malleable and easy to work with compared to stainless steel. Experts recommend to re-galvanize the galvanized steel after welding. Welding the galvanized steel may burn the zinc coating.

Heating and cooling the stainless steel needs the extra control. Stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion from water and saltwater than galvanized steel. Welders must be extra cautious when matching the stainless steel with filler materials during welding.

Welders should avoid a design that generates friction between two stainless steel products. It leads to the combination of the two stainless products. Stainless steel is heavier in weight than galvanized steel.

You can customize stainless steel into different forms and shapes. Stainless steel has many uses in household appliances, spare parts, display racks, railings, car parts, aviation parts, etc.

Galvanized Steel vs. Stainless Steel Corrosion Resistance

Galvanized steel is coated with zinc oxide, making it resistant to corrosion and extreme environmental condition. It can stand in water but may not be able to withstand saltwater.

Stainless steel may stand water and saltwater, but it becomes degraded when exposed to chlorine. The chlorine may tarnish the surface layer of stainless steel, which leads to rusting. When handling stainless steel in all applications, it should be away from products with chlorine content.

Both types of steel apply to all forms of applications. But when it comes to corrosion resistance, welders recommend stainless steel, especially when the building is close to the sea.

Galvanized Steel vs. Stainless Steel Cost

The price of stainless steel and galvanized steel depends on the cost of fuel, market supply, and demand. The untreated structural steel has similar costs to galvanized steel. However, stainless steel is pricier than its galvanized counterpart.

The cost of the manufacturing process of stainless steel contributes to its high price. Galvanized steel costs more than a few cents per pound compared to regular steel.

The price of stainless steel could be more than four to five times the cost of galvanized steel. Stainless steel’s minimum price is about three dollars per pound. Structural steel is 30 – 80 cents per pound.

The price does not matter if the quality of the steel can last several years. Galvanized steel may last for fifty years if the coating does not fade. Overall, the maintenance can be costly compared to stainless steel.

Galvanized Steel vs. Stainless Steel Weight

Galvanized steel and stainless steel have almost similar weights. Their weight may differ on the zinc coating thickness on the galvanized steel and the amount of alloy in stainless steel. The galvanized steel product’s weight becomes heavier than stainless steel if the zinc coating is thick.

Black steel may increase its weight by up to 15 percent depending on the type, size, length, steel properties, galvanizing temperature, and other factors. Stainless steel becomes heavier when it combines chromium and other metals.

In most cases, galvanized steel has a thin zinc oxide layer, making it lighter than stainless steel.

Can Stainless Steel be Galvanized?

Is there a possibility of galvanizing stainless steel? The answer is no. Although it could galvanize stainless steel, combined with any galvanized steel product is discouraged.

Stainless steel has high corrosion resistance, but if used together with galvanized steel may result in degradation. Corrosion hazards may arise if both steel materials are combined. It also depends on the type of galvanized material.

Hot dipped galvanized steel can stand corrosion compared to electro-polished galvanized steel. However, when exposed to marine or salty areas, hot-dipped galvanized steel may cause rusting when used with stainless steel.

Stainless steel or galvanized for outdoors?

Both galvanized and stainless steel is famous for outdoor uses. Both have different abilities to stand corrosion. But the chemical property of galvanized steel may deteriorate when exposed to the elements.

The zinc oxide may fade away due to prolonged exposure to the sun, which leads to rusting. Stainless steel has more resistance to rusting and corrosion due to its chemical composition. The tensile strength of stainless steel screws is higher than galvanized steel.

Stainless steel is ideal for outdoor use because of its high tensile strength. But galvanized steel can be useful for outdoor applications if the coating is not damaged. Hot dipped galvanized steel can last from 30 to a hundred years if properly maintained.

The zinc coating may last from 35 to 50 years in harshest soil and 75 years or more in less corrosive soil. Other factors may contribute to its deterioration, such as strong winds and extreme temperature.

Is stainless steel or galvanized more rust resistant?

Galvanization of steel and metal products offers surface protection. Galvanization uses electroplating to give passivation of the metal surface to the natural elements or substrate materials.

Corrosive substances do not penetrate the metal layers due to the zinc coating. Galvanized steel could last for years as long as the zinc coating remains on the surface.

Stainless steel is more resistant to rust due to its chromium content. It makes the steel heavier than galvanized steel. Some stainless steel has other alloy compositions, making it more resistant to rust.

Exposure to moisture, water, and saltwater may lead to corrosion and rusting of galvanized steel. Regular maintenance is vital to keep the quality and durability of steel materials.


Did you realize the difference between galvanized steel and stainless steel? Both steel product materials are corrosion resistant. Stainless steel can be expensive, but it can be cost-saving for long-term use. It can stand saltwater and moisture and has higher tensile strength than galvanized steel. If you are confused about which product to purchase, talk to your supplier for a quote.

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