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Carbon Steel vs. Stainless-Steel Wire Mesh – What’s the Difference?

18 February 2020 0 Comments

If you need wire mesh for fencing or containment purposes, you have a lot of choices in finding the perfect mesh for your needs.  One of the most important decisions to make is what type of metal will be used.  Most of the time, you’ll be looking at either carbon steel or stainless-steel wire mesh.

What’s the difference?  It boils down to the differences between carbon steel and stainless steel.  Here’s a quick breakdown.

Understanding the Differences Between Carbon Steel & Stainless-Steel Wire Mesh

From a physical standpoint, the two products are quite similar.  Steel is, of course, primarily an alloy of iron and carbon.  Stainless steel also includes chromium, whereas carbon steel has an overall higher percentage of carbon in its makeup.  This leads to several major differences.

1. Corrosion Resistance

The purpose of the chromium in stainless steel is to increase its resistance to corrosion.  The iron in steel will always be susceptible to oxidation – rusting – but the chromium creates an outer layer that helps capture oxygen before it reaches the iron.  This turns into a layer of chromium oxide, which is harmless.  

Carbon steel has very little resistance to rust, so it needs to either be kept out of the elements or independently coated in something to add resistance.

2. Strength

Discussing the tensile strength of these products is a bit tricky because there are many different grades available.  As a broad generalization, stainless steel tends to be a bit softer and easier to work with than carbon steel, while carbon steel tends to be stronger.  Stainless steel is also generally more ductile than carbon steel, so it’s easier to spin stainless steel into thinner wires for meshes.

So, you’re more likely to see large-gauge carbon steel mesh, and smaller-gauge stainless steel wire mesh.  

3. Appearance

Stainless steel is usually considered to be the more attractive of the two options, with a pleasing metallic shine.  Also, it can be scratched without losing its luster – or its corrosion protection.  Carbon steel is more commonly used in applications where it’s out of view, and it shows damage more easily as well.

Turn to Cal-Wire for Your Wire Mesh Needs

We’re one of America’s top sources for high-quality wire mesh.  We own our production facilities and are vigorous in ensuring the purity of our raw materials.  To discuss our product lines and material options, just contact us!

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