Stainless Steel; Bright and Corrosion Resistant
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, nickel and chromium, first formulated in the early 20th century in Sheffield.
It is much more expensive and difficult to work than "normal" steel but this is offset by its superior strength, corrosion resistance and beauty. It is a silver coloured metal that can be polished to a satin or mirror finish. Either finish will contrast with darker forged steel, or copper and bronze, when used as detailing.
There are many variations of the alloy but essentially grade 304 is suitable for interior use, whilst the more corrosion resistant and expensive 316 should be used outside. It is virtually maintenance free and either grade can be left unpainted.
Heating and forging stainless steel creates a dark scale on its surface. This can be selectively buffed away leaving an attractive polished, silver and black finish suitable for interior use. If however the metal is to be used outside, all the scale must be removed after forging by abrasive finishing, or by "pickling" with special acids, or by an electro-chemical process. Both treatments "passivate" the metal to give it a corrosion free surface. Passivation can also be combined with electropolishing to lend the forged texture a bright and "sparkly" finish.