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 more expensive and difficult to work than "normal" steel but this is offset by its superior strength and corrosion resistance. 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 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 after forging, all the scale must be removed by electropolishing. This "passivates" the surface to prevent corrosion. It is an industrial process that not only strips away any scale but also gives the forged texture a bright and "sparkly" finish.