What Are The Differences Between Mild Steel and Stainless Steel?


Steel is one of the most popular materials around the globe. Around 1.3 billion tons a year are produced and used in everything from home products, to fabrication and construction.

There are many different types of steel of varying grades, thicknesses, qualities, and with different properties. There are different types of steel suited to different projects, conditions and environments.

The key properties of steel are it’s strength, ductility, tensility, aesthetics and price. Selecting the right type of steel make a massive difference to quality of a project and the overall production costs involved.

Two of the most common types of steel are stainless steel and mild steel. However, which one should you choose for your project? Read below to find out what the differences between stainless steel and mild steel, as well as their properties and applications.

What You Need To Know About Mild Steel

Mild steel, also known as ‘carbon steel’ or ‘plain carbon steel’, contains no more than 2% carbon and no other significant alloys. This type of steel is one of the most common on the planet and is used for a huge variety of applications.

Mild steel is typically very stiff and and very strong. Another property of mild steel is that it is ferromagnetic, which in layman’s terms means that magnetic forces are attracted to them.

This type of steel can be found anywhere from motors to home appliances like refrigerators. In order to weld steel with more than 0.3% carbon, it is required to take extra precautions. Although precautions need to be put in place, the dangers are far less eminent than welding stainless steel.

Mild steel is unfortunately not very corrosion resistant, and therefore is not to be used in corrosive environments. Some types of mild steel may be treated through processes such as galvanisation in order to improve the corrosion resistance of the metal to make it suitable to harsher environments, such as in marine environments.

Compared to plain steel, mild steel is more malleable and ductile. Plain steel is far more brittle, but has better corrosion resistance.

What You Need To Know About Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a chromium content of atlas 11.5%. Due to the addition of chromium to the steel, stainless steel does not corrode, stain or rust in the same way typical steel might. Despite this, stainless steel is not completely impervious.

Stainless steel is also known as corrosion resistant steel when the alloy type and grade are not specified. This name is particularly used in the aviation industry.

Stainless steel comes in a variety of grades and surface finishes to meet the demands of any project or environment. Stainless steel is everywhere, and can be found in most kitchens around the world being used as cutlery.

Compared to mild steel, stainless steel will not rust when exposed to air or to excess moisture. The passive film of chromium oxide that forms on stainless steel acts as a protective barrier against corrosion. Mild steel however forms a layer of iron oxide that rapidly accelerates the corrosion process.

What Are The Advantages or Disadvantages of Using Either Mild Steel or Stainless Steel?

Mild steel is more affordable than stainless steel and is typically used in the bulk of construction. If the steel surface is not going to be exposed, or the final piece is going to be painted or coated, mild steel is typically used due to the cost benefits.

If bending or welding steel, mild steel also has a greater advantage over stainless steel. Stainless steel is a great alternative when weight-baring is not a factor due to its light weight. Aluminium stainless steel can be found in many modern cars due to its light weight, which helps improve performance and reduce emissions.


Depending on the type of project you are involved in, it is important to weigh up the cost and weldability benefits with the corrosion resistant benefits of stainless steel. Mild steel is typically perfect for general use, especially in construction projects. Stainless Steel is a great material for exterior surfaces where resistance against corrosion and abrasion is important.

Talk to your steel supplier today to find out more about mild steel for your next project. A good steel supplier should be able to assist in helping you find the right type of steel for your project requirements.

Beyond mild steel, there are a variety of other types of steel that have various other properties, including the abrasion and corrosion resistant properties of stainless steel.

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