FAQ – Stainless Steel Fabricators
- What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel, in its simplest terms, is steel that has been combined with other elements which give it beneficial properties that it would otherwise not have. The two most common elements are Chromium (Cr) and Nickel (Ni). These elements enhance the quality of the steel by giving it strength and resistance to corrosion. Cr provides luster and durability while Ni adds hardness and strength.
- How is the quality of stainless steel measured?
The quality is measured by the thickness of the metal which is measured by its “gauge” and the Chromium (Cr)/Nickel (Ni) content. The lower the gauge the thicker the metal is. The Cr/Ni content is typically identified by a ratio, like “18:8”, that will range from 18:8 to 20:10. Most sinks are 18:8 meaning it has 18% Chromium and 8% Nickel. Stainless that has a higher Nickel content will have a silver hue, where stainless with 8% Nickel will have a more dull grey-ish appearance.
- Are all stainless products built to the same standard?
Absolutely Not; stainless steel gauges are not always what they say they are. Different companies/manufacturers take different liberties when measuring the gauge of the metal. Even more important: products built by CKF (and other stainless steel manufacturers) are very different than the products that are built for the “Big Box” stores. The difference is in the quality and consistency. At CKF a 14 guage product will have the same thickness of stainless throughout; where a 14 gauge product for the chain store will start at 14 gauge, but because they are manufactured through a “stamp” process, the thickness varies throughout because the metal is stretched.
- What does “finish” refer to?
The finish of stainless refers to the appearance of the metal. The most common finishes are brushed or matte, milled and polished. With consumer products, such as faucets, sinks and appliances the finish is predominately a matter of personal choice, but there are however, some qualities that should be considered when selecting a finish. For example, a sink with a polished (mirror finish) would be difficult to maintain as it would frequently get scratched, where a sink with a brushed or matte finish would be much easier to maintain as the scratches would not show as much.
- What is the insulation and coating?
Commonly sinks are insulated and coated to help deaden sound, but it also serves in reducing condensation buildup on the bottom of the sink, which could lead to moisture problems in the base cabinet that the sink is installed into. Not all sinks will have this feature, but it is something to consider, especially with thinner (lower gauged) sinks since they tend to produce more tinny sound.
- How “Green” is Stainless Steel?
Stainless is the ultimate “green” material. It is 100% recyclable. Most stainless is between 65% – 80% recycled material, but with a little effort you can likely find products with as much as 90% recycled material. Stainless does not degrade or lose any of its properties in the recycling process.