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When constructing a custom railing system, we will consider many materials. But, most architects find that stainless steel railings are both beautiful and functional. The stainless steel railing system looks stylish, or it looks formal and traditional. Stainless steel is durable and durable. Omit long-term buy costs, stainless steel railing systems have great value.

Stainless steel railing system and aluminum railing system

Generally, stainless steel railing systems are the material of choice. Because, compared with aluminum, stainless steel has better strength and toughness. And stainless steel handrails are more beautiful. After using it for a long time, the protective oxide layer of aluminum will turn white and sometimes dent. Aluminum is soft. It is easier to scratch and dent on the surface, making it difficult to clean and maintain Besides, aluminum railings more supported than stainless steel. It is the limitations in design and engineering.

Stainless steel is the best material choice for railing systems. But the difference between various stainless steels is surprising. Good stainless steel railing projects can provide customers with an aesthetic appeal. Its safety and performance are crucial. When determining the best material, you need to know the following.

The most popular railing system uses stainless steel

In the design and manufacture of railing systems, there are three types of stainless steel as follows:

  • Carbon Steel
  • 304-Grade Stainless Steel
  • 316-Grade Stainless Steel

These three types of railing systems have different advantages and disadvantages. When developing a new stainless steel railing system, it is important to understand your choices.

Carbon steel handrail

  • Advantages: strong, durable and cheap
  • Disadvantages: low corrosion resistance
  • Maintenance: a small amount of paint touch-up
  • Best for Indoor railing

Carbon steel contains up to 2% carbon. The result is harder, stronger steel. Carbon steel is the cheapest of the three main sheets of steel used in railing systems. And it is most suitable for indoor use with little environmental pollution.

Unlike stainless steel, carbon steel has very low corrosion resistance. Thus, it needs a protective layer. The most popular protection method is powder coating. This coating prevents corrosion and is available in a variety of colors.

Although carbon steel is a cheap option. But it needs regular maintenance to maintain its best condition.

The maintenance of the carbon steel railing system includes:

  • Check the general wear and tear, especially in areas with heavy traffic
  • Repair the scratches and scratches caused by metal objects (such as rings and watches).

These stains can be corrected using the following methods:1. Avoid exposing the bare carbon steel when touch-up paint. Carbon steel can rust and corrode without proper maintenance.2. The cost of maintaining the carbon steel railing system is very expensive. Need to be repaired or repainted. If possible, it should be avoided.

For general cleaning, soap and water will do.

Grade 304 stainless steel handrail

  • Advantages: resistant to common rust
  • Disadvantages: Corrosion in chlorinated or saline environment
  • Best for: indoor or protected railings
  • Not harsh outdoor environments
  • Maintenance: wash with soap and water

Grade 316 stainless steel handrail

  • Advantages: highest corrosion resistance
  • Disadvantages: More expensive, will lose its luster over time
  • Best for outdoor or extreme environments; industrial use
  • Maintenance: almost no maintenance

No matter what grade of stainless steel. When its chromium interacts with the surrounding air, it resists corrosion.It will oxidize into a stable thin layer of protective atoms to further prevent oxidation or rust. If the material is scratched, the chromium content will re-oxidize. It repairs itself before corrosion occurs.

This does not mean that stainless steel will not rust and corrode. When used near swimming pools or coastal areas, the saltwater or chlorinated substances in the air prevent chromium from forming the protective layer.

Grade 316 stainless steel can cope with harsh environments. Its nickel content is higher, and its molybdenum content is 2%, which can further enhance its corrosion resistance.

In turn, 316-grade stainless steel material becomes an ideal choice for outdoor guardrails. Like grade 304 stainless steel, no protective coating is required, and various surface treatments are provided to create a suitable appearance for any application.

Factors to consider when choosing handrail materials whether you choose carbon or stainless steel for your railing system. You must consider your costs and the application when deciding on materials. UM’s sales and technical teams usually start a dialogue on the following issues:

  • In what environment will the railing system be placed?
  • What kind of traffic will the railing bear?
  • What is the expected maintenance level?
  • What is the project budget?
  • It is important to answer these questions when specifying a custom railing system.

Location and environment

Is the railing system indoor or outdoor?

When selecting stainless steel handrails, the installation environment is a crucial factor.

Indoor railings are most affected by the volume and type of traffic at their location. Don’t think that cheap carbon steel is the best choice for indoor applications. Although carbon steel systems may perform well in low-traffic environments, high-traffic indoor applications. Usually, a harder and easier to maintain material is required. In the handrail area where the hand often slips, please consider 304-grade stainless steel.

Grade 304 stainless steel may be the best choice for indoor and outdoor railing systems. If your application is far away from salt water and will not be exposed to extreme conditions.

Grade 304 stainless steel is used for indoor applications.It is also suitable for protected outdoor applications. 304 stainless steel is available in a variety of styles, requiring little or no regular maintenance. For example, grade 316 stainless steel can be used for railing systems in beach hotels. Withstand its harsh environment.


If your customers are looking for low-maintenance materials, choose stainless steel. Wipe off most dirt or fingerprints with warm water and a soft cloth. As long as it does not contain chlorine, stubborn stains can be treated with organic solvents. Acetone or mineral spirits can be used safely on stainless steel railings. For high-traffic applications, low-thickness finishes (such as satin) will cover most daily stains.

Carbon steel needs more attention to maintain its appearance and optimal performance. Maintenance personnel hopes to repair scratches through paint touch-up to avoid corrosion. This requires a long-term maintenance plan. This includes regular respray or replacement of protective coatings. But it is worth it. Proper maintenance can ensure that the carbon steel railing system can be used for a long time.


When choosing the right railing material for a project, price is usually a factor to consider. The budget should consider the upfront installation costs and total cost of ownership.

Choosing cheaper materials can save a lot of money. But for a long time after the installation is complete, the cost may be high. Choosing the most suitable material for you can help you save installation costs. There are future maintenance, cleaning, painting and maintenance costs. You may find that upgrading to better materials can reduce the total cost of ownership.

stainelss steel handrail system

Don’t know where to start?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best railing system material. Choose the right method, you are the hero; choosing the wrong material may lead to customer dissatisfaction. If you are not sure which method is right for your application, you can work with an experienced team. According to your needs, it is very important to design a stainless steel handrail system that can meet your needs in the next few years.

This is where UM can help. UM uses more than 5,000 custom railing systems worldwide. Its unique location can provide the right solution for your next project. No matter the size, budget or application. Our sales and technical staff are always ready to help you determine the best material for your custom railing system.

Before starting the next custom railing project, please contact UM for a free consultation.