Carbon Steel Vs Stainless Steel – What’s Right For My Project?

carbon steel vs stainless steel

It’s always exciting to start a new project but before doing so, it’s important to know the difference between the various types of steel to be sure of choosing the right one for you. In this post, we’re going to take a look at two of the most common types of steel and their unique qualities, so here goes …

Carbon Steel Vs Stainless Steel – Common Uses

Stainless steel is the most common form of steel and you’ll see it everywhere from kitchens to hospital operating rooms to utensils and automobile components. Its popularity is due to its ability to resist corrosion and rust unlike many other types of steel as well as its aesthetic of a shiny or matte appearance.

Carbon steel is the less popular of the two, but if your project requires a strong grade of steel, then it could be an ideal choice. The most common use of carbon steel is in precision equipment such as knives which can be periodically sharpened to give several years of reliable use. While undoubtedly carbon steel is strong, oxidation often occurs due to moisture and when compared to stainless steel, it’s less pliable and harder to mould.

So now you know the main differences between carbon steel vs stainless steel, here are some other points to consider when choosing between the two.


If it’s more about aesthetics for you, then stainless steel which has a glossier appearance is likely to be your preference. There are several grades to choose from and a range of finishes including brushed, matte, and mirror finish.

If your project calls for a flat, matte appearance then choose carbon steel. It can be sanded and polished to make it shinier but to prevent rust and tarnish, it will need a clear coat of varnish to paint as quickly as possible.


All projects have a budget ad it’s best to get the best value for your money. The price of steel varies according to the grade you choose but typically when comparing carbon steel vs stainless steel, the latter is usually more expensive. The extra cost takes into account the other alloy elements such as nickel and chromium whereas carbon steel utilises more affordable elements such as iron and carbon, making it a good choice for those on a tighter budget.

Ductility and tensile strength

Typically, stainless steel is more ductile than carbon steel because it contains nickel. However, be aware that martensitic grades are often brittle. If strength and ductility matter to you, then it’s probably best to go for stainless steel.

Corrosion resistance

It’s likely that corrosion is going to be your most important consideration and when comparing carbon steel vs stainless steel the latter is by far the most corrosion-resistant. That said, both types of steel can rust in moist conditions but the chromium contained in stainless steel gives an extra layer of protection against corrosion and degradation. With carbon steel, you must always give it a clear coat of varnish or paint to prevent rusting.

Do you need a steel fabricator in Brisbane?

If you’re about to embark on a project and you need a reliable and trusted steel fabricator in Brisbane, look no further than Metro Steel. With many years of experience and a purpose-built facility, we’ve got you covered and can point you in the right direction if you’re unsure whether you need carbon steel vs stainless steel. 

Contact us today on 07 3204 1000 to speak to an expert or drop by our facility in Deception Bay.




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