4 Tips to Keep in Mind When Selecting Your Stainless Steel Outdoor Railing

4 Tips to Keep in Mind When Selecting Your Stainless Steel Outdoor Railing


Expert tips and product picks to maximize stainless steel performance outdoors and get the very best value.

Photo: Q-railing

The word “stainless steel” is often used as a catchall term, but in reality, this material can come in a variety of grades. After all, stainless steel is not a single metal, but an alloy, made from multiple elements melted together to create something distinct. Yes, stainless steel is often revered for its contemporary and timeless appeal—perfect for that modernist balcony application, or an industrial-cool stairwell—but it can also be incredibly durable and corrosion resistant, making it the ideal material for outdoor applications, if the right alloy is selected.

So before choosing your next railing products, here are four tips to maximize stainless steel performance for your outdoor space.

1. Comparing Stainless Steel Characteristics

Stainless steels aren’t that different from steel itself: the critical ingredients for both materials are iron and carbon. But stainless features a small amount of chromium, too, which reacts with the oxygen in the air to create a passive layer to help resist corrosion. It’s a natural chemical reaction that gives stainless steel the ability to self-protect and self-heal...and with a little molybdenum in the mix, corrosion resistance is enhanced. Basically, the higher the amounts of chromium and molybdenum, the better chance of resisting damage from pollutants, salts, and chlorides.

Stainless steel’s material characteristics can vary depending on the specific balance of all these elements, so each type of alloy features a range of strengths and corrosion resistance. Alloy 304, while often specified for interiors, can work well for some outdoor applications, and it’s typically available at a lower price point than other alloys created for more extreme environments. Alloy 316, meanwhile, is more resistant to contaminants from pollutants, salts, and chlorides but can be pricey, and may even be over-specified for outdoor uses in cases where 304 would be suitable. 

2. Consider Your Location

When you’re trying to decide which alloy to choose, think location, location, location. The environment has a significant impact on the lifespan of stainless steel railings, so the local climate should be taken into consideration. Sites within 10 to 20 kilometers of salt water are typically at high risk of corrosion, but in some locations, salt can be carried even further inland. Mild temperatures and low humidity, meanwhile, reduce the chances of corrosion and can mean a stainless steel grade not typically thought suitable for outdoors, such as alloy 304, may be worth considering.

Even after a site is deemed appropriate for a specific alloy, it’s important to think about the changes that may occur over time: Will the environment become more polluted? Is the sea level here rising? An urban area with low to moderate pollution today might have more corrosion exposure in the future should the atmospheric by-products change.

In short, alloy grade matters a lot. In urban or rural environments with low corrosion exposure, stainless steel in Alloy 304 can be the most economical choice. Refer to this page for more information on crucial determining factors when selecting alloys for outdoor applications. 

3. Specify Your Setting 

In addition to noting your location, it’s important to consider the setting in which these railings be installed. Will it be protected from the elements on a deck or balcony? Will it be exposed as a windscreen for an outdoor pool, or a deck near the ocean? Each alloy brings its own benefits and corresponding price tag.

Bezdan Stainless Cross Tube

Photo: Q-railing

As a guard railing on a covered patio, away from potential water exposure, alloy 304 would be a suitable fit here.

Q-railing Bezdan

Photo Credit: Q-railing

This railing near the ocean would be regularly exposed to salty marine air, so corrosion resistant alloy 316 would be best here.

Fascia Mount Glass Adapters and Cross Tube

Photo Credit: Q-railing

A backyard railing where the risk is low for corrosion from pollutants and salts, alloy 304 could be a suitable and cost-effective option.

4. Prepare To Take Care

 International Molybdenum Association   Rusted Railing close up                                    

Photos courtesy of the International Molybdenum Association 

Even though it’s called stain “less" steel no alloy is 100-percent invincible against stains, rust or damage. Air, water, and chlorides in the wind and rain can cause gradual damage, and reduce both mechanical strength and functionality of the metal. Without proper care, your stainless steel railings may experience pitting or crevice corrosion in the long term.

The right stainless steel alloy will help reduce the rate of corrosion and minimize damage, but regular care and maintenance are required to keep the finish and function in tip-top shape against the natural elements. The good news? It’s easy to maintain. Simple care includes wiping down now and then with light detergent and water. If you keep up regular maintenance, your stainless steel railing will keep its luster, strength, and durability for the long-haul. You can refer to our stainless steel care page for more information; even minimal attention will go a long way.

Product Picks To Meet Your Style And Needs 

Once you’ve decided on the right alloy for your project, it’s time for the fun part: finding a design that matches your taste, project, and budget. For metal and glass railing you can create frameless railing with minimal hardware, such as clamps, adapters and mini posts, to maximize sightlines, while a classic baluster style post and handrail can make a defining statement.

Frameless-Style Railing

Frameless glass railings are in high demand for stairs, balconies, decks, and windscreens. Modern and sleek, simple and stylish, it’s no wonder this is the top trending choice. Learn more.

Photo Credit: Q-railing 

Photo Credit: Q-railing

 Glass Clamp

Do you have an upcoming project for a guardrail or windscreen for a pool or a deck near the ocean? This square glass clamp in stainless steel alloy 2205 offers superior corrosion resistance to chlorides and salts  The clamp features a base plate with laser weld seams and countersunk holes to create a clean look making a cover flange optional.

Photo Credit: Q-railing

Fascia Mount Glass Adapters  

If you’re looking for a solution to maximize square footage and sightlines, fascia mount glass adapters secure to the side of the surface and offer space saving solutions for patios, decks and balconies. Available in two alloy options to suit your project needs and two color options in alloy 304: classic stainless steel or an eye-catching black stainless.

Baluster-Style Railing

What's great about a baluster-style railing is the countless design options available. Choose from round, square or rectangular forms, and a range of versatile infill options. Stainless steel posts combine with glass clips, "spider-style" glass adapters for posts, cable or cross tube to create unique railing designs.

Photo Credit: Q-railing

Alloy 316 is often over-specified for outdoor use. When Alloy 304 is an option for your outdoor project, Bezdan's exclusive line of satin finished baluster glass railing components will help you create a uniquely customized railing solution that delivers results for everyday applications.

Black stainless steel is the newest innovation in Bezdan's exclusive line of metal and glass railing components. Sleek, sophisticated and stylish, black stainless steel brings a modern, elegant aesthetic to any décor and offers superior quality and a superior finish to powder coated options.

While black powder coated components are prone to chipping, the satin finish on Bezdan black stainless is durable and versatile and offers a chip-free, scratch resistant solution. Furthermore, black stainless steel reflects light, creating a sense of spaciousness and dimension and is the latest design trend found in kitchen appliances, bathroom and light fixtures. Deliver exceptional results on your next project.

Which Alloy Is Right For Your Project?

With a little research and consideration, it’s easy to find an alloy that fits your location and setting needs and budget. For many, alloy 304 is a great fit for outdoor applications, but whatever you’re looking for, there’s a stainless steel product option ready to suit your needs. 

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