1) StrengthOut of all railing materials available to architects, stainless steel is the strongest and most durable. To prove this, let’s take a look at its tensile strength compared to aluminum. Tensile strength is measured as force per unit area, and in the International System of Units (SI), the unit is the “pascal” (Pa); a multiple is called “megapascal,” or MPa. The ultimate strength for stainless steel is 590 MPa versus that of 300 MPa for 6061-T6 aluminum. With a fatigue performance that is twice as great as aluminum, stainless steel railings will provide many more years of safe, aesthetically pleasing use than an aluminum system.
2) Eco-FriendlyFor architects looking to use sustainable materials in their designs, stainless steel is a perfect choice. Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and can be recycled to make more steel materials without losing its quality. Not only is it created from sustainable sources, but 92% of stainless steel used in architectural projects is reused and recycled. Stainless steel proves to be quality material that meets the mark on performance while being environmentally friendly.
3) AffordabilityWhile stainless steel might not be the cheapest option at its initial price, its durability and low maintenance makeup for the cost. Stainless steel can endure harsh weather and will not crumble, fracture, or bend over time. Because stainless steel is a strong material, posts and handrails can be constructed much thinner than other railings. A “strength equivalent” steel post is 50% thinner than an aluminum post. Stainless steel requires little maintenance as well. A simple and free way to keep railings and posts looking like new is routinely wiping them down with a damp cloth.
5) Design Diversity
Stainless steel railings can be offered as prefabricated or custom design systems.
When choosing custom prefabricated railings, you are ordering a custom-designed railing system where pieces are pre-fabricated and put together per the approved railing specifications. The customization is achieved by the designer picking and choosing the various components to create the railing systems. These systems are typically pre-tested and approved to meet specific building code requirements. Since many prefabricated systems are manufactured outside the United States delivery times will be dependent on inventory or if the components need to be ordered from the original manufacturer. Additionally with prefab railings there is typically more labor on the jobsite which could off-set the price difference from custom fabricated railings.
Custom-designed stainless steel railings are designed and fabricated in-house, typically welded instead of using fasteners. Some of the advantages of custom over prefabricated include the following:
- Can offer better structural integrity
- Offers lower maintenance and repairs
- Can be build to specific project specifications
- Installation cost is typically lower
- Lead times can be comparable to pre-fabricated systems if component parts are coming from outside the country