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Stainless Steel Buyers' Guide


Stainless Steel Buyer


As an online supplier of stainless steel, Quick Ship Metals knows that selecting the right grade or finish is important, but the task isn’t that difficult once you understand some basic variables. Because for most applications these variables are a set technical terms.

The first thing you need to understand is that stainless steel gets its name because it stains less, and it is not stain proof.

Because of the fact that stainless steel is an alloy whose properties are consistent through and through, the stain resistance is not limited to the surface. Even if the material is damaged, stainless steel has intrinsic self-healing capabilities that ensure the surface does not discolor or corrode. This unique property is called passivity, and is the reason stainless steel doesn’t need to be coated or have any other form of surface protection to maintain its bright and shiny appearance.

Stainless steel sheet metal in its many forms, alloys and grades is an excellent choice for applications where you need a durable surface that resists rusting, staining and the corrosive effects of from many, if not most chemicals. The following information will help you determine which grade and surface treatment will provide the optimal combination of performance characteristics for your particular needs.


Popular Uses for Stainless Steel Sheet Metal

Dishwasher fitted with a custom cut 304 brished stainless dishwasher panel.
Kitchen backsplash made from decorative stainless sheet metal. Home bathroom decorated and protected with stainless steel sheets.  


Grades of Stainless Steel

Suppliers offer several different grades of stainless steel sheeting. Most grades are designed to perform best in the environment where the metal will be used during its lifetime. Without going into an involved discussion of metallurgy, the key issue for stain resistance is the amount of carbon and chromium used in the alloy. In the finished alloy, chromium forms a passive film of chromium oxide, which prevents surface corrosion and blocks corrosion from spreading into the metal’s internal structure. Stainless steel contains a maximum of 0.15% carbon, a minimum of 16% chromium and varying amounts of nickel and/or manganese depending on the hardness, flexibility and stain resistance desired.

The most common type of stainless is 304 Alloy Austenitic Steel. In fact, around 70% of all stainless steel made is Austenitic. This type is commonly referred to as the 300 series. This series is the most corrosion resistant, ductile (ability to change shape without fracture), and weld-able of all the stainless steel alloys.

Type 316 Stainless is mainly used for heavy-duty work, including the chemical industry, food processing equipment, counter tops and backsplash applications. 316 Stainless Steel Sheet is only available from QuickShipMetals.com through special order.



As a major sheet metals supplier, QuickShipMetals.com offers an easy way to understand thickness and flexibility by relating to objects that you have in your pocket or purse. The thickness of metal sheeting is listed in decimals. Metal sheeting with the thickness of .010" compared to our American system of fractions, would measure to less than 1/64 inch.

Now, let’s go one step further and give you a comparison of the flexibility of the metal that you can relate to an item in your everyday life. If you may have a medical insurance card, stainless sheeting with a .010" thickness will have the same flexibility as either of these cards. A standard credit card measures .028".

Sheet metals sold by QuickShipMetals.com range from:
.0239" (24 Gauge),
.0229" (22 Gauge),
.0359" (20 Gauge),
.0478" (18 Gauge),
.0598" (16 Gauge).

Picture comparable thickness using US Coins:
Penny .059" ... Nickel .078" ... Dime .053" ... Quarter .069" ... Half Dollar .085"


Stainless steel comes in a wide variety of surface finishes. Some are intended for simplicity of service, while others are strictly decorative.


304-Alloy Brushed Stainless Steel Sheet

Brushed stainless steel sheet of 304 grade stainless alloy.  

Quick Ship’s brushed, 304 stainless steel sheet metal contains approximately 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It has a durable, corrosion resistant, brushed finish that can be used in many popular applications.

Some common applications for 304 include chemical processing equipment, items for food, dairy, and beverage industries, for heat exchangers, and for the milder chemicals.

304 Brushed stainless used to cover a countertop island.


Decorative Stainless Steel Sheet, Magnetic Stainless Sheet, Mirror Finish and more options...


Decorative Stainless Steel Swatches

1. Bright Tree Bark

Bright Tree Bark is an ideal surface treatment if you’re looking for a very distinctive stainless steel to provide architectural texture. Tree Bark can give any kitchen or bathroom a strong visual presence. It also offers great strength in applications that will have high impact or heavy use. This pattern is often used to break the vertical or horizontal focuses while maintaining an industrial grade finish that is impervious to wear.

2. Random Swirl

Random Swirl is another popular treatment, similar to brushed, but more random in nature. It is used in very exquisite kitchens for a backsplash behind the sink and stove. It does not show marking and is easy to keep clean.

3. Bright Quilt Stainless Steel

Bright Quilt stainless steel can give any kitchen or bathroom application an appearance that turns heads, for all the right reasons. It offers great strength in applications expected to have moderate impact. This pattern is very effective in applications where you want to break up a vertical or horizontal focus.

4. Bright Ocean

Bright Ocean stainless steel is typically used in decorative applications, including bar tops, storefronts, and light fixtures; however, there are many more possible applications. The subtle, irregular pattern compliments many design elements and is perfect for an area where some texture is desirable.

5. Bright Checkerboard

Bright Checkerboard stainless steel is a very popular architectural stainless steel. It is especially popular for applications such as commercial wall coverings or any area that experiences high traffic volumes such as corridors or public facilities.

6. Satin Quilt

Satin Quilt stainless steel can give any kitchen or bathroom architectural appeal, as the satin design is preferred in applications to break vertical or horizontal focus. The pattern offers great strength and impact resistance, while maintaining an attractive industrial finish.

7. Connecticut Style

Hammered Connecticut Style Hammered stainless sheet is one of the more popular styles of hammered stainless sheeting. This hammered stainless sheet is commonly used in decorative applications, including light fixtures, sinks, and several other ways.

8. Harlequin Quilt

Mixed bright quilt and satin panels enable Harlequin stainless to break up light reflection to accent the richness of wood or other fine cabinetry.

9. Bright Hammered

Bright Hammered stainless steel is another pattern with tremendous potential for any project where you’re looking for a distinctive décor. Consider this steel for bar tops, cabinet surrounds or an accent treatment on an exterior wall.



The Decorative Metals shown (left) are also available in sample packs that can ordered directly from QuickShipMetals.com. ORDER NOW and you'll receive a 10% savings coupon of your next stainless sheet metal order




Magnetic stainless steel sheet used as spice can holder.

430 Magnetic Stainless Steel

Yes, this is the same stainless steel sheet that your appliances are made of. It not only has the corrosion resistance factor, but it is also “Magnetic”. Hang it as a kitchen backsplash or a note board in the laundry room and then hang magnetic note holders all over it. The possibilities with this product are endless.


Stainless steel sheet also comes in a mirror finish to brighten any room.

Mirror Finish Stainless Steel

If you need a mirror for an area that is subject to abuse, consider the advantage of a mirror finish on #8 Mirror Finish Stainless Steel that will not break and scatter shards of glass. What it will do is provide an excellent mirror for many years to come.




Custom cuts and other services available at QuickShipMetals.com...


Price Calculator

Click to learn more.

Quick Ship's Custom Cuts Calculator - Now Available Online.

Enables you can instantly calculate the exact price for custom cut sheet metal - from custom backsplashes to custom-fit stainless sheets down to 1/16 of an inch. Then just click and order!


Sample of a closed hem on stainless sheet metal.

Click to learn more.

Quick Ship's Custom Sheet Metal Hemming

Hemming is a metalworking process where a sheet metal edge is mechanically bent to fit an uneven surface or simply roll over onto itself. And while hems or seams reinforce a sheet metal edge, their main purpose is to improve appearance by hiding burrs and rough edges on metal back splashes and other sheet metal installations.

QuickShipMetals.com offers standard Full (closed) Hems on most of its stainless, copper sheet metals.


Cutting and Bending Stainless Steel - Quick Ship Can Do It Fast and Accurately

Thinner sheets of stainless steel fairly easy to cut and bend. A standard jigsaw or circular saw with a metal blade will cut 24- or 2- gauge stainless. More challenging cuts can be made using a RotoZip saw, but when you start getting into the thicker sheets the best option is to have it custom cut when you place your order.

Bending 24 gauge stainless steel sheeting can be done with a 2×4 that has a well-defined edge, but for 20-gauge and thicker sheets you’ll have to use a handbrake to be sure of getting a good looking edge. And again, you can order any custom bend, edge or hem and then all you’ll have to do is install the metal.


Always Remember...

Custom cuts, bends and hems of our stainless steel sheet metal can typically be shipped the next business day.

When appropriate, some stainless steel sheet metal supplied by Quick Ship Metals is shipped with a protective, peel off PVC film on one surface, in order to prevent scratches during shipping. This PVC film helps ensure a scratch-free stainless steel sheet on arrival, and should be left in place until the installation is complete.

If you are in need of a custom order or have any questions about the stainless steel sheet metal sold online at Quick Ship Metals, please call us at 1-888-334-2177 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm EST).




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