Which Material is Best for Your Commercial Railings?

Posted On 10th January 2017

There are several options to consider when choosing commercial railings, but almost every architect agrees that steel is the way to go for high quality railings. They win out in terms of function, aesthetics and value. And because steel railings last a long time and are highly corrosive resistant, that can only mean long-term savings for your commercial property!

If you decide to use steel railings for your business, you might be surprised to know there are large differences between the types of steel you can choose — and the right one is important. You’ll want to consider safety, appearance and how well the railings perform for your circumstances.

The most common steel types used in professional-grade commercial railing systems are 304-grade stainless steel, 316-grade stainless steel, and carbon steel.

Before deciding on the best type, you’ll want to consider:

  • The environment your railing system will be in;
  • The amount of maintenance you’re willing to do;
  • How much traffic the railings will exposed to; and
  • The budget for the commercial project.

Stainless Steel: 304-Grade

Stainless steel requires less maintenance than other materials and doesn’t need a protective coating. Since you pay for the quality, it’s generally more expensive than other materials. 304-grade stainless steel is made up of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which is why it’s also known as, “18-8 stainless.”

Where to use them:

Stainless steel 304-grade posts and railings are often used in protected outdoor areas or areas where weather conditions aren’t harsh, as they don’t need a protective coating and are usually finished with satin or mirror to protect from corrosion.

304-grade steel railings are also a great choice for indoor railings and nothing more than regular cleaning with soap and water to maintain.


Beware of installing stainless steel 304 in salty or chlorinated environments, as they can cause corrosion. Browse our 304-grade stainless steel products here.

Stainless Steel: 316-Grade

For commercial railings with the highest possible resistance to corrosion, look for 316-grade stainless steel railings. The material’s chromium content interacts with the air to basically repair and protect itself from scratches and rust. Its nickel content is higher and contains 2% molybdenum that contributes to the high resistance and virtually no need for maintenance.

Where to use them:

If your commercial railings will be used in industrial applications or outside, 316-grade steel is likely your best choice. It works well in more extreme environments due to the high corrosion resistance.


Like the 304-grade steel, 316 is also affected by areas that are high is salt or chlorination, like coastal regions or swimming pools.

Browse the 316-grade stainless steel railings we offer here.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel has a lower corrosion resistance than stainless steel, so it must have a protective coating, often a powder coating. Carbon steel is less expensive than stainless steel, but that also means it requires regular maintenance to maintain quality.

Scratches and nicks can easily be touched up using paint, but you have to be careful not to leave scratches exposed. Bare carbon steel can quickly corrode and rust. Poor maintenance can lead to costly re-coating and repairs, so carbon steel railings must be checked regularly.

Where to use them:

Indoor use with very little exposure to the environment is best for carbon steel railings. Clean regularly with soap and water.

Weighing the pros and cons of the commercial railings you choose will ensure they work best for your business. BuyRailings.com offers a variety of high-quality commercial railings so it’s easy to find what you need.