What are the Different Grades of Steel?

  • By: Charles Brown
  • Date: March 8, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Many grades of steel exist, with each being stronger than the last. If you are looking for a single piece of metal that is strong and resilient while still remaining lightweight, then stainless steel may be what you need. Stainless steel grades range from 304 to 316L and offer many benefits, such as increased corrosion resistance, easy machinability, and high strength. This blog post discusses grades of stainless steel in more detail so you can decide which grade is best for your needs!

The Four Types of Steel

Metal is a material used to make many different objects. In recent years, there has been an increased demand for metal in the construction of vehicles and other products because it’s durable and low-cost. One type of metal that can create these products is steel. The four types of steel are carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, and tool steels. They all have unique characteristics that set them apart from one another.

For example:

Carbon Steels

Carbon steels are a broad category of steel alloys that contain carbon as the primary alloying element. Carbon steel is also known as plain-carbon steel (PCS) or mild steel. It was first produced in 1857 by Robert Forester Mushet, following Henry Bessemer’s invention of the Bessemer process for making mild steel from molten pig iron.

Alloy Steels

Alloy steels are iron alloys intentionally mixed with other elements to give them desired properties. Alloying is the process of combining a metal or metallic alloy with another aspect, such as aluminum, copper, manganese, silicon, and/or chromium. The addition of these elements alters the physical properties of steel by increasing its strength and toughness without sacrificing malleability (ductility).

Stainless Steels

Stainless steels are a family of steel alloys with higher chromium levels than other types. These high levels of chromium prevent the metal from rusting, which is why stainless steel has become so popular in kitchens and bathrooms. There are different grades or categories for stainless steel based on their level of corrosion resistance. The more corrosion-resistant the grade, generally speaking, the higher its cost.

Some common uses for stainless steel include cutlery, cooking utensils, tools, and appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers. But it’s also used to make everything from jewelry to buildings because it’s durable enough to withstand extreme weather conditions while still being easy to work with when needed.

Tool Steels

Tool steels are a particular category of alloy steels that have been designed to withstand abrasion, impact, and extreme temperatures. Tool steel is one of the most essential materials in the manufacturing industry. There are hundreds of different tool steel grades with varying qualities for specific purposes.

For example, machine shops use high-speed steel because it can be sharpened quickly and doesn’t wear easily. On the other hand, stainless steel is often used for food processing equipment because it resists rusting and corrosion from acidic foods like tomatoes or wine vinegar. This article will explore some common types (and grades) of tool steels to help you better understand their properties and applications.

Mead Metals Makes the Grade

Mead Metals is a leading provider of steel, stainless steel, and aluminum products for the construction industry. Because our customers have demanding needs, we offer a wide range of grades from commercial to architectural. We can also work with alloys from carbon through high-temperature steels and handle any size order. Mead Metals Makes The Grade with decades in the business and over 1 million square feet of manufacturing space, Mead Metals Makes The Grade!

FAQs about Grades of Steel

What grades of steel are best for knives?

Knives are one of the most common tools in kitchens worldwide. They can be used to cook, chop vegetables, or even spread butter on toast. However, not all knives are created equal, and it is essential to know what grades of steel your blade is made out of to determine its quality.

Depending on how hard they are, the different qualities will affect how well they cut through food and whether you need to use more force when cutting with them instead of other types that may be easier on your hands. This article will give an overview of some common types of blades and their advantages and disadvantages so you can make a better decision about which style would work best for you.

What grades of steel are ideal for stainless cutlery?

Excellent stainless steel does not rust or corrode. This means it has to be made of a high-quality alloy, usually containing chromium and nickel. The grade will also depend on the thickness of the metal; for example, 18/8 stainless steel will be more corrosion resistant than 18/0.

A top-quality knife should have an HRC rating of 57-59, meaning that it can resist scratching from diamond abrasives after prolonged contact with them. It should also have an edge retention rating (ER) of less than 5%, meaning that if you sharpen your knife every time the ER reaches 10%, then you should get at least 100 sharpening cycles before having to resharpen again. A good chef’s knife should also have a 40 and 46 HRC hardness range.

How is the quality appraised, and what does it mean when a grade is “special”?

Steel is one of the most widely used materials in the world. It’s so common that you might not think there are different steel grades. But if you’re looking for a specific type of steel with certain qualities, it pays to know what those differences are.

What should steel grades be used in culinary applications like pots and pans?

Steel grades are commonly used in culinary applications, such as pots and pans. The different steel grades have other properties that make them more or less desirable for certain types of cooking, depending on the type of food being cooked.

For example, stainless steel is generally considered a higher grade than carbon steel because it doesn’t have any risk for corrosion. It’s also typically lighter weight which can come in handy when working with large pieces like frying pans. Carbon Steel will give your food a unique flavor but at the expense of durability and performance overall. Choose the correct grade for your needs!


Steel is a metal alloy that can create many different types of products. Understanding steel’s various grades and properties will help you decide what kind of steel would work best for your project. If you need more information about how we determine the grade, feel free to reach out! Whether it’s mild or stainless, it’s essential to know which type will give you the most benefits, so you don’t end up with an inferior product.

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