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Stainless Steel Sheets – 304, Cold Rolled, 2B and #4 Finish
304 Stainless Steel sheets and plates are ideal for applications where sanitation is critical or where there is a constant risk of corrosion. Stainless steel does not rust, and so it does not need protecting from moisture or chemicals in its immediate vicinity. It will not need painting or finishing, and does not easily discolour over time. It is easy to clean and does not tend to pick up odours.
For Bulk Quantities, Please Contact Us.
304 Stainless Steel Sheet
304 stainless steel sheet is a popular and cost-effective form of stainless steel, providing outstanding corrosion resistance and excellent workability despite its durability. It is non-magnetic and comes in different finishes: 2B Mill (dull finish) and #4 (brushed), as well as mirrored and other variations, where required. The sheets are cold rolled and can be purchased pre-cut in a range of thicknesses, from 0.024-inch up to inch-thick plate, ideal for a large number of diverse applications but especially those where corrosion and/or sanitation is an issue.
Shipping to residential and commercial addresses available via UPS.
Shipping for bulk orders – 2 pieces and up to 50 pieces available for commercial addresses for a $195 flat fee. Contact if interested or inquire about residential address.
We are able to ship oversized metals for a flat rate of $195 to any of the 48 states (up to 50 pieces) using a trucking company.
We are able to ship smaller pieces via UPS.
Here is a more detailed guide on shipping.
Sales Policy: All Returns and Exchange are Subject to 24% Restocking Fee After Shipment has Left our Facility.
Composition and properties
Unlike regular mild steel, 304 Stainless Steel is composed of iron that has been alloyed with a number of different materials. Chief amongst these is Chromium, which comprises around 18 percent, and Nickel (up to 8 percent). Together, these give it one of its other common names, 18/8 Steel. In addition, 304 Stainless Steel contains Manganese (2 percent) and Silicon (1 percent), as well as traces of Carbon, Sulphur and Phosphorus (a fraction of one percent each), and sometimes Molybdenum (0.6 percent).
These additional elements give 304 Stainless Steel very different properties to other forms of steel. It does not rust or corrode under normal conditions, and is therefore suitable for applications where it will constantly be getting wet or dirty. It does not need painting or finishing, and has an attractive surface in its own right; this both makes it easy to clean and means that the finish will not degrade or flake off over time. It is also non-magnetic, and so will not either magnetise or collect magnetised dust and filings. (However, it may become slightly magnetic when worked due to the effect this has on the metal’s structure.) It is not heat treatable, but this is generally unnecessary due to its innate properties anyway. It is comparatively resistant to thermal and electrical conductivity, compared with other forms of steel. These properties mean that it is typically used for home and industrial applications, such as Stainless Steel screws and machinery parts, whilst sheet metal is often used for surfaces and appliance housing and covers.
304 Stainless Steel is highly robust but is also easily worked with the right equipment. Depending on the thickness of the sheet or plate, it can be cut, drilled, machined and welded without issue.
Thickness and finishes
304 Stainless Steel sheets and plates are available in several finishes, but the most common are 2B (milled) finish and #4 (brushed). #8 (mirror finish) is also readily available.
2B is a milled finish that is dull grey and semi-smooth to the touch. Like other forms of stainless steel it has excellent corrosion resistance and can be shaped relatively easily with the right tools and techniques. It is suited to applications where these properties are desirable but a brushed/polished finish is not required.
#4 is a brushed finish that is smoother than 2B. Note that the finish has a direction to the grain, so if your sheet of steel is not square then you will need to specify the direction that you would like the grain to run – across or along the length of the sheet. Like 2B, it offers outstanding resistance to corrosion and is readily workable with the right equipment.
The sheets of metal are cold rolled, before being annealed (heat treated to alter the crystalline structure of the metal). They are then ‘pickled’ or treated with an acid solution to remove any surface oxidation and impurities, and a layer of Chromium oxide (passivation) is allowed to form on the surface. For the 2B finish, the sheets are passed through a further set of rollers, and for #4 they are brushed to give the distinctive smooth appearance and light grain. A series of other finishes are available, each using additional processes.
The sheets or plates are available in pre-cut sizes, and with a range of thicknesses, from 0.024-inch (around 1/40 inch or 6mm) up to full inch-thick plate (25.4mm). Sheets can also be custom cut to size, depending on your specific requirements.
Stainless steel sheets are perfect for:
- Food handling and processing – surfaces and surrounds, such as counters and splashbacks
- Dairy processing plants and milking equipment
- Kitchen appliances and some cookware
- Hospital equipment and surfaces
- Marine hardware
- Kickplates for doors
- Restroom panels
- Other applications in which the strength of steel is required as well as resistance to corrosion
Despite the name, Stainless Steel can stain slightly over time, in particular (extreme) conditions. These include low-oxygen environments, and those in which there is a high level of salinity (such as constant exposure to seawater). This can be mitigated by regular cleaning and maintenance, and the alloy is significantly more resistant to damage in these conditions than other alternatives. However, in the vast majority of circumstances corrosion and staining should not be an issue. The Chromium content of the steel forms a light oxide film on the surface which prevents further oxidation in all but the harshest environments. This prevents corrosion from spreading to the inside of the sheet.
Although 304 Stainless Steel is extremely robust, some maintenance is required to keep it in top condition. You should clean it regularly to remove any dirt or chemicals using a soft cloth and warm water. Stains can usually be removed with detergent. At the point of installation you should check carefully to ensure the surface of the steel is free from stains or blemishes. Further maintenance and careful cleaning is recommended between once a year and once a month, depending on the environment in which it is used.
By Eric Lee
24GA 2B, 24 GA #4, 22GA 2B, 18GA 2B, 14GA 2B, 14GA #4, 12GA 2B, 11GA 2B
12″ x 96″, 24″ x 96″, 36″ x 96″, 48″ x 96″, 48″ x 120″