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7 Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel Fasteners

Bolts at the top
Stainless steel fasteners are ideal for a variety of applications because of their outstanding properties. They are recyclable, sturdy, and corrosion resistant even in extreme temperatures. Proper maintenance can extend the life of stainless steel joinery equipment. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your stainless steel fasteners.

1. Select Fasteners with a Corrosion-Resistant Finish

Stainless steel fasteners with a smooth finish are less likely to succumb to corrosion. On the contrary, rough steel fasteners tend to trap small debris that can damage the protective chromium oxide, leaving the fastener discolored and rusty. Look for electro-polished stainless steel fasteners, which are more corrosion resistant.

2. Use the Right Grade of Stainless Steel 

Choose the right grade of stainless steel to prolong the life of fasteners. There are numerous grades of stainless steel, but grade 304 and 316 are the most widely used. Grade 316 is more resistant to discoloration.

Opt for grade 316 if you are using the fasteners in humid areas such as coastal regions or for boat and marine applications. Use grade 304 stainless steel fasteners for general-purpose applications and in noncoastal environments.

3. Minimize Contact with Other Metals

Galvanic corrosion results from different metals coming into contact and kick-starting a corrosive reaction. Wet stainless steel fasteners are at a higher risk of galvanic corrosion. Use rubber or nylon separators to keep other metals from interacting with stainless steel to minimize the risk of rust.

4. Lubricate Regularly

Galling, which occurs when the threads lockup, is a significant risk when working with stainless steel fasteners. Thread lockup is most common with nyloc nuts and with fasteners with larger threads. Prevent threads from locking through regular lubrication.

5. Eliminate Expose to Rainwater

Impurities can damage the chromium oxide layer that protects stainless steel from corrosion. This results in the iron in the stainless steel interacting with oxygen, causing the fastener to rust. Exposing steel fasteners to rainwater can wash away impurities and restore the protective chromium oxide layer.

If you use stainless steel fasteners in corrosive environments that are sheltered from rainwater, consider enhancing the corrosion resistance of the fasteners by selecting a corrosion resistant grade of stainless steel, choosing fasteners with a smooth surface, or electropolishing the fasteners.

6. Reduce Risk of Contamination 

Work tools can contaminate stainless steel fasteners and result in corrosion. To prevent corrosion, use tools made from the right materials and dedicate these tools only for use with stainless steel fasteners.

Look for drive or screw tips made from chrome vanadium steel, hammers made from high-quality stainless steel or chrome-plated steel, and cutting wheels that do not contain carbon or iron, those that are specifically for stainless steel or made from aluminum oxide. Be sure to wrap stainless steel fasteners with plastic materials to minimize contamination at work sites.

7. Maintain a Regular Cleaning Schedule

Extend the life of your stainless steel fasteners with regular cleaning. Proper moisture management can help to remove contaminants and protect stainless steel applications and fasteners from rust. Remove dust and debris from fastening equipment to minimize the need for replacement or repair and the associated costs.

The market is flooded with low-quality stainless steel fasteners containing a high amount of manganese and low amounts of nickel. These fasteners do not have enough chromium oxide and are therefore more prone to rust. To save money and ensure the integrity of your industrial projects, purchase your stainless steel fasteners from a reputable supplier.

Whether you need standard or custom-made fasteners for your structural project, you can trust Ascension Fasteners to deliver the best quality bolts, screws, nuts, pins or studs. Get in touch with us today to discuss your project's needs and get a quote.