The Differences Between Steel and Aluminum

Metal Fabrication, Metal Products | January 31, 2023

As two of the most popular materials in the world for metal fabrication and welding, steel and aluminum are widely used for projects across various industries. Whether you are constructing automotive frames or large metal tanks, you will likely need to use steel, aluminum, or a combination of both materials. While they share many similarities in terms of appearance, steel and aluminum differ in many ways. As leading providers of quality metal products for many applications, LWS Manufacturing & Welding understands the importance of using the correct materials for your project. That is why we have compiled some information on the differences between steel and aluminum to help you determine which material is right for your needs and budget.

Learn about the different types of metal used in welding.

4 Differences Between Steel and Aluminum

Though steel and aluminum are both used for a variety of metal fabrication and welding projects, it is crucial to understand the following differences:

1. Cost

The cost of aluminum and steel constantly fluctuates based on global supply and demand, transportation costs, and the economy. Despite this fluctuation, a pound of steel typically costs less than a pound of aluminum. These savings tend to increase when buying in bulk, making steel a great choice for projects that require a large amount of raw materials.

2. Corrosion Resistance

Resistance to rust and corrosion is a crucial factor when determining the right material for your project, especially if the finished product will be exposed to the elements. Aluminum is covered by a layer of aluminum oxide that protects the metal from exposure to oxygen, preventing rust. Steel often requires a layer of paint to protect it from rust and corrosion, though stainless steel is available as a rust-resistant and more expensive alternative.

3. Strength

Though steel is more susceptible to rust and corrosion without the right precautions, it is harder and stronger than aluminum. While aluminum can become stronger in cold environments, it is more prone to dents, scratches, and other forms of damage. Steel is less prone to warping or bending from weight, force, or heat, making it one of the most durable options on the market.

4. Weight

Steel has a weight/density ratio that is roughly 2.5 times that of aluminum, making it stronger and heavier. This increased weight also makes steel less malleable and more difficult to work with at times. Aluminum is more flexible and elastic than steel, making it a better choice for intricate designs and patterns. These qualities are why steel and aluminum are often used on the same project, as each material is suitable for different elements.

To learn more about our fabrication and welding services or to discuss the details of your project, get in touch with the team at LWS Manufacturing & Welding. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services.