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What is the difference between 304 and 316 Stainless Steel?

By Oak Pointe Team

Stainless Steel has two commonly utilized grades: Grade 304 and 316.

Have you ever looked at a Stainless Steel product and seen it identified as a 304 or 316 Stainless Steel? Have you ever wondered what exactly that means?

What precisely is the difference between the two grades?

All steels have the same basic composition, but Stainless Steel also contains a healthy dose of chromium — that alloy gives Stainless Steel its precise corrosion resistance.

Generally, 304 is the less expensive Stainless Steel option and is used in kitchen applications, liquid storage, and food prep equipment. It is also one of the most widely-used grades.

316, with its addition of molybdenum, is considerably more resistant to corrosive environments than 304. 316 is more suitable for exterior applications, including seawater environments and marine applications.


  • 18% Chromium & 8% Nickle
  • Lower-Cost Corrosion Resistance
  • Resistant to Oxidation
  • No Limitation on Fabrication


  • 16% Chromium, 10% Nickle, & 2% Molybdenum
  • Superior Corrosion Resistance
  • Resistant to Oxidation
  • Chlorine Resistant

How do you know which grade you need?

How do you know if you need 304 or 316? This question is rather simple. Is your application interior or exterior? If it’s interior, you can save on cost and go with 304. For exterior applications, it is helpful to have that extra corrosive protection, so 316 is best.

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