304 vs. 316L Stainless Steel

Why Your Stainless Steel Choice Matters

See the John Michael Difference!

Why choose 316L Stainless?

In short, type 316 stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion from salt water which makes it a must-have for coastal environments. However, marine environments are not the only location to be concerned about corrosion.  There are plenty of areas where normal rainfall can start to corrode your outdoor products. Certain levels of damaging acid can wreak havoc on your stainless steel over time. Learn more below about the advantages of 316 Stainless Steel and why it is the only choice you should make for your outdoor kitchen products.

Benefits of using 316L

  • Gold Standard for Outdoors
  • Lower Carbon Content
  • More Corrosive Resistant
  • Withstands Extreme Conditions
  • Requires Less Maintenance
  • Used on all John Michael Kitchens

stainless cabinet

Stainless steel combines iron, chromium and many other elements. Chromium inhibits corrosion and plays a large part in defining stainless. You probably can’t tell the different types of stainless apart with the naked eye, but at the microscopic level there are significant differences. In total, there are over 100 different kinds of stainless steels but only a few of them are regularly utilized in industrial applications. Take a quick look at the compositional differences between stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 316L.

Stainless Steel Composition (in percentages)  
Stainless Type304316L
Carbon.08 max.03 max
Manganese2.00 max2.00 max
Phosphorus.45 max.45 max
Sulfur.30 max.30 max
Silicon1.00 max1.00 max

corrosion chart
outdoor cabinet

304 Stainless Steel (preferable for indoor use)

304 stainless steel is one of the most commonly used stainless steels. It is structurally sound, good for some construction jobs and holds up well in some conditions. Any time you see stainless steel railings, or metallic piping  it is most likely 304 steel. However, 304 contains higher levels of carbon than 316L  and will consequently start to slowly corrode and will eventually show signs of wear and tear. Unfortunately, this type of stainless satisfies a broad demand for adequate performance at an affordable price which results in a large number of applications where 304 is simply inadequate.

316L Stainless Steel (the gold standard for outdoor use)

304 stainless steel becomes 316L when an alloy called Molybdenum is added to the steel. Molybdenum is referred to as the “Super Man” of the alloy world. It increases the overall strength of stainless steel and also makes it much more durable in harsh and corrosive environments. Because 316L holds up so well in extreme conditions, it is used for a number of chemical, industrial, marine and medical applications.

316L is also an extra low carbon (ELC) grade of stainless that has only .03% carbon, making less carbon available to precipitate with the chromium. It is used extensively in marine exhaust systems where salt water corrosion mixed with diesel exhaust creates such a horrible environment that even other grades of stainless run and hide!

Because of its strengthening and anti-corrosion properties, 316L typically costs a lot more than 304, but at John Michael Kitchens we want our customers to have the absolute best in protection. Unlike our major competitors we use 316L on all our outdoor kitchen cabinets and do so without the increased cost falling on you. Compare for yourself, and you will see that John Michael Kitchens offers you the best luxury outdoor kitchen products!

outdoor cabinets