Stainless Steel vs. Nickel-Plated Brass Grommets — Which One Do I Need?
Spur grommets are used to reinforce holes in a fabric assembly. They are often used to create attachment points for hooks, tethers or rope at the corners or edges of covers, tarps, tents or awnings. They are very durable pieces of hardware with many uses, and it’s smart to keep an assortment of spur grommet sizes on hand for your outdoor projects and repairs.
A question we get from a lot of customers is whether they need stainless steel or nickel-plated brass spur grommets for their application. People assume that stainless steel must be more weather resistant and, therefore, better for outdoor and wet environments. That’s not actually the case. Let’s dive deeper into this topic and give you the information you need to make an informed decision on grommet selection.
Comparing Stainless Steel & Nickel-Plated Brass Grommets
Nickel-plated brass is a more corrosion-resistant metal than stainless steel. Stainless steel will rust and patina over time more than nickel-plated brass. Therefore, we recommend nickel-plated brass spur grommets to our marine customers. If you need to install spur grommets in a material that will be exposed to various weather conditions, we recommend you go with nickel-plated brass grommets.
That being said, there is a big advantage to using stainless steel grommets for certain applications. Stainless steel is a much stronger metal than nickel-plated brass. We highly recommend stainless steel over nickel-plated brass spur grommets if you need heavy-duty grommets for high-stress, load-bearing applications.
What Happens When Stainless Steel Grommets Rust?
Stainless steel will discolor over time in an outdoor environment. This discoloration might be rust or the patina effect that the metal experiences. Let’s clarify the difference between patina and rust and when to be concerned about these effects.
Stainless steel grommets can rust from chemical exposure. This type of full-on rusting will compromise the integrity of the grommet. If you have a rusted grommet, you’ll want to remove it and replace it with a new one.
Newly installed stainless steel can show surface rust. This is most commonly a result of iron contamination that occurs when the metal is cut, formed or scuffed by non-stainless steel metals. An example would be during grommet installation or when cutting stainless steel tubing. This type of rust is cosmetic, does not compromise the metal’s integrity, and can be removed with a rust cleaner or with an automotive chrome polish followed by waxing with a car or fiberglass wax.
On the other hand, patina is something that will naturally occur with stainless steel. It’s a chemical process that discolors metal when the element is exposed to weather, air and time. Luckily, patina is actually an oxidation that further protects the metal. So there’s no need to be concerned or to replace your stainless steel grommets when you see them forming a patina.
What We Learned
Both stainless steel grommets and nickel-plated brass grommets have their preferred uses. Nickel-plated brass does better in outdoor and wet environments and is the recommended choice for marine, camping and outdoor applications. If you need high-strength grommets for load-bearing applications, then stainless steel is the right choice for you.
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