You Need A Stainless Steel Washer, But What Kind?

Juliet D'cruz

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Most fastener assemblies benefit from the addition of a washer. These simple but useful devices help to achieve and maintain optimal tension between joined parts. They distribute force, preserve surfaces, simplify maintenance, and incorporate other advantages that are inherent to their shape and material.


In one of the most notable examples, stainless steel washers resist corrosion, add a pleasing sheen, and incorporate reliable, long-lasting strength. This is generally why they are employed on so many different structural and equipment applications.

You may feel very certain that you need to use washers made from stainless steel, but do you know what kind? Stainless steel is available in many different grades. Some of these grades are suitable for general purpose applications, while others are more specialized. If you are unsure what kind of stainless steel washers you will need, consider the following details and options.

High Strength And Moderate Corrosion Resistance

Washers made from 301 stainless steel are high strength and work well as general-purpose washers that need moderate corrosion resistance. This alloy contains less chromium and more carbon. It’s suitable for resisting wear and fatigue.

301 spring tempered stainless steel is sometimes used in the manufacture of spring washers and Belleville washers that also require corrosion resistance. This material exhibits good tensile strength and wear resistance that amounts to a defective action, however, the washer must have a wave, conical, or split shape to function in this way.

302 stainless steel washers offer better corrosion resistance than 301 stainless steel washers. They are also high strength. 17/7 stainless steel washers will deliver a similar performance.

410 stainless steel washers are notable for their resistance to wear and rigid strength. Although they are not as corrosion resistant as 304 and 316 stainless steel washers, they will still resist corrosion caused by mild acids, moisture, and certain chemicals.

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General Strength And Enhanced Corrosion Resistance

304 stainless steel washers are very similar to those made from 302 stainless steel. They are also more corrosion resistant than 301 stainless steel washers, but less strong. They are frequently called 18/8 stainless steel washers. These washers are stamped from the most widely used grade of stainless steel. They are a good all-purpose choice where moderate strength will suffice.   

Exceptional Resistance To Corrosion And Chemicals

Although they are included in the category of 300 series stainless steel washers, 316 stainless steel washers offer a unique level of corrosion resistance. They are stamped from the second most common grade, which is sometimes called surgical steel. 316 stainless steel is also suitable for use in food processing and preparation applications.

For exceptional corrosion resistance, washers made from 316L deliver special advantages. 316L stainless steel can withstand highly corrosive conditions, including marine placement and where exposure to acids may occur.

High Shine And Moderate Corrosion Resistance

430 stainless steel washers are stamped from a grade that’s commonly used where a polished, high-sheen appearance is desired. 430 stainless is considered a decorative grade, which was once a standard on automotive trim and other applications that required a chrome or mirrored appearance. 430 stainless steel washers offer many esthetic benefits but they also will resist corrosion and contribute strength to standard-duty applications.

High-Temperature Strength And Corrosion Resistance

630 stainless steel washers are stamped from the most commonly used grade of precipitation hardened stainless steel. They are also called 17-4 stainless steel washers. They’re used in applications that require strength and reliability in high temperatures as well as resistance to chemicals and corrosion. Washers made from 630 stainless steel are seldom needed for general-purpose settings but they are used for aerospace, petroleum, and chemical industrial hardware.

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