How Do You Tell if a Cable is Stainless or Galvanised?

How do you tell if a cable is stainless or galvanised

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How Do You Tell if a Cable is Stainless or Galvanised?

5 December, 2022

Most people know the difference between stainless steel and galvanised steel, but some of those differences can be harder to spot with cables. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between stainless and galvanised cables and how to tell which type of cable you're dealing with.

Stainless steel

These cables are made from stainless steel, an alloy of iron containing at least 10.5% chromium. This alloy creates a protective layer on the surface that prevents rust and corrosion. Stainless steel wire rope provides excellent strength and durability and can be used in many applications where other metals would not stand up to the elements or wear quickly.

 Galvanised steel

Galvanised steel has been hot-dipped in a zinc coating to reduce rust and corrosion, albeit less effectively than stainless steel. Galvanised steel cables are often used for less demanding applications, such as building construction or outdoor projects like fences or playgrounds. In contrast, stainless steel wire rope is more expensive but lasts longer under harsh environmental conditions.


So how can you tell if a cable is stainless or galvanised?


While both types of steel have a similar appearance, it can be difficult to tell them apart just by looking. However, there are several approaches to determining the two:


Try to scratch the surface of the cable with a sharp object; stainless steel will have a smooth, shiny finish, whereas galvanised steel will be rougher to the touch.


Another way to determine the cable type is to use a magnet. If the cable is made from galvanised steel, it will be attracted to the magnet. Stainless steel is non-magnetic and will not be affected by magnets.


Most stainless cables will be silver, while galvanised cables will be dull grey.


Stainless steel is heavier than galvanised, so if the cable feels unusually light, it could indicate it is galvanised.

Visible signs of corrosion:

Another approach is to check for corrosion spots or rust on the cable, indicating that it is galvanised and not stainless. Be sure to look closely, as galvanised steel may still have a shiny appearance even when corroding.

Considering these factors, you should be able to tell whether a cable is stainless or galvanised with some degree of accuracy. It's important to remember that different types of cables have different properties, so it's essential to understand the differences in order to make an informed decision about which type of cable is best suited to your project.

No matter what type of industrial cable you need, Rope Services Direct can help – call us on 01384 78004, and we will be happy to help. Our experienced team is committed to providing top-quality cables, wire ropes, chains and more at competitive prices. Head over to our website to view our full range of products.