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Building a Better Home: The Top Metals & Plastics for Your Next Improvement Project

When it comes to home improvement projects, using the right materials is essential for achieving the desired level of durability and aesthetic appeal. So, what should you look for when choosing metals and plastics in your next home improvement project?


What Are the Best Metals for Home Improvement Projects?

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a popular choice for home improvement projects, valued for its durability and resistance to rust and corrosion. It's a common pick for kitchen appliances, sinks, and countertops, and it excels in outdoor applications like handrails, fencing, and decking due to its resilience against the elements.

  • 304 stainless steel is the most used alloy for home improvement projects with its signature corrosion resistance and aesthetic appeal at an affordable cost.
  • 316 stainless steel is ideal for outdoor applications like deck railing, garden structures, and outdoor furniture.
  • 430 stainless steel is used for its resistance to corrosion in applications like kitchen backsplashes, cabinet hardware, and outdoor grills and fire pits.
  • 17-4 PH stainless steel is used for its strength and durability such as door hardware, outdoor fencing, and structural supports.

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Aluminum

Aluminum is a lightweight and versatile metal that is commonly used in home improvement projects. It is easy to work with and can be formed into various shapes and sizes. Aluminum is ideal for outdoor applications such as gutters, roofs, and siding due to its resistance to rust and corrosion.

  • 6061 aluminum is the most popular alloy for home improvement projects as it is weldable, versatile, strong, and cost effective in comparison to other alloys.
  • 3003 aluminum is commonly used for decorative purposes, such as kitchen backsplashes, light fixtures, and outdoor planters.
  • 5052 aluminum is ideal for saltwater applications like gutters and downspouts, outdoor furniture, and window frames and screens.
  • 7075 aluminum is used for high-strength applications, such as custom sports equipment or custom shelving and storage.

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Copper

Copper is a unique and elegant metal that is often used for decorative purposes in home improvement projects. It is commonly used for accents such as countertops, backsplashes, and sinks. Copper is also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, making it a popular choice for plumbing and electrical projects.

  • C110 copper is the most used copper alloy for home improvement projects as it has excellent electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, and is easily fabricated and readily available.
  • C172 beryllium copper is used for high-strength applications such as door and furniture hardware. Keep in mind that C172 copper contains beryllium, which can be hazardous if not handled properly during machining or fabrication.
  • C706 copper nickel is used for plumbing and heating systems in coastal areas.

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Brass

Brass is a durable and stylish metal that is often used in home improvement projects for its decorative appeal. It is commonly used for fixtures such as doorknobs, handles, and faucets. Brass is also an excellent conductor of heat and is used in applications such as radiators.

  • C260 cartridge brass is the most used brass alloy for home improvement projects with its combination of aesthetic appeal, ease of fabrication, and affordability.
  • C360 free cutting brass is known for its machinability, and applications such as custom hardware, ornamental trim, lighting fixtures, and architectural accents.
  • C464 naval brass is ideal for saltwater applications, such as outdoor hardware, kitchen backsplashes, and bathroom fixtures.
  • C693 ECO brass is a lead-free alternative used for plumbing fixtures and hardware.

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Titanium

Titanium is a lightweight and durable metal that is commonly used in home improvement projects for its strength and resistance to corrosion. It is commonly used in applications such as roofing, fencing, and decking.

  • Grade 5 titanium is the most used titanium alloy for home improvement projects due to its high strength and corrosion resistance.
  • Grade 2 titanium is often used for plumbing and heating systems.
  • Grade 9 titanium is used for outdoor applications such as decking and railing.
  • Grade 12 titanium is used for outdoor applications such as roofing and siding

Zinc

Zinc is a versatile metal that is often used in home improvement projects for its resistance to corrosion and durability. It is commonly used in roofing and gutters due to its resistance to weather and is often used as a decorative material in architectural applications.

EN 988 is typically used in roof covering, façade coverings, grooves and pipes, wind borders, window shelves, and architectural ornaments.

Working with Dissimilar Metals for Home Improvement Projects

“When it comes to working with metal and home improvement projects you also need to consider how dissimilar metals can cause issues in your project. If you are taking on a project, some metals will cause metal corrosion or galvanic corrosion when you fasten them together. You should not mix Stainless steel and Aluminum or Iron and Copper. This is why they had to do the renovations to the Statute of Liberty in the 1980’s because of the copper skin touching the iron frame causing corrosion issues.

Metals like Carbon Steel and Copper or Carbon Steel and Aluminum are also common metals that will tear each other apart when metals get mixed on a project. The easiest way to double check this is grab a nobility chart that will show how they will reach when touching. When metals are on opposite sides of the scale issues will occur. The further they are apart the bigger the issues.”
- Eric Goranson, Host of Around the House Show

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What Are the Best Plastics for Home Improvement Projects?

  • Polycarbonate: This is a durable and versatile plastic that is often used for roofing and skylights. It is known for its high impact resistance, UV resistance, and transparency.
  • Acrylic: This is a clear and lightweight plastic that is often used for windows, shower doors, and skylights. It is known for its excellent optical clarity and scratch resistance.
  • PVC: This is a rigid plastic that is often used for pipes, gutters, and siding. It is known for its excellent durability, weather resistance, and low cost.
  • HDPE: This is a high-density polyethylene plastic that is often used for outdoor furniture, decking, and fencing. It is known for its excellent resistance to moisture, insects, and rot.
  • PETG: This is a clear and impact-resistant plastic that is often used for shower enclosures, aquariums, and display cases. It is known for its excellent clarity and scratch resistance.


About Online Metals

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Online Metals is the world’s leading eCommerce metal supplier, specializing in small quantity cut-to-size metals and plastics, delivered in a fast and reliable manner.

Since 1998, Online Metals has expanded our catalog to over 85,000 different cut sizes, grown our national footprint to seven pickup locations across the U.S., and continued to improve upon our best-in-class customer experience.

Check out our materials: Alloy Steel, Aluminum, Anodized Aluminum, Beryllium Copper, Brass, Bronze, Carbon Steel, Copper, Cast Iron, Nickel, Nickel Silver, Plastic, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Tool Steel, Unistrut®, Wrought Iron, & Zinc

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