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Aluminum vs Stainless Steel: Which is Better for Your Metal Sign?

Metal signs speak volumes. Their sturdiness, malleability, and sleek finish add a level of finesse to business signs. Making the best decisions about the design of your business’ sign shouldn’t be your sole consideration. The type of metal used also plays a major role in how long it will last in external weather conditions. Aluminum and steel are two of the best metals to use in metal signs. The table below compares both types of metals so that you can make an informed decision about the best metal to use for your sign.




Strength to weight ratio

(Force per unit area divided by density)

Aluminum has a tensile strength of 276 MPa and a density of 2.81gcm-3. Aluminum is, therefore, lighter than steel.

Stainless steel has a tensile strength of 505 MPa and a density of 8 gcm-3. Steel is, therefore, stronger than aluminum.


Aluminum has a passivation layer that helps it resist oxidation and corrosion.

Stainless steel contains chromium which has corrosion resistance properties.


Aluminum is more expensive than steel.

Steel is less expensive and completely recyclable.


Aluminum is more malleable and elastic.

Steel is less malleable and elastic.

Electrical Conductivity

Aluminum conducts electricity well.

Steel is one of the poorest conductors of electricity amongst all the metals.


Aluminum is more difficult to weld than steel.

Steel is less difficult to weld than aluminum.


What does this mean for you?

Aluminum is a better metal to use for outdoor signs because it has better weather resistance than steel. Steel, however, has superior strength. So, if you’re comfortable with rust developing on your sign overtime in favor of something stronger, steel is your best option. Both metals can be used for indoor signs.

Essentially, the choice you make depends on what you’re willing to live with. Both metals will give you the refined look you desire. Their strength and weather resistance are the ultimate decision factors.


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