202 Stainless Steel vs. 304 Stainless Steel

What's the Difference?

202 Stainless Steel and 304 Stainless Steel are both popular choices for various applications due to their excellent corrosion resistance and durability. However, there are some key differences between the two. 202 Stainless Steel is a lower-cost alternative to 304 Stainless Steel and is often used in applications where cost is a significant factor. It has a higher manganese content, which provides better resistance to pitting corrosion but slightly lower overall corrosion resistance compared to 304 Stainless Steel. On the other hand, 304 Stainless Steel is a versatile and widely used grade that offers excellent corrosion resistance, high strength, and good formability. It contains a higher percentage of chromium and nickel, making it more resistant to corrosion and oxidation. Overall, while 202 Stainless Steel is a cost-effective option, 304 Stainless Steel is preferred for applications requiring superior corrosion resistance and longevity.


Attribute202 Stainless Steel304 Stainless Steel
CompositionChromium 17-19%, Nickel 4-6%, Manganese 7.5-10%, Silicon 1%, Nitrogen 0.25%Chromium 18-20%, Nickel 8-10.5%, Manganese 2%, Silicon 1%, Carbon 0.08%
Corrosion ResistanceFairExcellent
Heat ResistanceUp to 800°C (1472°F)Up to 925°C (1697°F)
ApplicationsUtensils, kitchen equipment, automotive trimFood processing equipment, chemical containers, architectural structures

Further Detail


Stainless steel is a versatile and widely used material in various industries due to its excellent corrosion resistance, durability, and aesthetic appeal. Two commonly used grades of stainless steel are 202 and 304. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct attributes that make them suitable for different applications. In this article, we will compare the attributes of 202 stainless steel and 304 stainless steel to help you understand their differences and make informed decisions when choosing the right grade for your specific needs.

Chemical Composition

Chemical composition plays a crucial role in determining the properties of stainless steel. Both 202 and 304 stainless steel are austenitic grades, meaning they are non-magnetic and have a face-centered cubic crystal structure. However, their chemical compositions differ slightly.

  • 202 Stainless Steel: It contains 17-19% chromium, 4-6% nickel, and 7.5-10% manganese. The addition of manganese helps improve the strength and formability of the steel.
  • 304 Stainless Steel: It contains 18-20% chromium and 8-10.5% nickel. The higher nickel content in 304 stainless steel provides enhanced corrosion resistance and makes it suitable for applications in harsh environments.

Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion resistance is one of the most important attributes of stainless steel. Both 202 and 304 stainless steel offer good resistance to corrosion, but their performance varies.

202 stainless steel is more susceptible to corrosion compared to 304 stainless steel. It is less resistant to acids, alkalis, and chloride-containing environments. Therefore, it is not recommended for applications where it will be exposed to corrosive substances or in marine environments.

On the other hand, 304 stainless steel exhibits excellent corrosion resistance, making it suitable for a wide range of applications, including food processing, chemical processing, and marine environments. Its higher nickel content provides superior resistance to corrosion caused by acids, alkalis, and chloride ions.

Strength and Durability

Strength and durability are important considerations when choosing stainless steel for structural or load-bearing applications.

202 stainless steel has a lower tensile strength and yield strength compared to 304 stainless steel. It is generally less durable and more prone to deformation under stress. However, it offers good toughness and can withstand moderate impacts.

304 stainless steel, on the other hand, has higher tensile and yield strengths, making it stronger and more durable than 202 stainless steel. It is less likely to deform or break under heavy loads, making it suitable for applications that require high strength and structural integrity.

Formability and Weldability

Formability and weldability are important attributes to consider when working with stainless steel, as they determine the ease of fabrication and the ability to join different components.

202 stainless steel offers good formability, allowing it to be easily shaped and formed into various products. It can be readily welded using conventional methods, making it suitable for applications that require complex shapes or custom designs.

304 stainless steel also offers excellent formability, although it may be slightly less formable than 202 stainless steel. However, it provides superior weldability, thanks to its lower carbon content. It can be welded using various techniques, including TIG welding, MIG welding, and resistance welding, without significant risk of sensitization or intergranular corrosion.


Price is often a significant factor when choosing between different stainless steel grades.

202 stainless steel is generally more affordable than 304 stainless steel. Its lower nickel content and simpler composition contribute to its lower cost. It is often used as a cost-effective alternative to 304 stainless steel in applications where corrosion resistance is not the primary concern.

304 stainless steel, being a higher-grade alloy, is more expensive than 202 stainless steel. However, its superior corrosion resistance and mechanical properties justify the higher price, especially in applications where durability and longevity are critical.


In conclusion, both 202 and 304 stainless steel have their own unique attributes that make them suitable for different applications. While 202 stainless steel may be more affordable and offer good formability, it falls short in terms of corrosion resistance and strength compared to 304 stainless steel. On the other hand, 304 stainless steel provides excellent corrosion resistance, superior strength, and durability, making it a preferred choice for demanding applications.

When selecting between these two grades, it is essential to consider the specific requirements of your application, such as the environment, load-bearing capacity, and budget. Consulting with stainless steel experts or engineers can help you make an informed decision and ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your stainless steel components or structures.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.