Location: Home > NEWS > Industry knowledge > Do you know the difference between 304 and 304L stainless steel?

Do you know the difference between 304 and 304L stainless steel?

May 31 2023

Stainless steel is a versatile and popular material in many industries, thanks to its durability, corrosion resistance, and aesthetic appeal. But did you know that there are different types of stainless steel? In this blog post, we're going to focus on two commonly used grades: 304 and 304L. While they may sound similar at first glance, they have some important differences that can affect their performance in certain applications. So if you're curious about the nuances of stainless steel composition and want to learn more about Aofeng's offerings, keep reading!

The Difference Between 304 and 304L Stainless Steel

304 and 304L stainless steel are both popular choices for a wide range of applications. However, they do have some key differences that set them apart.

The main difference between 304 and 304L stainless steel is their carbon content. While both alloys contain the same amount of chromium and nickel, 304L has a lower carbon content which makes it more suitable for welding applications.

Because of its lower carbon content, 304L is less prone to sensitization – a process where high temperatures cause carbides to form at the grain boundaries, leading to corrosion. This makes it an excellent choice for use in environments where corrosive elements are present.

On the other hand, while 304 has a higher carbon content than 304L, it is generally considered stronger and more durable than its counterpart. It also tends to be easier to machine due to its slightly higher hardness rating.

Ultimately, deciding which alloy is right for your application will depend on your specific needs and requirements. Consulting with a professional can help you make the best decision based on your unique situation.

Pros of 304 and 304L Stainless Steel

When it comes to stainless steel, there are many grades to choose from. Two popular choices are 304 and its low-carbon variant, 304L. Both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Starting with the pros, both types offer excellent corrosion resistance in a wide range of environments. They also have good weldability and formability properties, making them versatile for various applications.

Ultimately, whether you choose 304 or 304L will depend on your specific application needs and budget constraints.

Applications for 304 and 304L Stainless Steel

304 and 304L stainless steel are incredibly versatile materials that can be used in a variety of applications. The high corrosion resistance, durability and strength make them popular choices for many industries.

One common use for 304 and 304L is in the food processing industry. These grades of stainless steel are non-reactive with food, making them ideal for equipment such as storage tanks, piping systems and cooking surfaces.

Another application is in the chemical processing industry where they are often used to handle corrosive chemicals due to their excellent resistance against corrosion. They are also commonly found in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities where purity is critical.

In addition to industrial uses, these types of stainless steel can also be found in everyday products such as kitchen sinks, appliances and cutlery. Their aesthetic appeal combined with their durability makes them an attractive option for both residential and commercial settings.

Lastly, 304 and 304L stainless steel have been utilized extensively within the construction industry; particularly when it comes to roofing material or cladding because they offer superior rust protection compared to other metals like aluminum or copper.

The versatility of 304 and 304L stainless steel make them highly sought after by many different industries looking for strong materials that provide reliable performance over time.


To sum it up, the main difference between 304 and 304L stainless steel is their carbon content. While both are excellent choices for a wide range of applications due to their corrosion resistance, durability, and ease of fabrication, 304L is preferred in cases where welding is involved because it has lower carbon content which reduces the risk of carbide precipitation.

When choosing between these two types of stainless steel for your application needs, consider factors such as cost-effectiveness, strength requirements, and weldability. At Aofeng Stainless Steel Products Co., Ltd., we offer high-quality 304 and 304L stainless steel products that meet industry standards and can be customized to fit specific project requirements. Contact us today to learn more about our product offerings!