When it comes to finding the right surface material for your commercial kitchen installation, you can see why many businesses opt for stainless steel – it’s sterilisable, making it great for food handling areas, it’s easy to clean and has that iconic, mirror-like look associated with commercial kitchens. But is it really the best option?

What are the main factors you need to think about?

There’s a lot to consider, including the price, quality and corrosion resistance. You also need to know you’re choosing the right material for each piece of equipment. We’ve pulled together the main factors you need to think about, if you’re looking to choose stainless steel catering equipment for your kitchen.

The grade of steel

There are varying grades of steel which relate to its composition and characteristics. It’s graded by numbers and following the NSF International Standard for Food Equipment Material, stainless steel must fall within the 200, 300 or 400 series, if used for food equipment.

Although there are several grade options, we’ve listed the two main grades used within the manufacture of stainless steel catering equipment:

Factors to consider when choosing the grade of steel:

  • What are your equipment’s specifications? Knowing this will save you time and money in the long run
  • Research your manufacturers as cheaper welding can result in weak points

The thickness of steel

The thickness of steel is measured in mm and given a gauge number. In general, the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel and the more durable it’ll be. However, there are some instances where stainless steel can be folded — although this’ll make it thinner, it’ll actually make it stronger. The different thicknesses available for stainless steel catering equipment include:

18 gauge – this is your economy level stainless steel. It’s lower in cost, 1.24mm thick and usually used for wall shelves, under shelves, tables etc.

16 gauge – the most popular choice due to its heavy thickness at 1.65mm. Used mostly for sink units and induction worktops.

14 gauge – is very thick at 2.11mm. It’s smooth, durable and hard to damage, making it preferable for butchers’ kitchens.

Although the thickness of the steel is important, it’s most effective when paired with the right grade and finish. Make sure you consider each piece of equipment in your kitchen – think about its usage, purpose, and desired lifespan to find the right combination.

The finish

Although your priority is a fully functioning and high-standard kitchen setup, if your kitchen is customer facing, you also want it to be atheistically pleasing too. There are three types of finish to choose from for your stainless steel catering equipment:

Highly polished – creates that iconic, smooth, sleek look

Stain finish – has a dull, matt look, commonly used on hidden or lower-priority equipment

Brush finish – has a close grain finish that doesn’t show fingerprints and is easier to clean

Why is stainless steel used in commercial kitchens?

There are many benefits that justify why stainless steel catering equipment is such a popular choice within commercial kitchens. We’ve listed a few for you:

  • It’s durable and has a long lifespan
  • It looks good and provides a professional finish
  • It’s easy to clean and maintain
  • It’s non-reactive to food
  • It’s excellent value for money

How to maintain stainless steel

Yes, stainless steel is easy to maintain but you need to put measures into place to keep your equipment functioning effectively. This also ensures you’re adhering to food hygiene rules as well as safeguarding your colleagues and customers. Here are our top tips on how to maintain your stainless steel kitchen equipment:

  • Wipe down your equipment before, during and after shifts
  • Enforce weekly and monthly cleaning schedules
  • Give more attention to appliances that come into direct contact with food
  • Remember the edges and insides
  • Colour code your cleaning equipment
  • When using cleaning products, give them a few minutes to soak in
  • Check you’re using the right cleaning products for your equipment

Why swap to stainless steel?

Not only can stainless steel be used across many kitchen pieces, it’s durable, corrosion resistant, and easy to maintain. Ultimately saving you time and money and extending the life of your kitchen. So, you can see why it’s essential in commercial kitchen settings.

If you’d like to find out more, take a look at what equipment Midlands Catering can provide for you or get-in-touch.