The 5 Best Expanded Metals [Ranked]

Expanded metal is a material that is extremely useful in construction. If you're unfamiliar, many of us come across it in our day-to-day lives without even realizing it.

Expanded metal is commonly used as grates, fences, or even on swinging porch doors. This sheet metal usually uses shapes such as diamonds, squares, or – less commonly – circles in its mesh design (Source).

This type of metal is made from sheet metal which can be made of stainless steel, hot rolled steel, cold rolled steel, aluminum, or a variety of other options as well (Source) to create stretched (or expanded) building metal.

The pattern of the mesh design is dependent on what is needed from the buyer and can either be staggered and or in straight lines (Source). The amount of open area in the metal depends on how much air, water, light, etc. is needed to pass through it.

Buyer Feedback

When it comes to the expanded metal mesh that we are looking at today, customers had some interesting notes to make. First of all, many had unique ideas on what to use expanded form worksheets for, such as in a smoker.

They also warn that while expanded metal is strong, don’t overestimate it. Strong doesn’t mean invincible and you don’t want to push it past its limits.

Expanded Metals Compared

How They Compare


Different Metals

So, what about the products that we are discussing? What makes them different from one another?

First of all, the material that they are made of is different. For the Stanley National Hardware and Online Metal Supply options, the expanded metal mesh is constructed from steel, making it more durable.

However, the final product – the 3003 Flat Expanded Sheet – is made of aluminum. While it may have a little less strength, aluminum is more malleable and easier to manipulate than steel is.

Different Patterns

The other difference in these expanded metal sheets is the pattern of the mesh. The Stanley National Hardware 4075BC, Stanley National Hardware 4075BC, 3003 Aluminum, and the 102” by 24” by 48” Online Metal Supply expanded metal mesh have a staggered, diamond shaped pattern.

On the other hand, the Online Metal Supply 304 Stainless Steel Perforated Sheet has a circular mesh pattern. Similar to the other expanded sheet metals we discussed, this expanded form worksheet has a staggered mesh design.

Benefits of Expanded Metal


  1. Since expanded metal takes up a greater surface area while being less sheet metal, it is a less expensive option.
  2. Lightweight structure. 
  3. If you need extra strength, this metal can be reinforced with glass, concrete, or more.
  4. Expanded metal is easy to make and no resources are wasted so it is a rather cheap option compared to other metals and construction materials.
  5. Compared to many metal products, expanded metal sheets are a good choice thanks to how strong it is and how much weight it can bear.
  6. If you use this on a ramp or walkway, the shape of these sheets allows for an anti-slip surface.

Best Expanded Metals For 2017

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

The National Hardware 24’’ x 24’’ Expanded Steel is a good option if you want to make a charcoal basket for your smoker, machinery guards, screen door protectors, etc. Users like the usefulness of the expanded metal, but some do complain that it is tough to cut it.

This product is made from 13 gauge hot-rolled, unfinished plain steel. It features 3/4 in the grid pattern. This item seems like a good choice if you want to weld, form and fabricate easily because the steel is not treated with oil.

In general, users are happy with the National Hardware Expanded Steel. They state that it makes a fine liner for a smoker firebox, adding that it holds up to the heat without a problem. One satisfied purchaser used it for burn barrel and he shares that it does a great job of keeping bits of burning debris from flying out. Users appreciate the excellent quality of this expanded metal, as well as that it is very heavy duty.

Some buyers complain that the gauge thickness requires a cutting disc to cut it, otherwise, it is very tough to cut it with shears or aviator snips.

Pros

  • Makes a fine liner for a smoker firebox
  • Holds up to the heat
  • Excellent quality
  • Very heavy duty

Cons

  • Some buyers complain that it is very tough to cut it

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

The Online Metal Supply Flattened Metal Sheet is a solid option for anyone who needs cut steel for their construction projects. Users like the value/price ratio of this expanded metal and so far have only some minor complaints.

This product is a flattened expanded metal sheet made of plain steel that measures .120″ x 24″ x 48″. This item could be a solid choice if you need a sturdy material that is easy to maneuver with.

In general, users have a favorable opinion of the Online Metal Supply Expanded Metal Sheet.They agree that it is sturdy and arrives exactly as described. Users conclude that the quality is good for the price.

So far, buyers have only some minor complaints. One user says that it would be nice if the product description clearly told what orientation the “diamonds” are.

Pros

  • Good quality for the price
  • Sturdy

Cons

  • Minor complaint – no information on the orientation of the "diamonds"

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

The Online Metal Supply Perforated Sheet is a solid option if you need a malleable metal material. Users like the quality of this metal sheet and so far have no major complaints.

This product is an unpolished stainless steel perforated sheet with .035 inch (20 ga.) thickness. It measures 8‘’x 12’’ with round1/8’’ holes and 3/16’’ stagger. The staggered perforated hole patterns are offset on 60-degree angles. This alloy sheet is non-magnetic, corrosion, stain and weather resistant. This expanded metal might be a solid choice if you need metal sheets that provide maximum strength and uniform wear.

In general, users have a favorable opinion of the Online Metal Supply Stainless Steel Metal Sheet and they agree that it is of great quality and easy to bend.

So far there are no major complaints from the buyers. One online reviewer says that you need a heavy duty metal shear to cut the item.

Pros

  • Great quality
  • Easy to bend

Cons

  • Minor complaint – heavy duty metal shear needed to cut it

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

Whether you are a home, farm, builder or industrial customer looking for expanded metal,you might want to consider this one offered by National Hardware. So far there is only one positive feedback for this product.

This product is made from 13 gauge hot-rolled, unfinished plain, flattened steel, with 3/4 in the grid pattern. It comes from a manufacturer committed to maintaining the highest level of product quality, innovation and manufacturing technology. Plain steel contract-it material allows for welding, forming and fabricating easily, thus this item could be a good choice for all your construction projects.

Pros

  • Works great

Cons

  • None so far

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

If you are looking for a top-rated expanded metal, you might want to consider the 3003 Aluminum Flat Expanded Sheet. Users like the quality of this expanded metal, but some complain of its sharp edges.

This product is made of aluminum alloy which provides good strength and corrosion resistance, and it is lighter weight than steel, copper, and brass. Its unpolished surface has no finish, and the flat sheet is rolled for a smooth surface. Raised, or standard, these expanded sheets offer a skid-resistant surface and a high strength-to-weight ratio. If you want a high-quality expanded metal, this might be a good option.

In general, users have a highly positive opinion of the Online Metal Supply Stainless Steel Metal Sheet and they agree that it is thick, sturdy, easy to cut and very light. They appreciate its excellent quality, as well as that it can take some serious heat.

However, some buyers complain about rough edges and therefore recommend filing them a bit if the item is used on a finished piece. One purchaser shares that the mesh arrived with some “wave” to it. A very dissatisfied buyer states that the product is not as thick as advertised (0.097″ – 0,100″ thick instead of the advertised 0.125″). Some online reviewers say that they would prefer a somewhat tighter weave.

Pros

  • Thick and sturdy
  • Easy to cut
  • Very light
  • Great quality
  • Can take the heat

Cons

  • Some buyers complain about the rough edges
  • One purchaser says the mesh arrived with some "wave" to it
  • One buyer states the product is not as thick as advertised

What Are Buyers Saying?


It might interest you to know that expanded metal originated in the 1880s in Britain-and Hartlepool, to be exact. Although industrial metal making practices have evolved significantly since then, the process is pretty much the same as it was in the 19 century (Source).

Basically, as we have covered above, expanded metal is a sheet or plate that is being stretched out into a mesh with diamond-shaped spaces and other patterns. The pattern can be staggered to create customized effects to facilitate light, water, and air passage (Source).

Examining so many reviewer responses, we've seen a pattern emerge- buyers primarily opt for this style of metal because it is cost-effective, efficient, functions as an excellent conductor, provides solid protective reinforcement, it's really strong, doesn't weigh a lot, enables circulation and has good acoustic properties. In industrial settings, metal makers use an expanding machine to transform solid metal coils and sheets into the expanded metal mesh.

The expanding machine employs a knife that describes the specific pattern. The metal is fed through this machine so that it is stretched and cut at the same time by a stretching and slitting process.

Types Of Expanded Metal

The more common patterns include the Long Way Diamond and the Short Way Diamond- these refer to the different width and length of the mesh holes.

  • Some other types include a flattened expanded metal that is generated by a cold rolling process that elongates the links an extra 5%.
  • The hexagonal expanded metal doesn't have diamond patterns but instead has hexagon all ones that provides an extra level of strength.
  • Architectural expanded metal utilizes a diamond pattern with some added aesthetic features to make it appropriate for decorative and ornamental purposes.
  • Finally, there is micro expanded metal which, as you can probably guess, has very small openings that can be square, hexagonal, flattened or standard and is often used in filters.
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