Different Types of Elevator Bucket Materials

Different Types of Elevator Bucket Materials

Elevator Buckets come in many shapes and sizes for a wide variety of uses. While the design and size of a bucket varies based on its intended application, the material it is constructed from is one of the most important factors that determines its durability, strength, weight, corrosion resistance and cost. There are several common materials used to manufacture buckets, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

This article provides an overview and comparison of four popular bucket materials: HDPE (high-density polyethylene), nylon reinforced plastic, mild steel, and stainless steel. We will explore the properties of each material, typical applications where they excel, relative costs, and environmental impacts. With this information, you will be better equipped to select the optimal bucket material for your particular needs. Whether you need a lightweight elevator bucket for occasional use or a heavy-duty elevator bucket for industrial applications, understanding the materials is key to choosing the right bucket for the job.


High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a commonly used plastic for buckets and other containers. It has several properties that make it well-suited for this application:

Properties of HDPE

  • Strong and durable – HDPE has high tensile strength and is resistant to cracking and stress fractures. HDPE buckets can withstand rough handling.
  • Chemical resistance – HDPE offers good resistance to acids, alkalis, salts, oils, and solvents. It won’t degrade or leach chemicals into contents.
  • Low density – HDPE is lighter than metals and other plastics, making HDPE buckets easier to lift and carry when full.
  • Thermal resistance – HDPE retains strength and stiffness in sub-zero temperatures and can withstand heat up to 120°C. It won’t become brittle when cold or soften excessively when hot.

Advantages of HDPE Buckets

  • Lightweight – The low density of HDPE makes these buckets easier to transport and maneuver than steel or other plastic buckets. Easier for repeated lifting and carrying.
  • Durability – HDPE buckets resist cracking, denting, and corrosion. They maintain integrity with rough handling and last longer than other plastics.
  • Low permeability – HDPE provides an excellent moisture and vapor barrier. Liquids or contents will not leak out, and outside moisture won’t seep in.
  • Recyclable – HDPE is one of the most commonly and easily recycled plastics. Buckets can be recycled at the end of service life.

Disadvantages of HDPE Buckets

  • Not suited for high heat – HDPE buckets shouldn’t be used for applications that exceed 200°F temperatures or involve heating contents. They may warp or melt.
  • Porosity – While low, HDPE is slightly porous to gases like oxygen over time. Not suitable for long-term storage of volatile chemicals.
  • Prone to static – Static charge can build up on HDPE buckets, which could ignite flammable contents. Grounding may be needed.
  • Not transparent – HDPE buckets are opaque, not clear, so contents aren’t visible. Translucent HDPE is available but more expensive.


Nylon reinforced buckets are made by combining nylon fibers with plastic resin to create a durable and lightweight material. Nylon has several properties that make it well-suited for bucket construction:

Properties of nylon reinforced buckets:

  • High tensile strength – Nylon fibers add considerable strength to the bucket, preventing cracks and damage from impacts. The nylon reinforcement helps distribute stress evenly.
  • Chemical resistance – Nylon has good resistance to oils, greases, acids, alkalis, and many solvents. This allows nylon buckets to be used with a wide range of chemicals.
  • Abrasion resistance – The smooth surface of nylon resists scratching and abrasion damage from rough handling. Nylon buckets maintain their appearance even with heavy use.
  • Lightweight – Nylon reinforced plastic is much lighter than metal buckets of the same strength. This makes nylon buckets easier to carry and transport.

Advantages of nylon buckets:

  • Durability – The nylon reinforcement imparts excellent impact resistance and prevents cracks from forming. Nylon buckets can withstand rougher handling than unreinforced plastic.
  • Lower weight – Lighter than metal buckets, reducing user fatigue and shipping costs. Easier to move and carry up ladders or over distance.
  • Non-conductive – Nylon buckets won’t conduct electricity, making them safer for electrical applications.
  • Non-corroding – Nylon buckets maintain their appearance and structural integrity when exposed to water, humidity, salt spray, or chemicals.

Disadvantages of nylon buckets:

  • Higher cost – Nylon reinforced buckets are more expensive than unreinforced plastic buckets. However, they offer greater durability.
  • Not suitable for hot contents – Maximum recommended temperature is around 80°C. Not suitable for hot water or steam cleaning.
  • Prone to static buildup – Nylon can accumulate static charge from friction. Grounding may be needed for flammable contents.
  • Permeability – While resistant to many chemicals, nylon is permeable to some solvents which may gradually soften the bucket.

Mild Steel

Mild steel is a low carbon steel that contains up to 0.25% carbon. It is known for its good formability and weldability. Mild steel buckets have the following properties:

  • Ductile – can be formed into different shapes
  • Good tensile strength
  • Relatively inexpensive compared to other metals

Some of the advantages of mild steel buckets include:

  • Strong and durable – mild steel has high strength and hardness. Mild steel buckets can withstand rough handling.
  • Heat resistance – mild steel can withstand high temperatures, making it suitable for applications involving heat exposure.
  • Easy to weld and fabricate – mild steel is easy to weld using common welding methods. This allows easy repairs and modifications.

However, mild steel also has some disadvantages:

  • Prone to corrosion – mild steel rusts easily when exposed to moisture and air. The buckets require painting or other anti-corrosion coatings.
  • Heavier than other metals – mild steel has a high density, so mild steel buckets are heavier than plastic or aluminum.
  • Magnetic – mild steel is ferromagnetic, so it can attract magnets which may be an issue for some applications.

Overall, mild steel makes durable and strong buckets, but requires coatings to prevent corrosion. Mild steel works well where the weight of the bucket is not a big concern.

Stainless Steel Buckets

Stainless steel buckets are made from steel alloyed with chromium, nickel, molybdenum, titanium, copper, and other metals. This alloy gives stainless steel excellent corrosion resistance, strength, and durability.

Properties of Stainless Steel Buckets

  • Highly durable and long-lasting – Stainless steel has outstanding tensile strength and can withstand heavy loads and impacts without deforming. Stainless steel buckets can last for decades with proper care.
  • Excellent corrosion resistance – The chromium in stainless steel forms a passive oxide film that protects against rust and corrosion. Stainless steel buckets can be used with acidic or caustic materials.
  • Non-porous surface – Stainless steel has a smooth, non-porous surface that prevents absorption of liquids and odors. This makes stainless buckets very hygienic and easy to clean.
  • High temperature resistance – Stainless steel maintains its strength and corrosion resistance at high temperatures. Stainless buckets can be used for hot liquids or to store items that require heat treatment.
  • Aesthetically pleasing – Stainless steel has a bright, modern, and sleek look. Stainless buckets look attractive in commercial and home settings.

Advantages of Stainless Steel Buckets

  • Extremely durable for heavy-duty use
  • Withstands damage and abrasion
  • Won’t rust or corrode
  • Easy to sterilize and keep very clean
  • Withstands high temperatures
  • Attractive appearance
  • Long lifespan with minimal maintenance

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Buckets

  • Relatively expensive upfront cost
  • Heavier than plastic buckets of the same capacity
  • Can show smudges, fingerprints, and scratches
  • Not suitable for use with strong acids or bases
  • Not recommended for low temperature or cryogenic use
  • Challenging to weld or modify after fabrication


The four bucket materials – HDPE, nylon, mild steel, and stainless steel – each have their own unique properties, advantages, and disadvantages for use in bucket construction.

HDPE is a lightweight plastic that is corrosion and chemical resistant but can become brittle over time when exposed to sunlight. It is an affordable option but lacks the strength of metal buckets.

Nylon is another plastic that is extremely durable and impact resistant. However, it is more expensive than HDPE and can be degraded by certain solvents. Nylon has high tensile strength but is not as rigid as steel.

Mild steel buckets are very strong and rigid but are prone to rusting and corrosion, especially when exposed to moisture for long periods. Mild steel is affordable but requires coatings to prevent corrosion. It is heavier than plastic options.

Stainless steel provides the best corrosion resistance and durability, but it is the most expensive option. Stainless steel maintains its strength and appearance over time but the material is heavier than plastic. It also requires welding processes that can weaken the metal.

Overall, plastics like HDPE and nylon provide affordable, lightweight options that resist chemicals, but they lack the sheer strength of steel. Mild steel is prone to rust but provides ruggedness at a low cost. Stainless steel is the strongest and most durable choice albeit the most expensive. The optimal material depends on the specific demands of the application and budget.


The applications for each material vary based on their properties and characteristics.

HDPE reinforced plastic is often used for large containers and chemical tanks due to its corrosion resistance. It’s also used for pallets and crates since it’s durable yet lightweight. HDPE is not suitable for high temperature applications.

NYLON reinforced plastic has high strength and stiffness, making it well-suited for parts that need durability like gears, bearings, and bushings. It also has good abrasion and chemical resistance. However, nylon tends to absorb moisture which can degrade mechanical properties.

Mild steel is versatile and used for structures, machinery, tools, pipes, and more. It’s strong, readily available, and economical. But mild steel is prone to corrosion and rusting, so it may require coatings or maintenance. It’s also not suitable for food contact.

Stainless steel has excellent corrosion resistance so it’s widely used for food processing equipment, medical devices, marine applications, and architecture. It maintains strength and durability in high temperatures and pressures. Stainless steel is more expensive than mild steel. Certain grades are prone to cracking if repeatedly heated and cooled.

The choice depends on mechanical requirements, corrosion resistance, cost factors, operating temperatures, and more. Consulting with material experts can help narrow options. Prototyping and testing is key to ensuring the material selected meets performance needs for the particular application.


When considering bucket materials, cost is an important factor. Here’s a comparison of typical costs for the main bucket materials:

  • HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) – HDPE is one of the most affordable bucket materials. An HDPE bucket can cost $5-15 depending on size. HDPE is relatively inexpensive to manufacture.
  • Nylon – Nylon buckets are more expensive than HDPE. Expect to pay $15-25 for a nylon bucket. The nylon material itself is more costly than HDPE. Manufacturing costs are also higher.
  • Mild Steel – Mild steel buckets range from $10-30. They are more expensive than HDPE due to the higher cost of steel. But manufacturing costs are low, so mild steel can be competitive with HDPE on price.
  • Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is the most expensive material for buckets. Costs range from $30-100. The stainless steel itself is far more expensive than mild steel or plastics. Manufacturing costs are also higher than other materials.

So in summary, HDPE is the most affordable option, followed by mild steel and nylon. Stainless steel buckets carry by far the highest price tag. When choosing a material, weigh the higher cost of stainless steel versus its benefits like durability and corrosion resistance. HDPE or mild steel offer the best value for budget-conscious buyers.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of these materials varies significantly.

  • HDPE is made from petroleum and natural gas, so its production requires fossil fuels. However, it is recyclable and has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other plastics. HDPE does not biodegrade, so it persists in landfills. Overall, HDPE has a moderate environmental impact.
  • Nylon is also made from petroleum. Its production emits nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Like HDPE, nylon does not biodegrade. It has a higher carbon footprint than HDPE and persists in the environment. Nylon’s environmental impact is more negative than HDPE.
  • Mild steel production requires iron ore mining and smelting which contributes to deforestation, habitat loss, air and water pollution. However, mild steel is readily recyclable, reducing the need for new raw materials. Overall, mild steel has a moderate environmental impact.
  • Stainless steel shares many of the same impacts as mild steel production. However, it contains chromium and nickel which are toxic if released into the environment. Stainless steel is not as readily recyclable as mild steel. Its environmental impact is generally more negative than mild steel.

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In summary, each bucket material has its advantages and disadvantages. HDPE is lightweight and affordable but can be damaged by UV light and chemicals. Nylon is very durable but more expensive. Mild steel is strong but can rust. Stainless steel is more corrosion resistant but even more costly.

When choosing a bucket material, consider the application and contents. HDPE and nylon work well for food-related uses where corrosion resistance is needed. Mild steel is sufficient for non-food industrial applications. Stainless steel is best for highly corrosive materials and when longevity is critical.

In most cases, HDPE or nylon provide the best combination of performance and value. Mild steel can also be a good option if rust is not a major concern. Stainless steel buckets are recommended only for specialized applications where their superior durability justifies the higher price tag. Carefully evaluate the intended use when selecting a bucket material.

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