The purpose of grommets is to add strength. By definition, they must be able to withstand high pressures and stresses! When you tie down a tarp, lace up a boot, or raise a flag, you rely on grommets to prevent the material from wearing and tearing.
The kind of forces the grommets experience will differ depending on the application, but generally, having grommets at all is better than having none!
You’ll never need rubber grommets for garments unless you’re making a specialized costume or some other niche custom product. Those grommets are reserved for electrical and construction uses. As for plastic, they don’t have nearly the strength or durability of metal grommets in some key areas.
While metal grommets may deform under severe impacts, they’re likely to stay intact. Plastic grommets experiencing the same forces can shatter or break.
As for a grommet’s ability to stay together when subjected to prying or tearing, again, having any grommet at all is better than none. But plastic grommets will snap long before metal grommets will.
If a grommet is forced in different directions or subjected to extreme pressures from the laces or rope tied through it, it should be able to remain whole. As you may imagine, metal grommets are also superior to plastic grommets in this regard.
Plastic grommets do have positive qualities, including:
But if you want ultimate durability and longevity, you’ll want metal grommets.
There are several types of metal used for grommets, but the most common are brass and stainless steel. They each have advantages and disadvantages:
The gold color may be better suited for particular aesthetics
More malleable than stainless steel, which makes them easier to install
Less expensive than stainless steel
More malleable also means more likely to deform
Less overall strength than stainless steel
Much stronger than brass
Incredibly corrosion and rust-resistant
Excellent material for self-piercing grommets
More expensive than brass
Stainless steel’s hardness means it puts more wear on tools
Ultimately, either brass or stainless steel makes for excellent, long-lasting, and durable grommets.
You may also find aluminum grommets, but they are much rarer. The reason someone may want aluminum is that they’re lighter than brass or stainless steel and even more corrosion and rust-resistant. However, they aren’t as strong and aren’t intended for extreme applications.
If adding any grommet at all increases strength, why does the grommet quality matter? The reason is that grommets must withstand continuous friction, compression, and other stresses while also protecting the fabric around them.
There are several important qualities grommets must have beyond what material they’re made from:
Quality grommets will not have sharp edges that compromise the integrity of the item’s materials.
Deviations in size and appearance will be noticeable and detract from the aesthetics of the garment or item.
The two pieces of the grommet — the washer and the barrel — should fit together properly during installation. If the pieces deform during the setting process and still don’t grip together, there’s a major issue!
Metal grommets may come with a plating, which can alter the color and add abrasion-resistant qualities. Low-quality plated grommets may begin to flake quicker than they should, which, in addition to being unattractive, may cause them to rust or corrode.
Avoid grommets made from low-quality metal that deforms or breaks before its time. Just because the package states they’re made from stainless steel or brass, that doesn’t mean they are.
To ensure you get high-quality grommets and tools, shop at GoldStar Tool. We source all our supplies from reputable vendors with a reputation for quality. And if you need advice on what tools or materials are right for your projects, don’t hesitate to contact us at GoldStar Tool.